9 food that pack a nutritional punch

Several studies have linked the cooked tomatoes in ketchup, soups, and sauces to a reduced risk of prostate cancer and other cancers of digestive tract. Tomatoes contain lycopene, probably the most powerful antioxidant among the carotenoids. Raw tomatoes are valuable source of vitamin C.

Spinach is loaded with iron and folate. Folate not only prevents neural-tube defects in babies but also lowers blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that irritates blood vessels and is linked to heart disease. Spinach contains two phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin, that seem to ward off macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. One cup of spinach contains just 41 calories and no fat.

Red wine
The skins of the grapes used to make red wine contain supercharged antioxidants known as polyphenols, including one called resveratrol, which boosts HDL cholesterol. Polyphenols may also inhibit the production of endothelin 1, a peptide that contributes to hardening of the arteries.

Nuts are loaded with monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Nuts lower blood levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol - a perfect formula for preventing heart disease. Many nuts, such as pecans and walnuts, also contain a phytochemical called ellagic acid (which seems to trigger a process known as apoptosis, in which cancer cells kill themselves). Nuts provide another benefit: they contain vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that may help ward off heart disease and cancer.

It boasts a fistful of phytochemicals, including sulforaphane and indole-3carbinol, that may detoxify cancer-causing substances before they have a chance to cause harm. In women, indole-3-carbinol may turn the estrogen associated with breast cancer into a more benign form. Regular consumption of broccoli reduces the risk of breast, colon and stomach cancers. Broccoli is a rich source of beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamin C.

They contain beta-glucan, a spongy, soluble fiber that mops up the precursors of cholesterol in the intestines and whisks them out of the body. Oats may also help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Other benefits: the oat is one of the few grains that contain hard-to-find antioxidants, such as the vitamin E-like compounds called tocotrienols. Another benefit is that the dietary fiber and protein in oats make you feel full fast.

The key to salmon's health benefits are algae. Algae boast a special kind of fat, known as omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent platelets in the blood from clumping together and sticking to arterial walls in the form of plaque. They also drive down triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Omega-3s may block the production of inflammatory substances linked to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and may help  protect brain cells from the diseases of aging, like Alzheimer's.

What makes garlic (and your breath) smell so bad is precisely what makes it so healthy. The odor factors are sulfur-based compounds known as allyl sulfides. Sulfides can reduce cholesterol and may make the blood less sticky. Garlic also has antibacterial and antifungal powers. To release garlic's potent compounds, you need to smash, mash or mince it. Cooking it for a long time or at a high heat may destroy its beneficial substances.

Green tea
Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, a class of phytochemicals with 100 times the antioxidant punch of vitamin C. One group of polyphenols in green tea called catochins may inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, which some scientists think may help prevent cancer by depriving early tumors of nourishment.
Drinking green tea daily is linked with a lowered risk of stomach, esophageal and liver cancers.

They may contain more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. The most powerful health-promoting compounds in blueberries are anthocyanins, phytochemicals that belong to the flavonoid family. Besides combatting the free-radical damage linked to heart disease and cancer, anthocyanins may boost brainpower. Another blueberry benefit: like cranberries, they seem to fight off urinary-tract infections by preventing E.coli bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.


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