Hello everyone. How are you this week? Another full-on week this week for me as the last semester of my degree started on Monday! I can’t believe this is the last semester, the last time that I will be doing this type of coursework and exams. I need to remind myself to enjoy it!
Today we have an interesting blog post based on the book ‘How not to die’ by Michael Greger on four foods you should consume in your daily diet. These foods have been shown to promote health, wellbeing and even aid in the prevention and management of our most common chronic diseases. We can all benefit from these foods (unless allergic of course) in our diet every day, at least every week. So, let’s get started.
Before we begin, I want to preface that no particular food will act as a “superfood”. A varied diet including these foods and many, many others is needed to have a healthy diet. Please note, these are only a few of the foods that have shown to have potent health benefits. There are many more and this is not, by any means, an extensive list. I want to empower you to include foods INTO your diet, instead of encouraging you to remove foods from your diet. I want you to feel enriched by knowledge, not overwhelmed by it!
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common risk factor for cardiovascular diseases in which refers to any condition impacting the heart, valves, or rhythms. Cardiovascular disease kills more people globally every year than any other condition, disease or circumstance. Our modern issue of cardiovascular disease is staggering and so many people die prematurely from these diseases than they have to. The good news – a healthy diet and active lifestyle can largely prevent diseases of the heart and flaxseeds seem to contribute to this. Flaxseeds are miraculous foods. A prospective, double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised trial (this is very difficult when studying food) conducted on flaxseeds and their impact on hypertension found a seven-point reduction in blood pressure after 6 months of eating 25 grams of flaxseeds a day hidden in muffins. The people in the study weren’t asked to change anything about their diets or lifestyle only eating the extra flax-muffin each day. A seven-point reduction in blood pressure might not seem like much but this reduction would result in 46% less strokes and 29% less heart disease over time. The fact that a singular food alone can have such a drastic difference on our health is astonishing. Ground flaxseeds may even work 2-3 times better than the common anti-hypertensive drugs.
Flaxseeds have not only been shown to aid in cardiovascular diseases but also breast cancers. Flaxseeds are the richest source of omega-3 in the plant kingdom and has been shown to dampen the effects of oestrogen in the body. Eating around a daily tablespoon of flaxseeds a day has been shown to extend a women’s period by about a day, in turn, experiencing fewer menstrual cycles in a lifetime. This would result in less oestrogen production and a reduced breast cancer risk. Another study found that women who consumed flaxseeds in a muffin each day had a decrease in tumour-cell proliferation and an increase in cancer cell death rates.
There is so much more to say about flaxseeds and their miraculous health benefits and preventive abilities, but it would be enough to fill this entire blog post. If you can help it, I would suggest eating around a tablespoon of flaxseeds a day. Remember to grind them or buy ground flaxseed versions as whole flaxseed are hard for your body to break down and you might miss the health benefits. I add them to my breakfast, I think they are best blended and cooked in something like baked oats, muffins, or pancakes. Experiment with them, you can’t usually taste them, but I am not a massive fan of the texture (that’s why I blend them)!
In a study testing the health benefits of beetroot, beetroot juice drinkers shown an eight-point reduction in blood pressure and the benefits grew week by week. After eating beetroot, blood pressure has even been shown to drop by two points! All dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and deep coloured vegetables such as beetroot and red onions are particularly high in nutrients due to its dark colour. Usually, you can find out how much nutrients are in a food by simply looking at them. Red onions have more antioxidants than white onions, red cabbage has more nutrients than green cabbage, kale has more nutrients than lettuce, sweet potatoes more nutrients than white potatoes. You get the picture – the darker the vegetable or fruit, it seems, the healthier they are. This is a great tool to use when picking fruits and vegetables. I would recommend you eat beetroot every day and in any way you can consume it. Dark vegetables have incredible health benefits and to name a very small few in this paragraph. I usually put beetroot in my salad at lunch.
Cruciferous vegetables are foods such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts and arguably among some of the healthiest foods you can eat. Eating green vegetables may be the most powerful ways to prolong your life. Sulfophrane, considered one of the most active components in cruciferous vegetables, kills human leukaemia cells in a Petri dish while having little impact on the growth of normal, healthy cells. Kale is considered one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet – we are not eating enough kale and although not the tastiest of foods (it can be made great) it is incredibly health promoting. The nutrients in kale have been shown to help fight infections and increase antibody production in the cells (which are necessary to fight disease). Similar results have been shown with broccoli having an incredible effect on the immune system and aiding in fighting disease. The long list of health benefits from cruciferous vegetables is EXTENSIVE and you should make it a upmost priority to consume a portion or two of vegetables from this family each day. Remember, DON’T throw away the stem of the broccoli. It has been shown to contain almost double the nutrients than the tops – you don’t want to miss out on all that nutrition. So, please, believe me, you really should eat your veggies.
I am happy about this one. I shouldn’t have to convince you too much here. Berries are delicious and I can’t describe how good they are for your health. My favourites – blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries. People who regularly eat berries have a significantly reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. They have also shown to be protective against some cancers, protection for the liver and immune system and the brain. With one study suggesting that people who eat berries are significantly less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Berries may just be up there along with greens as the healthiest foods on the planet and they are AMAZING. What more could we want? I highly recommend that you include some berries into your day. I have a ton at breakfast, cooked and raw and I love them (they are a little easier to eat than kale :)).
Although many, many foods are health promoting these foods in particular, deserve an honorary mention. I would highly encourage you to include these foods in your diet first before considering the removal of any other foods. It’s never too late to start.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post.
I NEED YOUR HELP.
For podcast 50 (almost a year of my podcast) I am getting you guys involved! If you are interested in appearing in this week’s podcast get in touch. All that would be needed from you is a short voice note. See below on how to get in touch with me and I will tell you what you need to do!
Get in touch:
Last week’s podcast:
‘How Not to Die’ by Micheal Gregor and his extensive reference list and scientific literature base. This book is astonishing.