No matter how the latest health trends change, some foods will always help prevent disease and keep us vital, says Ron Cotterel, M.D., M.S., a family medicine and integrative medicine doctor with the Sutter Medical Foundation.
“If you look at population studies, you’ll find that certain foods really do make a difference,” Dr. Cotterel says. “Why not get our medicine from food instead of paying someone to process it and separate it out?”
Superfoods are the powerhouses of the food chain, packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties that help protect against everything from cardiovascular disease and cancer to arthritis and even depression.
Seek out these healthful nutrients:
- Bioflavonoids — Plant pigments that produce yellow, red and blue colors in plants. Found in tea, citrus, blueberries, dark chocolate and wine, they are proven to help fight cancer, infection and inflammatory diseases.
- Lycopene — An antioxidant phytonutrient found in tomatoes and red grapefruit that is a helpful tool in preventing certain cancers, most notably prostate cancer.
- Polyphenols — A type of bioflavonoid that offers greater antioxidant protection than even vitamins C and E. They’re often found in fruits, vegetables and teas.
- Epigallocatechin gallate — A substance found in green tea that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have found it can help reduce cancer, increase sluggish metabolisms and reduce the inflammation that contributes to heart disease and possibly arthritis.
- Resveratrol — An anti-inflammatory agent found in the skin of grapes, particularly red and dark-skinned grapes.
- Omega-3 fatty acids — Provide powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are found in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring, as well as walnuts and flax seeds. Omega-3s have been proven to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and may also help prevent cancer, depression, asthma, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.