The Top 10 Healthy Foods

February 1, 2013 — 1 Comment

The Top 10 Healthy Foods list was produced by Medical News Today and is reproduced with their permission. I have included the Glycemic Index for each food.

1)  Apples

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“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is not just an old expression that rhymes

Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, which combat free radicals, damaging substances generated in the body that cause undesirable changes and are involved in the aging process and some diseases.

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed.

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent.

Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast.. The National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

The Glycemic Index assigns a value to carbohydrate-containing foods based on their effects  on the blood glucose levels of  human test subjects. Foods that rank high on a scale of one to 100 can raise  blood sugar quickly and significantly. Foods that rank low on the scale have a  slower, less marked effect on blood sugar.

The Glycemic Index values for the apples range from 28 to 44. The type of apple, the  ripeness of the fruit and other factors may affect its GI value. On average, this fruit falls into the  lower end of the GI.

2) Almonds

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Almonds have more fiber than any other tree nut

Almonds are rich in nutrients, including iron, calcium, vitamin E, fiber, riboflavin, and magnesium.  A scientific review published in Nutrition Reviews found that almonds as a food may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The authors wrote: “The message that almonds, in and of themselves, are a heart-healthy snack should be emphasized to consumers. Moreover, when almonds are incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet, the benefits are even greater.”

The fatty acid profile of almonds, which is made up of 91-94% unsaturated fatty acids, may partly explain why almonds help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Almonds also have the highest fiber content of any tree nut.

A serving of almonds contain 13 g of unsaturated fat, 6 g of protein  and 3 g of fiber. Almonds contain few carbs, with only 6 carbs per 1 oz. serving, according the Almond Board of California.

Glycemic Index. Eating almonds reduces the glycemic index (GI) of a meal. Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. (Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Journal of Nutrition).

3) Broccoli

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Boiling broccoli for too long can destroy much of its vital nutrients

Broccoli is rich in fiber, folate, potassium, calcium and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds which reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Broccoli also contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant, as well as vitamin C.

If the enzyme myrosinase is not destroyed during cooking, broccoli can also reduce the risk of developing cancer. The best way to cook broccoli and to preserve the myrosinase is to steam the vegetable lightly – if it is overcooked, and the vegetable’s beneficial effects can be seriously undermined, researchers from the University of Illinois wrote in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition and Cancer.

The researchers said that adding broccoli to a meal can often double its anticancer properties.

Another ingredient, sulforphane, which exists in broccoli, is also said to have anti-cancer as well as anti-inflammatory qualities. However, overcooking can destroy most of the benefits.

Glycemic index. Broccoli has a glycemic index rating of 15, making it quite low and not likely  to raise blood  sugar levels too fast.

4) Blueberries

Blueberries may help in controlling body weight

Blueberries may help in controlling body weight

Blueberries are rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber.
According to a study carried out at Harvard Medical School, elderly people who eat plenty of blueberries (and strawberries) are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline, compared to other people of their age who do not.
Blueberries were found in another study carried out by scientists at Texas Woman’s University, to help in curbing. Plant polyphenols, which are abundant in blueberries, have been shown to reduce the development of fat cells (adipogenesis), while inducing the breakdown of lipids and fat (lipolysis).

Regular blueberry consumption can reduce the risk of suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10%, because of the berry’s bioactive compounds, anthocyanins, scientists from East Anglia University, England, and Harvard University, USA reported in the American Journal of Nutrition.

Blueberry consumption has also been associated with a lower risk of artery hardening, and/or intestinal diseases. The fruit has also been linked to stronger bones in animal studies.

Glycemic index. Blueberries have a GI value of 53. You can include blueberries in your diet to  help regulate your blood sugar levels as they fall into the low GI category. Try  adding a handful of washed, raw berries to fruit salads, muesli, porridge or  cereal.

5) Oily fish

Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies. These types of fish have oil in their tissues and around the gut.

Their lean fillets contain up to 30% oil, specifically, omega-3 fatty acids. These oils are known to provide benefits for the heart, as well as the nervous system. Oily fish are also known to provide benefits for patients with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis

Most oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna contain protein, zinc, selenium, vitamins A and D, and some B   vitamins.

Scientists at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that prostate cancer progression was significantly slowed when patients went on a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements.

6) Leafy green vegetables

Boiling spinach can significantly reduce its levels of good nutrients.

Boiling spinach can significantly reduce its levels of good nutrients.

Studies have shown that a high intake of dark-leafy vegetables, such as spinach or cabbage may significantly lower a person’s risk of developing diabetes type 2. Researchers from Leicester University, England, said that the impact of dark green vegetables on human health should be investigated further, after they gathered data from six studies.

