Wednesday 22 August 2018

Top 10 Local Summer Superfoods

Everyone talks about exotic superfoods but let’s face it: most carry a heavy carbon footprint as they often travel great distances to get to our grocery stores. Fortunately, there are lots of great local superfoods at our farmer’s markets these days. While there are many great health-promoting foods from which to choose, here are some of my preferred options due to their availability in most places and their excellent nutritional value.



Often overlooked, these stunningly beautiful black-colored berries are packed with antioxidants, cancer-preventing and heart-healing anthocyanins, making them a great choice to give your health a serious booth. Research by the USDA even shows that blackberries prevent long-term memory loss.


Just because carrots are in widespread use and cannot claim “exotic” status doesn’t mean they are any less beneficial to our health. These old standbys are not only rich sources of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A in the body, they also contain biotin and vitamin K, which help to ensure healthy skin and bones. In one study, participants who ate at least one serving of yellow-orange vegetables like carrots had healthier bone mass than those who ate less. 


It may be easy to assume that cucumbers are basically just water, but in reality these veggies are rich in minerals that are needed for great health. Cucumbers are good sources of silicon—a critical mineral for healthy, bones, teeth, nails, skin and hair. Because the bulk of the nutrients are found in the skin and seeds, it is best to buy organic cucumbers so you can eat the skin and seeds and not just the fleshy part.


Because this food/herb is grown in so many places, it is easy to forget just how many amazing medicinal properties it has. Not only is garlic’s constituent, allicin, a potent cold and flu fighter, it is also a potent natural broad-spectrum antibiotic. As if that wasn’t enough reason to love garlic and allicin, the compound has been found to inhibit esophageal, stomach and prostate cancer tumors and cause gastric cancer cell death. Fresh garlic is always best but leave it to sit exposed to the air for about 10 minutes before adding to your favorite foods to increase the health benefits found in garlic.


While wine gets all the attention, grapes are the real superfoods. According to a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the compound resveratrol found in purple and red grapes demonstrated the ability to halt colon cancer stem cells, suggesting a possible prevention and treatment strategy for the disease. Cancer stem cells are believed to manufacture new cancer cells and tumors so getting them under control may hold the key to overcoming the dreaded disease. While red wine may offer some of the health benefits of grapes, the alcohol offsets the therapeutic effects.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are good for almost everything in your body. They are nutrient powerhouses so it is a good idea to include them in your daily diet. But, you may not realize that they really shine when it comes to boosting the health of your eyes. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, beet greens, collards and lettuce contain an impressive array of eye-protecting and healing nutrients, including: alpha-carotene, alpha lipoic acid, beta-carotene, lutein, lutein and zeaxanthin.


I grew up in an Italian district of a major city so every year around August Italian plums would appear in droves, which was fine by me since I love the delicious fruits. Rich in heart-healing, anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds known as polyphenols, plums are a great addition to your diet. And, the darker the skin color, the higher the amount of polyphenols.


While many diet programs discourage eating carbohydrate foods like fruit, the reality is that raspberries are among the best foods available for weight loss. Rheosmin, found in raspberries, signals the body to stop absorbing fat. Raspberries are also a good source of ellagic acid, which has been shown to neutralize cancer-causing toxins before they can harm our genetic material.  They have also been shown in studies to reduce inflammation linked to cancer.


By the end of summer, squashes are starting to show up at local farmer’s markets. Squash are rich in carotenoids, which include the precursor to vitamin A, beta carotene. Research published in Endocrine Journal, shows that the nutrient is required for healthy beta cells in the pancreas. These are the cells that produce insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Getting enough carotenoid-rich foods like squash may, therefore, be helpful to prevent diabetes.


Tomatoes contain a powerful phytonutrient known as lycopene, which is a natural anti-cancer compound that has proven benefits for prostate and breast cancers, among others.

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