Superfoods for Conquering the Pain of Arthritis

With some thought and planning, it’s easy to make these nutrient-dense foods part of your daily diet. With choices from virtually every food group, you’ll soon be well on your way to arming yourself to battle the pain of arthritis and begin to manage it from the inside out.

Salmon is among the richest sources of healthy fats, making it an ideal source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, salmon contains calcium, vitamin D, and folate. Besides helping with arthritis, eating salmon may protect the cardiovascular system by preventing blood clots, repairing artery damage, raising levels of good cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure.

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Commonly referred to as one of nature’s ‘perfect foods,’ bananas are perhaps best known for packing potassium, but they’re also good sources of arthritis-fighting vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin C. They’re easy for your body to digest, and since they’re a great source of soluble fiber, they are an important player in your weight loss efforts, because you fell full after eating one without consuming a large number of calories.

If you are in need of vitamin C but aren’t a big fan of citrus fruits, reach for a green pepper. A single green pepper contains 176 percent of your daily needs for vitamin C — and colorful red and yellow varieties have more than double that amount. That makes them richer in C than citrus fruits, but sweet peppers are also excellent sources of vitamin B6 and folate.

Vitamin D is a tough one to come by in foods, but shrimp fills that bill, since they have about 30 percent of the daily recommended amount in about three ounces – much more than a cup of milk. Shrimp also contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C, along with other nutrients essential for general health, including iron and vitamin B12.

Hard or soft, fresh or ripened, cheese in all its variety is an excellent source of calcium for bones, and protein for muscles and other joint-supporting tissues. Cheese can be easily sliced to put on a cracker or a sandwich, grated into your favorite recipe, or eaten alongside an apple or pear for a fresh, quick snack.

Green tea contains hundreds of powerful antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols and has been cited for helping prevent problems ranging from cancer to heart disease. But studies also suggest green tea may help prevent or ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

 

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Superfoods for your Brain

We’ve all had days when we didn’t feel like we were ‘on our game.’ And as we age, both our bodies and our brain grow old as well. By making smart food choices though, we can preserve our precious gray matter longer and improve brain function. Here are some brainy choices for keeping our noggins in tip-top shape.

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Blueberries have been shown to shield the brain from stress, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Research has also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills.

Avocados, though considered a ‘fatty fruit,’ contribute to healthy blood flow and decreased blood pressure, lessening the chances of developing hypertension, which can lead to a stroke.

Deep-water fish, such as salmon is a wise, freshwater fish choice. It’s abundant in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for healthy brain function.

Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, an important vitamin needed by your brain to stave off declining cognitive functions. Cashews, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower and sesame seeds and almonds are all great choices.

Whole-grain breads, brown rice, and oatmeal also contribute to a healthy brain by reducing the risk for cardiac disease. By promoting a healthy heart and improved blood flow, the brain is sure to thrive via excellent oxygen and nutrient delivery through the bloodstream. Complex carbohydrates also supply the brain with a steady stream of glucose that enhances brain function. It’s important to avoid simple carbohydrates often found in junk food because the glucose gives the brain a short-lived sugar high, often followed by a crash that makes you feel hungry and tired.

Freshly brewed tea also has potent antioxidants, especially the class known as catechines, which also promotes healthy blood flow. Since black teas do contain caffeine it’s important to use it sensibly.

Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, which enhance focus and concentration, and encourages the production of endorphin, which helps improve mood. Again, moderation is the key.

 

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Super Foods for Super Weight Loss

Experts say there are two basic categories of foods that can be considered “keeping it off superfoods” because they fill your tummy without piling on the calories: fruits and vegetables. And the nutrient that gives fruits and vegetables that ‘staying power?’ Fiber. So, if fruits and vegetables are the “keeping-it-off superfood groups,” fiber may well be the “keeping-it-off super-nutrient.” Protein is another super-nutrient. It’s becoming more scientifically accepted that protein may help to curb appetite. Protein also offers staying power, and can slightly boost your metabolism in the process. But it’s imperative that you choose your proteins wisely, because like all other foods, if you’re eating more than your body needs, it’ll show up on the scale as a gain, instead of a loss.

The following superfoods are smart, low-calorie choices that will benefit your weight loss efforts:

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Green Tea – Researchers suspect that the catechins (helpful phyto-chemicals) in green tea may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and mildly decrease body fat. So indulge in either a hot cup or a nice tall iced glass of green tea.