Spinach, for example,  is very rich in antioxidants, especially when uncooked, steamed or very lightly boiled. It is a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, as well as selenium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, copper, folic acid, potassium, calcium, manganese, betaine, and iron.

Dark-green vegetables are particularly good foods for burning fat. They include  artichokes, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, chard, lettuce, mustard greens,  romaine lettuce, spinach and watercress.

Glycemic index. Most vegetables have a low GI, with only a few exceptions. If you are aiming to  lower your dietary GI, you can include an abundance of vegetables such as  carrots, eggplants, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce,  green  beans, bell  peppers, summer squash and cabbage. These vegetables will help you keep your  blood sugar levels more stable.

7) Sweet potatoes

Sweet potato roots are rich in fiber and several important nutrients

Sweet potato roots are rich in fiber and several important nutrients

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, beta carotene, complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin B6, as well as carotene (the pink, yellow ones)

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, USA, compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. The sweet potato ranked number one, when vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein and complex carbohydrates were considered.

Glycemic Index. The way you prepare sweet potatoes makes a difference in  their GI. The GI of a 150-g sweet potato, boiled with its skin for 30 minutes,  is 46. That number rises to 94 if the same sweet potato is baked for 45 minutes.  These dramatic differences come from the way the starches in sweet potatoes  gelatinize during cooking. Foods that turn viscous, or jelly-like, in your  digestive tract have a lower GI because the gelatinous substance slows the  release of the nutrients in the food. Baking your sweet potatoes instead of  boiling them changes the quality of their starches and transforms this root  vegetable from a moderate-GI food to a high GI-food.

8) Wheat germ

Wheat germ is the part of wheat that germinates to grow into a plant – the embryo of the seed. Germ, along with bran, is commonly a by-product of the milling; when cereals are refined, the germ and bran are often milled out.
Wheat germ is high in several vital nutrients, such as vitamin E, folic acid (folate), thiamin, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as fatty alcohols and essential fatty acids.

Glycemic index. The Mayo Clinic states that the glycemic index ranks foods according to how much  they raise your  blood sugar levels. A  food that raises your blood sugar levels significantly will have a higher  glycemic index than a food that does not raise your glycemic index as much.  Foods on the glycemic index are ranked on a scale of 1 to 100. The only foods on  the glycemic index are carbohydrate foods.

Wheat germ is a great source of dietary fiber. Foods  that have a high level of dietary fiber are low on the glycemic index. Wheat  germ is found in stone ground whole wheat. The wheat germ is very nutritious,  since it helps to build strong  bones and  regulate the blood. Whole wheat grains do not raise blood sugar levels as much  since they contain the whole wheat germ.

9) Avocados

Weight-for-weight, avocadoes have 35% more potassium than bananas.

Weight-for-weight, avocadoes have 35% more potassium than bananas.

Many people avoid avocados because of its high fat content; they believe that avoiding all fats leads to better health and easier-to-control body weight – this is a myth. Approximately 75% of the calories  in an avocado come from fat; mostly monosaturated fat. Avocados are also very rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin K and vitamin E.

  • Avocados also have a very high fiber content of 25% soluble and 75% insoluble fiber.
  • Studies have shown that regular avocado consumption lowers blood cholesterol levels.
  • Avocado extracts are currently being studied in the laboratory to see whether they might be useful for treating diabetes or hypertension.

Researchers from Ohio State University found that nutrients taken from avocados were able to stop oral cancer cells, and even destroy some of the pre-cancerous cells.

10) Oatmeal

Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.

Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.

Oatmeal is meal made from rolled or ground oats, or porridge made from ground or rolled oats. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the term “porridge” or “porridge oats” are common terms for the breakfast cereal that is usually cooked.
Interest in oatmeal has increased considerably over the last twenty years because of its health benefits.

Studies have shown that if you eat a bowl of oatmeal everyday your blood cholesterol levels, especially if they are too high, will drop, because of the cereal’s soluble fiber content..

Oatmeal is rich in complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fiber, which slow digestion down and stabilize levels of blood-glucose. Oatmeal porridge is very rich in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium.

Glycemic index. The Glycemic Index Foundation calls foods like oatmeal “slow carbs” because  their soluble fiber content slows the breakdown of carbohydrates during  digestion. Foods with a low GI help stabilize blood glucose levels, which keeps  your insulin production within a normal range and helps to prevent type 2  diabetes, according to the American  Diabetes Association, or ADA.  Slow carbs such as oatmeal provide a source of long-lasting energy. If you’re  trying to lose weight, oatmeal and other foods rich in soluble fiber will  satisfy your hunger and help you avoid overeating.

This list is reproduced with the permission of  Medical News Today.

One response to The Top 10 Healthy Foods


    great advice. See where I need to make a few changes.

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