Did you know watercress may be an important weapon in the fight against breast cancer? According to research published earlier this year in The British Journal of Nutrition, a 3-ounce serving of the leafy green can help prevent breast cancer as well as decrease the risk of cancer in general. Extolled by anti-aging specialist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, watercress is a better source of vitamins C, B1, B6, K, and E, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and potassium than apples, broccoli and tomatoes.
In addition to filling up on fresh and frozen blueberries, enjoy the antioxidant power of blackberries while they are in season. A juicy welcome treat in the summer, blackberries are loaded with phenolic acids, antioxidant compounds believed to be a potent dietary defense against cancer and heart disease as well as premature aging. In addition to being low in calories, blackberries are also high in fiber, a key in digestive health.
Beets (and beet greens)
What's not to love about a two-in-one source of powerful nutrition? Beautiful, colorful beets are rich in antioxidants, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, which are associated with eye health, and the vegetables also have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to fight heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases. Beet greens, like other leafy greens, are one of the most concentrated sources of nutrients of all vegetables.
If you've had your fill of oranges, peel a ruby red grapefruit and reap the juicy benefits of this sweet, refreshing fruit. Grapefruit and other citrus fruits, which are bursting with phytonutrients, can boost your heart health by lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation of your arteries. In addition, these antioxidant-rich gems can boost your immune system, reduce your risk of cancer and improve your skin health.
Considered a power food by David Zinczenko, author of the Abs Diet books, almonds are a delicious source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, fiber and other vitamins and minerals. Almonds can help you lose weight, build muscle, beat premature aging and lower your risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. When you're in the mood for something creamy, reach for natural almond butter, which delivers the same nutritional benefits without the crunch.
Teeming with beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, yogurt not only boosts digestive and immune system health, it also delivers protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin B12 and other key vitamins and minerals. To boot, three servings of dairy have been shown to aid in weight loss and leaner abs. Opt for low-sugar, low-fat plain varieties (go for Greek yogurt for even more protein), and add your own fresh fruit or swirl of honey to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Wild salmon is a deliciously rich source of quality protein for strong muscles and a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids to ward off heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, arthritis pain, depression along with a host of other diseases caused by inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week to reap the benefits of this delicious, heart-healthy source of lean protein.
Technically a seed, quinoa is a high-protein whole grain that is a great source of manganese, magnesium, iron, tryptophan, copper, phosphorus and fiber. According to The World's Healthiest Foods website, quinoa can supply the nutrients needed to help prevent migraines, fight free radicals, boost heart health and even combat cancer. Whole grains in general are power foods that every woman should be eating in place of refined white flour products.
If the long cooking time of dry beans has you avoiding these fiber-rich, heart-healthy finds, consider lentils, which prep in about 20 minutes. A super source of protein, fiber, folate (the vitamin that fights birth defects), molybdenum, manganese and iron, lentils can improve cardiovascular function, ward off diabetes and help stabilize blood sugar in people with diabetes, prevent anemia, reduce your risk of cancer and even help you lose weight.
One of the healthiest oils, olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (popularly known as MUFAs) and vitamin E. MUFAs are believed to be able to help your body burn body fat, particularly around your waist. According to editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello and nutrition director Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, authors of Flat Belly Diet!, MUFAs have been shown to lower bad cholesterol, help prevent hardening of the arteries and reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, research has linked MUFAs to reduced rates of Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, breast cancer, lower blood pressure, brain health, lung function, anti-inflammation, lower body weight and reduced belly fat.
More power foods for super health