Broth- or tomato-based soup – Soups can help reduce hunger before meals and increase your feeling of fullness.

Low-calorie green salads – Having a low-calorie salad – which is not defined as one that’s loaded with croutons, high fat dressings, and cheese – as a first course can help you feel full, thereby reducing how much you eat with your main course. Wisely choose your ingredients, and its high fiber content can be the key to helping you fight cravings later in the day.

Yogurt – Including dairy products as part of your healthy diet may promote your weight loss efforts. Choosing a light yogurt may help you fight off hunger pangs due to its combination of protein and carbohydrate.

Beans – A great combination of fiber and protein, beans help you feel full longer, which means they may work to curb your between-meal appetite.

Water – Water is your body’s lifeblood, and you should be drinking it through your day. It’s a great no-calorie beverage, and you can get it by drinking unsweetened tea, flavored unsweetened mineral water, regular water with lime or lemon, or even in your cucumber. In addition to helping flush toxins from the body, it can also help you feel full. So when those hunger pangs strike, try drinking a glass of water before grabbing that snack.

High-Fiber, Whole-Grain Cereal – Whole grains in general help boost fiber and the nutritional value of your meal. One of the easiest ways to give your daily diet a whole-grain boost is to have a bowl of higher-fiber whole-grain cereal as breakfast or a snack.

 

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Superfoods that Squash Stress

Life has a way of getting the best of us some days. Whether it’s working too many hours, shuffling your kids all over town for their activities, taking care of your household, or dealing with personal or family matters, stress can take its toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But there are simple steps you can take to combat stress, starting with the foods you eat.

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is a good start when life’s particularly stressful. Stimulants and depressants like these can both zap your energy and rob you of the fuel you need to successfully cope with tension. Sugary foods should also be avoided as well, as they cause your blood sugar levels to spike then dip rapidly, which can in turn make your energy levels spike and dip at the same rate.

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However, there are several superfoods out there that provide you with the energy and nutrition your body needs to keep stress in check

Asparagus, which is high in folic acid, can help level out your moods. Folic acid and vitamin B are key players in producing serotonin, a chemical that gets you into a good mood.

And though we may hear negative things regarding red meat, it’s actually a wise dinner option for a stressed-out family. Beef’s high levels of iron, zinc and B vitamins not only help get you into a good mood, but help you stay there as well. Your local butcher can help you select lean cuts for the healthiest options

Milk really does a body good. Chock full of calcium, protein, antioxidants, and vitamins B2 and B12, it helps strengthen bones and promotes healthy cell regeneration. Paired with a healthy whole-grain cereal choice in the morning, low-fat milk is a great way to start your day and arm yourself to do battle with the stressors that await you. Cottage cheese is also another great dairy choice, and when coupled with a fruit that’s high in vitamin C, it helps the body battle free radicals that run rampant during your most stressed periods.

Almonds are also an awesome choice when it comes to arming yourself against stress. They’re high in magnesium, zinc, as well as vitamins B2, C, and E and unsaturated fats, all which are great warriors against free radicals, which have been shown to cause cancers and heart disease.

 

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Superfoods that have your Heart in Mind

Heart disease is number one killer among both men and women in the United States. And though we all realize that eating nutrient-dense healthy foods help reduce the risk, we may not know which foods are the best choices to battle this deadly disease head on.

The key is stepping up fiber and choosing unsaturated fats. Eating unsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil, can help to reduce triglycerides. And a diet rich in soluble fiber, which is often found in legumes and some fruits and vegetables, helps to decrease LDL cholesterol levels.

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Sardines are an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, along with calcium and niacin. You can prepare fresh ones on the grill, or canned sardines work great in salads or sandwiches. Mackerel is another excellent source of omega-3s, and is full of selenium, which is an antioxidant mineral which may help protect the body from heart disease and cancer. A great way to get omega-3s on the go is by grabbing a handful of walnuts for an afternoon snack. Add some to your green salad, or give chicken salad a nutrition boost by adding ground walnuts.

Kidney beans are an affordable source of high fiber, are low fat, and have no cholesterol. Add them to salads and chili, as they truly are almost a perfect health food. Since canned varieties tend to be higher in sodium, try to use the dried varieties whenever possible.

