Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Boost Health With Booster Foods

Wakame Seaweed Salad
by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

Booster foods are foods containing a high amount of phytonutrients which are needed to protect us from environmental toxins (car fumes, cigarette smoke, water, household cleaners), heavy metal contamination (mercury, lead, aluminum, iron, cadmium) and free radicals which damage our body’s cells. 

Below are some of the lesser known booster foods. Our defenses can be optimized by including the following booster foods in our diet:


Seaweed Vegetables - Algae, kombu/kelp, dulse, arame, and wakame contain magnesium, B vitamins, protein, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and trace minerals including iron, manganese, and iodine. Seaweed vegetables are a chelator (binder) and help the body remove heavy toxic metals. Iodine supports the thyroid. Add these items while cooking whole grains and soups.

Spices - Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, curry, mustard powder, nutmeg. Spices have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties. Replace salt with spices to reduce sodium in diet and add a new dimension of flavor to foods.   

Nutritional Yeast - A good source of B-complex vitamins, selenium, folic acid, zinc, and chromium. Nutritional yeast is important for red cell production, maintaining the meylin sheath that protects nerve cells, regulating blood sugar, reducing cardiovascular disease, and supporting the immune system (Mateljan, 2007). Add to soups, casseroles, dips, popcorn, vegetables, and rice to add the cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast.

Nuts and Seeds - Nuts and seeds are a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin A, potassium, zinc, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber. They include walnuts, almonds, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Omega-3’s support the prostate, help with brain function, and reduce inflammation. Vitamin E helps keep our arteries healthy. Lignans can reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Calcium and magnesium improve bone health. Add them to salads, vegetables, hot breakfast cereal, or have a snack.

The recommended serving size for booster foods is 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. Eating 2-4 servings a day of these power-packed foods to help optimize your health (Bauman, 2013).

Jody Perrecone is a corporate manager for the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP). CHIP is an international wellness program focusing on lifestyle interventions to create a healthier workforce and reduce overall healthcare costs. Jody works with hospitals, corporations, and communities to offer CHIP programs throughout the U.S.

References:
1 Mateljan, G. (2007) The World’s Healthiest Foods. Canada: George Mateljan Foundation
2 Bauman, E.  (2013) Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman Colllege.


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