Why is there such an emphasis on fruits and vegetables when talking about healthy nutrition? What is all the fuss? Research has proven many health and healing benefits of different nutrient components of fruits from beta carotene in carrots to sulphurane in broccoli and sprouts. There are many chemical compounds that work with the cells inside of the body to both regulate and stop abnormal cell growth. In addition, vegetables contain immune boosting and anti-oxidant value which help to remove damaged cells that may cause inflammation that promotes premature aging, as well as chronic disease. After looking at several resources, we have come up with our top 10 list for vegetables to help slow the aging process and prevent diseases such as hypertention, diabetes, high cholesterol, and even cancer as well.
The most well known healing component of carrots is beta-carotene which is proven to prevent night blindness and promote overall healthy sight. In addition, beta carotene is responsible for slowing premature aging in cells. Carrots also contain selenium, a mineral that helps protect the cells from UV damage from the sun’s rays. It has been shown to help reduce a wide range of cancers including bladder, prostate, intestinal, stomach, lung, mouth and throat. In fact, another substance called falcarinol, also found in carrots has been shown by Danish researchers at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences state that cancer cells grow more slowly when exposed to this compound. Of course, there are also some studies that show that too many carrots may actually cause cancer, but you would have to be eating 2–3 kilograms of carrots daily for that to happen.
Chili Peppers & Jalapeños
Chili peppers contain a compound called Capsaicin which is known to be a potent anti-inflammatory. Capsaicin is used to decrease the inflammation of muscles and joints and is great for arthritis. Capsaicin is also thought to neutralize certain cancer causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer.
While technically sweet potatoes are a legume, their properties are worth mentioning. Like carrots, sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene. Another potential benefit of beta carotene is the protection of the DNA inside of a cell’s nucleus from cancer properties outside of the cell membrane. This same protection that beta carotene provides to the DNA is essential in minimizing cellular damage that is the cause of premature aging in cells.
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and even boysenberries are sources of many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds the prevent disease, aging, and fight free radicals. Particularly, they contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer. According to the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer in May 2002, black raspberries may fight both esophageal and colon cancers. However, in the choice between cancer fighting black raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, black raspberries are thought to hold the most cancer fighting properties so have an abundance of them.
Papaya is high in vitamin C which as earlier said is an important anti-oxidant that helps prevent cellular aging and fights free radicals that can cause cell inflammation and damage. Papaya also contains the enzyme papain which is known to support the digestive process. Papaya (also known as “paw paw” in some regions) also contains folacin (folic acid) which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia leading to cervical cancer. Folacin as earlier mention also helps prevent mutation in cells by supporting normal DNA replication in the nucleus of the cells.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body that cause cell damage. Lycopene is a carotenoid component of tomatoes, watermelons and grapefruit that gives them their color, is what carries the cancer-fighting property. High levels are not only associated with low prostate specific antigen levels, but are also thought to also lower the cancer risk for stomach, lung and breast cancer. Now it is known that lycopene is only one of the major components in tomatoes that carry cancer fighting properties.
Avocados are rich in glutathione which is a powerful antioxidants that attacks and removes cell damaging free radicals in the body. Antioxidants are key in preventing & fighting cancer, but also slow the aging process. Avocados are also a strong source of beta carotene which also protects against premature aging. Finally avocados are high in vitamin E, which helps to maintain the integrity of the cell membranes and body tissues.
The fun fruit fig is rich in vitamins A and C as well as minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These particular vitamins and minerals are thought to curtail the appetite and improve weight loss efforts. As well, juice from the Fig is potent anti-bacterial in some test tube studies. There is some anecdotal research from Tokyo that also suggest that the chemical derivative of benzaldehyde contained in figs may be highly effective in shrinking tumors.
Grapefruits are a powerful source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid. The Vitamin C is a well known anti-oxidant and immune booster, and beta-carotene helps prevent premature aging. Folic acid works to maintain the integrity of the DNA within the nucleus of our cells. All of these are very important in maintaining youth and preventing disease. Grapefruits, like other citrus fruits contain a compound called monoterpenes. This compound is believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping cancer causing agents out of the body. Some studies even show that grapefruit may inhibit the growth and multiplication of breast cancer cells.
Red grapes contain bioflavanoids and antioxidants that work against cellular aging and help prevent cancer. They are a source of resveratrol which are thought to inhibit enzymes that can stimulate cancer cell growth and suppress the immune response that keeps the cells in check. As well, red grapes contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes needed by cancer cells to proliferate. Ellagic acid thought to slow and even stop the growth of tumors.
The green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale contain numerous vitamins and minerals including selenium which not only fights free radicals but also protects against the sun’s damaging UV rays. Kale also promotes the production of red blood cells, and lowers blood pressure. Broccoli and kale also specifically also contain sulphurane which have been shown to activate certain enzymes that deactivate free radicals and carcinogens in certain cancers like colon and rectal.
Dark chocolate in particular is a wonderful anti-aging food that lowers blood pressure, LDL (or bad) cholesterol, and promotes good feelings through the release of endorphins and tryptans. Chocolates contain flavanoids which are also powerful anti-oxidants that help fight free radicals that cause cellular damage. IN addition, the flavanoids in dark chocolate protect the body from damage of the sun’s UV rays. So take in a square or two of 70% or greater dark chocolate as a daily treat. However, remember to enjoy in moderation. Anything in excess can be harmful.
The omega 3’s in fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are essential for keeping the cells young, boosting the immune system and maintaining cognitive function. The Omega’s promote healthy cardiac functions by lowering cholesterol levels, and also decreasing inflammation. Omega 3’s also boost the immune system and the fatty acids are essential in maintaining integrity of the neurons (brain cells) which promote cognitive longevity.
While technically not a food, water is one of the most important food sources that maintains proper cell integrity and function in all of the organs. Our bodies are greater than 90% water, therefore it is only natural that it would be the most important anti-aging nutrient to take in on a daily basis. Adequate hydration keeps the skin soft and elastic, and helps the organs and cells function like the well oiled machine it is meant to be. Water helps to maintain lubrication of the joints, tendons, and ligaments. Adequate hydration ensures that your kidneys are properly filtering out toxins that can cause inflammation and damage to the cells in the organs and tissues. There are a plethora more benefits of water, and it is recommended that you consume 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water each day to maintain optimal health and aging.
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