Sunday, October 11, 2009

Positively Ageless Foods

Cheryl Forberg, nutritionist for the The Biggest Loser, writes the following about what she calls Postively Ageless Foods

1. Antiaging Fruits

Although whole fruits are, in general, excellent sources of antiaging nutrients , pomegranates, blueberries, plums and purple grapes stand out from the pack. Pomegranates contain the most concentrated source of antioxidants from fruit. Plums (and prunes) contain boron, a mineral thought to play a key role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Along with purple grapes, plums also contain phenolic compounds. These rich reserves of antioxidants are thought to reduce the incidence of heart disease by slowing the oxidation process and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Blueberries contain compounds that not only prevent loss of age-related impairments of memory and motor coordination, but they may actually help reverse the process. Berries contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant with triple the power of vitamin C. This phytochemical is known to block cancer-causing cell damage and the effects of many age-related diseases. Fresh or dried, plums, grapes and berries are available year-round and offer a delicious way to protect the body against free radicals, cancers and heart disease.

2. Antiaging Vegetables

Tomatoes, squash, spinach and other leafy greens are excellent sources of fat-soluble antioxidants , meaning they are stored by the body. The carotenoid veggies (identified by their typical orange-yellow color) are perhaps best-known for their ability to be converted to vitamin A, a powerful antiaging ally. Essential for healthy vision, vitamin A plays many roles in maintaining youthful body tissue. Its powerful antioxidant effect boosts immune system function, provides protection from sunburn, and inhibits the development of certain types of cancers. Vitamin A is also involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin and hair.

3. Whole Grains

Whole grains are a powerhouse of antiaging nutrients. They contain many of the same antioxidants found in both fruits and vegetables. From stone-ground cornmeal to bulgur wheat and brown rice, whole grains are diverse in form and flavor and rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber.

4. Salmon, Flax and Omega-3s

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. Because our body doesn't produce them, it's essential that we include them in our diet. In addition to helping our mood and brain function, omega 3s are vital for healthy skin, hair, and healthy heart. Though cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, are excellent sources, omega 3s are also found in seaweed, watercress, flaxseed, walnuts and almonds.

5. Legumes

The least expensive group of antiaging foods has priceless antiaging benefits. Hundreds of beans, peas, peanuts and lentils belong to the legume family. An excellent source of fiber, legumes are also rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants. In addition, their high protein and complex carbohydrate profile provides steady energy that lasts for hours.

One of the bean families' prized claims is its incomparable amount of soluble fiber. A daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18%, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease. Most legumes contain protease inhibitors. Another legume, peanuts contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that fights heart disease by decreasing the oxidation of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and preventing blood clotting. Peanuts also contain phytosterols, which play a protective role in fighting cancer.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a welcome addition to an antiaging diet. It's true that most of their calories are from fat, so we need to indulge wisely. But, in conjunction with a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, nuts and seeds provide protection from heart disease and a potential reduction in blood pressure. They're also rich in protein, and many nuts contain essential fats such as omega 3s.

Like peanuts, avocado and soy foods, many nuts and seeds also contain phytosterols, the "cholesterol clones." Phytosterols not only promote heart health but are also thought to slow cell reproduction in the large intestine, thereby possibly preventing colon cancer.

7. Tea and Cocoa

Both green and black teas are excellent sources of potent polyphenols, strong antioxidants with cardio- protective benefits, including decreased cholesterol absorption, decreased platelet activity and reduced oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Green tea also appears to fight some cancer cells.

Ounce for ounce, natural (nonalkalized) cocoa powder boasts the highest concentration of antioxidants of all. The antioxidants they contain help to reduce heart disease. They are also responsible for blood vessel dilation, thus promoting blood flow and reducing risk for heart disease.

8. Olive Oil

This healthy fat contains most of the top antiaging nutrients. The first press or extra virgin oils have a higher concentration of vitamin E, omega 3s and many antioxidants. Choose extra virgin oil for uncooked dishes, in which the oil's assertive flavors will complement the finished flavor. The lighter (non extra virgin) olive oils contain lower concentrations of antiaging nutrients, but they withstand the higher temperatures required for cooking. They also have a milder flavor and can be used in sweet as well as savory baking. Like other good fats found in avocados and nuts and seeds, olive oil is rich in calories so small amounts should be used, especially when trying to lose weight.

9. Spices and Herbs

A wide range of spices and herbs are staples of the antiaging pantry. Cinnamon contains a compound that makes insulin more sensitive. Turmeric contains a potent antioxidant with anticarcinogenic properties, and oregano has antibiotic benefits. Other antioxidant-rich seasonings include cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, lavender, mint, onions, rosemary and saffron .

To learn more about Cheryl and her work, visit her Web site at

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