I am always looking for ways to stay healthy naturally and for foods that promote this. I recently came across this list of Super Foods that are not your general run of the mill foods and are probably not mainstays in your diet but that really pack a punch when it comes to antioxidants and essential vitamins as well as having cancer-fighting properties and immune-boosting power.
Get Healthy With These Unusual Super Foods
**Yerba Mate- A South American herbal tea that is more popular in than coffee in parts of Argentina and Brazil. It is higher in heart-healthy anti-oxidants than both green tea and red wine according to a 2005 study by Touro University in Vallejo, Calif. Anecdotal reports tout it as a weight-loss aid because it apparently makes people feel full more quickly while eating. Yerba Mate tastes like green tea, but with a grassy, slightly bitter flavor so you could add some Stevia (all natural sweetner) or honey. Sounds good to me and if it helps with heart healthy anti-oxidants and to lose weight you can't go wrong.
**Sour Cherries-These are not the sweet type that you buy to eat and spit out the pits at each other (that is what we did as kids-pit spitting contests). These are the small, sour ones grown for jams, baking and freezing. Sour cherries are a natural source of the anti-inflammatory compounds found in ibuprofen. Just 12 ounces of Montmorency cherry juice per day can help reduce muscle pain caused by exercise, according to a 2006 study conducted by the University of Vermont. The lead researcher from this study recommends people to drink the cherry juice before exercising. The antioxidant pigments in red, blue and purple foods called Anthocyanins are credited with sour cherries' anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. As far back as the 1950's sour cherries have been promoted as a home remedy for gout, a form of arthritis although no research supports this. Now if you like tart foods (I do) you can eat the sour Montmorency cherries on their own or you can drink the juice to receive the same benefits. Add fresh or frozen sour cherries to smoothies, pancakes, cakes, breads, salads, anywhere you want to throw them in for their great health benefits.
**Pomegranate-There have been various studies on the benefits of Pomegranate that show the health benefits. A 2006 study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that consuming 8 ounces of antioxidant-rich pomegrante juice a day can slow down the spread of prostate cancer. Other studies have shown that Pomegranate lowers blood pressure and is beneficial in preventing osteoarthitis and heart disease. Great way to get Pomegranate is to drink the juice straight.
**Sesame- Sesame seeds contain high amounts of lignans-this is the same thing found in flaxseeds that may help women balance hormones. It is has also been shown that eating just 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds a day can lower cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of heart attack (study in Nutrition research 2005). I personally love sesame seeds and could just eat and eat them. I probably should eat them more if they help with hormones as I can be awfully cranky once in awhile.
**Mangosteen- This fruit is found in Southeast Asia and South America and has a floral flavor and texture similar to a plum. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it can harbor pests the U.s. Department of Agriculture prohibits importation of it. In March 2006 a study conducted at Ohio State University reviewed the high levels of xanthones, antioxidant compounds that fight inflammation. Mangosteen products have high levels of antioxidants. It has also been said that drinking a small amount of mangosteen liquid will have a positive effect in cancer prevention. If you would like to try mangosteen you can purchase the juice made from the whole fruit (the rind contains most of the benefits).
I have tried the pomegranate juice, sesame seeds and the sour cherries but have yet to try mangosteen and Yerba mate. It is so exciting to find that we can possibly prevent so many diseases by just eating a few healthy foods!!! I think I will go and get some yerba mate today. How about you?
Information from this article came from the Whole Foods March/April 2008 magazine.