The Top Healing Foods
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The Top Healing Foods
1. Fish and Fish Oil
Since salmon caught in the wild are a richer source of omega-3 fats, protein, potassium, vitamins, and minerals, purchase fresh salmon and other fish from your local fish market or Health food store that is labeled “Alaskan” or wild-caught. Wild-caught fish is an absolutely incredible food and should be consumed liberally. If you aren’t able to consume enough fish, you should consider adding cod-liver oil to your daily diet. Cod-liver oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids out there.
2. Cultured Dairy Products from Goats, Cows, and Sheep
Dairy products derived from goat’s milk and sheep’s milk can be healthier for some individuals than those from cows, although dairy products from organic or grass-fed cows can be excellent as well, as long as the dairy is non-homogenized. Goat’s milk is less allergenic because it does not contain the same complex proteins found in cow’s milk. Goat’s milk contains higher amounts of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) than other milks, and contains 7 percent less lactose than cow’s milk. It’s been said that raw or cultured goat’s milk fully digests in a baby’s stomach in just twenty minutes, while pasteurized cow’s milk takes eight hours. The difference lies in the goat milk’s structure: its fat and protein molecules are tiny in size, which allows for rapid absorption in the digestive tract. I do not recommend drinking 2 percent or skim milk, even though we’re told that it’s healthier for the body than the full-fat version. The reason I say this is that removing the fat makes the milk less nutritious and less digestible, and can cause allergies.
3. Olive Oil
Long a staple in Mediterranean diets, olive oil is a natural juice that preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins, and properties of the olive fruit. Studies have shown that olive oil, high in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, protects us from heart disease by controlling LDL (or bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (or good) cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that various properties of olive oil, such as flavonoids, squalene, and polyphenols, may protect us from cancer. Flavonoids and polyphenols are antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage from oxygen-containing chemicals called “free radicals.” I do not recommend using high-quality extra-virgin olive oil in cooking, however, because certain nutrients in the olive oil break down when subjected to high heat.
4. Small Fruits Such as Figs, Grapes, and Berries
Whether eaten fresh or dried, figs are a good source of Fiber and potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure. Many people are potassium-deficient because they do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and they consume high amounts of sodium found in processed foods. Low intake of potassium-rich foods plus high intake of sodium equals hypertension. Grapes are a wonderful source of fiber and antioxidants. Berries are true nutritional powerhouses. They are low in calories and among the highest antioxidant-containing foods on the planet.
5. Soups and Stocks
I was rarely sick growing up, but on the few occasions when I caught a cold, Mom served up a heaping helping of “Jewish penicillin,” otherwise known as homemade chicken soup. There’s something about making zesty soup from scratch with fiber-rich vegetables such as celery, carrots, onion, and zucchini. Stocks, which are also called broth, are extremely nutritious and swimming with minerals, cartilage, collagen, and electrolytes. Meat, fish, and chicken stocks also contain generous amounts of natural gelatin, an odorless, tasteless substance extracted by boiling bones and animal tissues. Easy to digest, gelatin aids in digestion. Chicken stock, for example, is made mostly of chicken parts with a low flesh-to-bone ratio. Backs, necks, and breastbones produce the best stock. Stocks and broth are especially beneficial to people with intestinal disease because they are high in nutrients that the gastrointestinal tract can easily absorb.
6. Healthy Saturated Fats
For fifty years, Americans have been told to avoid the fats found in butter and whole milk, even though human beings have been eating butter from grass-fed cows and other animal fats for thousands of years. Instead of these healthy saturated fats, our diets have increased the intake of polyunsaturated and hydrogenated fats, mainly because of the increased consumption of processed oils. Yet the verdict is in: the rate of heart disease has steadily increased, and we have a growing obesity problem in this country. Whole milk butter produced from cattle grazing in rapidly growing grasses is loaded with Vitamins A, D, and E. The reason I say “rapidly growing” is that the quality of the vitamins is directly related to the quality of the cow’s foraging. As long as the cows have fresh, fast-growing grass to munch on, the milk will be high in vitamin content. Use extra-virgin coconut oil anytime you cook foods in a pan or bake something in the oven.
7. Honey and Pomegranate
Mankind’s oldest sweetener—honey—comes from the nectar of flowers and nature’s most efficient factory—the beehive. Another first-rate source of antioxidants, best eaten raw and unheated, which preserves the naturally occurring enzymes and bee pollen. Pomegranate, which has 613 seeds, is renowned for its antioxidant qualities.
8. Soaked and Sprouted Seeds and Grains
Tasty foods rich in antioxidants are sprouted grains, seeds, and nuts, which retain their plant enzymes when they are not cooked. This process greatly helps digestion. When soaked or allowed to germinate, these abundant sources of nutrients transform into nutritional powerhouses that produce vitamin C and various vitamin B’s—B2, B5, and B6. Those with wheat intolerances may want to try sprouted wheat bread because the digestive system will be more apt to accept sprouted grains. Soaked and sprouted seeds are great parts of a healthy diet.
9. Cultured and Fermented Vegetables
Often greeted with upturned noses at the dinner table, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickled carrots, beets, or cucumbers are overlooked, even though they are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Raw cultured or fermented vegetables supply the body with useful organisms known as probiotics, as well as many vitamins, including vitamin C. If you’ve never put a fork on any of these foods, I urge you to sample sauerkraut or pickled beets, which are readily available in health food stores.
10. Organ Meats
Here’s another esoteric food that doesn’t land on too many plates these days, and even leading natural health authorities don’t issue a “buy call” on organ meats because of their fear that these meats, such as the liver or the heart, contain too many toxins. I concur with that fear, but consuming liver from organically raised, grass-fed cattle mitigates those concerns in my mind. By eating the most nutrient-dense parts of the cattle, such as the liver, you consume nature’s richest sources of vitamins A, D, B6, and B12; folic acid; iron; and various fatty acids.
11. Fermented Beverages
Few people have heard of fermented beverages such as kefir, grape cooler, natural ginger ale, kombucha, and kvass, but they are worth checking out in well-stocked health food stores. They can even be made at home. These beverages contain lactic acid and supply beneficial probiotics, enzymes, and Minerals to the digestive system. Fermented beverages relieve constipation problems, Cleanse the colon and gallbladder, aid in the relief of arthritis, and promote overall well-being.
12. Green Vegetables
Right behind organ meats in nutrient density are green vegetables, which say “radiant health” in various hues of blue, purple, red, and yellow. When served farm fresh, green vegetables do not contain additives, preservatives, food colorings, or artificial flavorings. It’s universally recommended that you eat three to five or more servings daily of leafy green vegetables to maintain a healthy body. Greens contain large amounts of beta-carotene and folic acid, which lowers elevated blood levels of homocysteine, a known precursor to coronary heart disease. Folic acid can be destroyed in the cooking process, so green vegetables are best eaten raw, as in a salad, or lightly cooked by steaming.
Most canned vegetables should be “canned” because the manufacturing process destroys vitamins. The only exception is canned tomatoes, whose carotenes remain intact during the canning process. Frozen vegetables are okay, but just okay. You’re always going to be better off eating fresh, organic vegetables picked and packaged from the farm. I know that incorporating the foods I’ve been describing probably involves a whole new paradigm of eating, but I encourage you to take small steps. You’ll be glad you did because you’ll feel better and live longer.
|by Jordan Rubin|