Whole-grain barley is rich in soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, which is good for combating constipation. It’s also a good protein source and has a good supply of iron and minerals. Choose whole-grain barley cereals, or substitute whole-grain barley for rice and pasta side dishes once a week.

Oatmeal is a great way to boost your fiber content early in the morning, and it also has a low glycemic index, which helps to provide lasting energy stave off hunger. Choose rolled oats, and add some raisins, apples, and honey for flavor. Instant oatmeal isn’t a healthy option as it’s usually loaded with sugar.

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Super foods for a Super Long Life

Recent research shows that specific chemicals in foods — such as sulforaphane, a phytochemical in broccoli — work with your genes to ratchet up your body’s natural defense systems, helping to inactivate toxins and free radicals before they can do the damage that leads to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even premature aging.

And the hope for the future is to be able to tell someone what diseases or maladies they are might be genetically pre-dispositioned to early on, so their diets can be focused accordingly. We’ll know which ones to add, which ones to avoid, and be able to take a proactive role in preventing or deterring a genetic disease. In the meantime, many foods have been determined to pack a punch to the aging process.

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Lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red, also appears to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and macular degeneration. It’s also been associated in greater self-sufficiency in elderly adults. While fresh tomatoes have a good hit of lycopene, the most absorbable forms are found in cooked tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce and soup and prepared salsas. Pink grapefruit, guava, red bell peppers, and watermelon are also rich in lycopene.

Eating at least two cups of orange fruits like sweet potatoes, squash and carrots boosts intake of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, essential for healthy skin and eyes, and which may also reduce the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Lutein and lycopene, also found in orange produce, also help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and may protect skin from sun damage and even reduce wrinkling as well. Mangos and cantaloupes are also beta-carotene endowed.

And if you don’t do anything else to change your diet, eat your dark leafy greens. They have been showed to significantly reduce your risk for heart disease and may also save your eyesight. Dietary guidelines advise at least three cups of greens a week. Frozen or bagged is as good as fresh.

Don’t forget the mental aging process either. The heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids have also recently been shown to keep your brain sharp. A recent study found that a higher intake of fatty fish significantly reduced mental decline. If fresh fish isn’t an option, go for canned tuna, salmon, and sardines.

 

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Superfoods to Rejuvenate Body, Mind and Spirit

When the goal is rejuvenating the body, mind and spirit, the method should be smaller, more frequent snacks and meals. This will help keep energy levels on an even keel, and regulate your blood sugar levels to avoid spikes and dips. When you choose the right combination of foods, your body gets the much-needed boost it needs to sustain itself properly, even through those slumps later in the day. So dump those high sugar junk foods and reach for the following foods and get that boost you need.

Any fresh fruit, especially with skins or seeds like peaches, apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries, is a great source of vitamins and fiber. In the summer you can choose a peach and get plenty of dietary fiber, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, beta carotene and vitamin A, plus high amounts of vitamin C. Niacin is important for providing energy for cell tissue growth. Along with regulating fluid balance, potassium helps maintain the electrical stability of the cells of your heart and nervous system and is important for cell and muscle growth. Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, nerve function, and metabolizing protein and fat.

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Dried Apricots and Almonds combination provides a high amount of vitamin A, iron protein and dietary fiber. Both foods are low in cholesterol and sodium, and apricots are a great source of potassium, which is important in regulating your body’s fluid balance. The vitamin A in apricots contributes to healthy vision, bone growth, and reproduction, and helps fight infection.

Raisins are a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-sodium snack with significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, copper, and iron, and when mixed with low-fat yogurt, you also get riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B12, as well as a high amount of calcium, which is needed not only for strong bones and teeth but also plays a key role in the normal functioning of the heart and other muscles.

Baby carrots and sesame sticks are a tasty treat that will provide significant amounts of beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper, and fiber. Beta carotene helps protect against diseases like heart disease and some cancers.

Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, for better night vision, and to fight infection and respiratory ailments. Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential to human life, helping to form red blood cells and break down proteins, and playing a key role in cell growth and division.

Peanut butter on some whole grain crackers is an excellent source of protein, iron, niacin, and fiber. Peanut butter on celery is a classic snack, has great staying power, and the celery is stuffed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and is high in fiber. Low-fat string cheese is a good quick source of protein and calcium. They come in easy-to-carry individual servings and you can add a piece of fresh fruit for extra fiber.

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