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Chemicals in Foods May Help Extend Life

Chemicals in Foods May Help Extend Life

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingVitamins and minerals are not the only nutrients you should consider in choosing what to eat; the chemicals in certain foods that can help extend your life.

Are you counting carbs or counting fat grams when you sit down to a meal? Well, you may want to count superfoods instead.

Research now shows some foods, including tomatoes, onions, garlic and Olive oil, are among the superfoods. Superfoods are packed with powerful chemicals that may offer your body great protection against chronic disease.

Natalie Ledesma: “Including cancer, obesity, heart disease. You have vibrantly colored yellow, orange and green, all giving you different types of phytochemicals.”

Natalie Ledesma is registered dietician at UCSF. She says compounds found in superfoods - called phytyochemicals - can reduce the risk of cancer, boost the immune system, even protect the heart.

She showed us what everyone should try to eat each week for optimal Health. Her shopping list includes herbs --dark green ones like rosemary and thyme, and any intensely colored spice like tumeric or red pepper. She says both of those have anti-inflammatory properties. Tumeric may reduce the risk of leukemia, skin and liver cancers. Hot peppers may reduce the risk of colon, gastric and rectal cancers.

Also on the list are green veggies, but not just any green veggie.

Natalie: “Brussel sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family that has significant anti-cancer properties, and that family also has a very favorable effect on hormone metabolism.

Other cruciferous veggies include cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. And don't forget the tomato.

Natalie: “It is probably the best source of lycopene which is one of the phytochemicals that has shown significant anticancer properties, especially with prostate, and potentially lung and breast cancer as well.”

As for fruit, citrus contains vitamin c, limonoids and phenols, which inactivate cancer cells and strengthen the immune system. Cantaloupes, mangos, and carrots contain cancer fighting carotenoids.

And berries are bursting with flavonoids and ellagic acid -- antioxidants that protect against cancer, ulcers and viruses.

Natalie recommends organic.

Natalie: “Organic fruits and veggies have shown only to have lower pesticide toxicities, and lower pesticide levels, but also now have been shown to have higher phytochemical content.”

Finally, don't forget fatty fish or flaxseed. Both are excellent sources of omega three fatty acids that inhibit the growth of cancer cells and boost the immune system. There’s also olive oil, which may reduce breast, prostate or colon cancer, and soy.

Natalie: “Soy has protective effects for heart disease as well as osteoporosis, potentially.”

And finally, onions, garlic and shallots. They may protect the heart, fight cancer, and help with asthma.

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