Tuesday, September 5, 2006

10 Super Foods

Eat to your health with these 10 super foods

The Wichita Eagle

Can you eat your way to good health? Well, there are no guarantees. But here's what we can guarantee: Make these 10 foods part of your diet, and you'll be giving your body lots of what it needs in terms of nutrients.

We chose them because they're the foods mentioned over and over again, in medical studies and on lists of "super foods." For expert advice on why they're good picks, we turned to two Wichita-area dietitians, Linda Nye of the Wichita Clinic and Diane Heilman Felt, director of nutrition and head of pastoral care at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital in El Dorado.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 10 foods you should be eating, plus a way to combine three in an easy dessert:


Apples are full of soluble fiber, which provides a feeling of fullness. They also are rich in flavonoids, to promote heart health and help prevent cancer and inflammation. Have one before dinner, to take the edge off your appetite.


The fat in almonds is unsaturated, a healthier choice. Almonds have a cholesterol-lowering effect. They also seem to lower the risk of sudden cardiac death and Type 2 diabetes. But go easy: An ounce -- 12 to 15 nuts -- is plenty.


Broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrition, Nye says. It's packed with vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium, to make your bones strong. Broccoli makes an important contribution in reducing heart attack risk, and it may prevent cancer. (Just hold the cheese sauce.)


Blueberries are one of nature's richest sources of antioxidants, which means they fight cell-damaging free radicals. And that means they help prevent cancer -- and slow the aging process, too. "Besides," says Felt, "they taste great."


OK, they don't have to be red. Beans, in general, are a great addition to a top-10 foods list. They're low in fat and high in fiber, and they help protect against heart disease.


Salmon is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep triglyceride levels normal, and it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with rheumatoid arthritis pain. Omega-3s also help sharpen memory. Wild salmon is less likely to have worrisome contaminants than farmed salmon.


Spinach is low in calories and rich in calcium and vitamin K. The antioxidants in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach also help protect against cataracts. The only negative is the oxalates in spinach, which decrease the calcium absorption, so make sure you get enough in other foods.


Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C. Beta-carotene helps prevent cancer, and fiber helps fill you up and keep you full. Foods rich in beta-carotene also seem to have protective effects for the eyes, preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.


Any whole grain is good for you, providing lots of B vitamins and fiber, to keep you feeling full all morning long. Oats have an edge in that they've also been shown to lower cholesterol. And a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast will help stabilize your blood sugar level until lunchtime.


Lycopene is what gives tomatoes their red coloring. It's a powerful anti-oxidant related to beta-carotene, and foods rich in lycopene can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and breast and prostate cancer. Lycopene is easier to absorb from cooked tomatoes -- spaghetti sauce, for example -- but fresh works, too.

Honorable mention

These foods are on other "superfoods" lists and also deserve a place on your table:

• Wheat germ

• Pomegranates

• Kiwis

• Onions

• Garlic

• Pumpkin

• Soy

• Skinless turkey breast

• Walnuts

• Yogurt

• Oranges

• Skim milk

• Watermelon

• Brown rice

• Butternut squash

• Eggs

• Olive oil

• Raspberries

• Cinnamon

• Dark chocolate

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