THE food we eat has a dramatic effect on our lives in so many ways – our bodily and mental health, our energy and our ability to fight off disease. Scientists have pinpointed the Wonderfoods that make a massive difference to our well-being and losing weight.
Easily digested and packed with good natural sugars so the body can readily use the fuel they provide (that’s why tennis stars munch them between games). The fibres they contain help soothe your digestive system and feed beneficial bacteria. Bananas are a good source of amino acid which helps to produce the hormone which puts us into a good mood. Unusually for fruit they are a source of vitamin B6 and E, plus vitamin C and potassium which replaces salt lost through sweat.
For centuries, healers in India and the Middle East have used pomegranate to heal everything from diarrhoea to conjunctivitis. Now scientists recognise the fruit as one of Nature’s greatest wonderfoods, because of its high anti-oxidant content which protects against cell damage and heart disease.
Popeye was right – spinach contains iron which is vital for growth and muscle building and is also good for girls when puberty starts. Iron helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the cells, which is why a symptom of iron deficiency is tiredness. Spinach is a good source of folic acid, vital for proper growth, and vitamin K which helps with blood clotting and healthy bones.
Sweet fresh beetroot is a tonic for the digestive system and the liver and contains anti-oxidants which boost the immune system and help protect against heart disease and cancer. Beetroot is especially high in the B vitamin folic acid which young people need for proper growth and development.
No fruit has more water in it than a watermelon – an amazing 97%. As well as rehydrating you, watermelon contains diluted natural sugar to provide energy. Like melons, their colourful flesh is packed with immune-system boosters to boost the body’s defences and carotenoids to promote healthy skin, eyes and lungs. Good source of vitamins A and C.
We all know the orange’s legendary reputation for being a major source of vitamin C, but it is also packed with other powerful defence boosters which can protect against heart disease and cancer. Oranges also contain chemicals which are anti-allergenic, and there’s a lot of rich nutrients in the pith, so don’t peel them too closely.
Wards off vampires but more importantly it helps to reduce cholesterol and blood fats. Has proven anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, fights viral conditions and can help protect against stomach cancers.
Apart from making you cry, onions help prevent heart disease and also reduce the risks of bladder cancer in smokers. Onions help balance blood sugar levels so are important for diabetics and for helping prevent obesity.
Shop-bought honey can be packed with sugar, so be careful. But honey from a beekeeper is full of natural goodness. It reduces stomach ulcers, helps in treating gastro-enteritis and is a soothing remedy for minor wounds, burns and sore throats.
Jam-packed with goodness with anti-oxidants which lowers the risk of prostate, mouth, oesophagus, stomach and colon cancers. Also reduces heart disease and has been shown to stimulates mental and physical activity in the elderly. Good in a cheese sarnie, too.
We mean cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, turnips etc. They boosts the immune system and help prevents cancer, spina bifida and heart disease. The sulphur in cabbage helps the liver work well and promotes healthy skin and broccoli is valuable for helping balance the menstrual cycle.
Half the world lives on rice and research shows brown rice contains six times more nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E, folic acid and zinc than the white variety. Rice reduces the risks of colon cancer, helps to maintain the nervous system and reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Fungi have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years and modern research shows mushrooms help prevent heart disease. In Japan, mushrooms are used with chemotherapy to treat cancer patients. They boost the immune system by stimulating white blood cells and also provide protein and iron.
Tea (yes, tea!)
The Chinese have said for 5,000 years that drinking tea is good for your health and now scientists have discovered it’s true. Tea contains anti-oxidants which help prevent heart and kidney disease and lower the risk of strokes in the elderly. Tea drinking on a regular basis can help fight obesity as it speeds up the burning of fat calories.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries, they call contain vitamins that reduce the risks of cancer. Berries also prevent varicose veins, ease rheumatoid arthritis and are recommended by doctors for treating urinary tract infections.
Recommended reading: Wonderfoods for Kids by Natalie Savona (published by Quadrille Publishing)