Many diseases and health problems are preventable with proper nutrition. There is
compelling evidence that what we eat has a profound effect on our well-being. Particular
foods have particular effects on the body which is designed to run on nutrients from
foods that we consume to function optimally. If it can’t get the chemicals that it
needs to function properly or heal from food, it becomes out of balance. In fact,
using food for healing has a long tradition dating back to 400 B.C.
Top Ten Healing Foods of the Decade
By Patricia Fitzgerald**
The healing properties of food have been reported by cultures worldwide throughout
history. However, the past decade has presented an explosion of clinical research
to show specifically what health benefits individual foods can offer, identifying
the various nutrients and phytochemicals associated with these benefits.
Many fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed whole foods have properties that can benefit
our health. Studies in the past decade have taken nutritional research beyond protein,
carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Chemicals in the plants called phytochemicals
have been a specific focus in the past decade, offering benefits such as cancer prevention,
cholesterol reduction, and hormone regulation, to name a few.
There is truly a cornucopia of nutritional benefits that have been discovered. Here
are a few "superfoods" that have received a lot of press in the past decade for their
research-supported health benefits:
HONEY. Honey has been revered throughout the ages for its healing properties. Some
outstanding research has shown anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. Honey is being
explored further for its role in digestive health as well as wound healing. The research
on honey at the University of Waikatob is particularly impressive
BLUEBERRIES. Among the fruits with the highest level of antioxidants, blueberries
have been linked to lowering cholesterol, reducing diabetes risk, slowing the aging
process, improving motor skills and supporting urinary and vision health. The compound,
anthocynanin, gives blueberries their color and may be the main component of its
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory propertie
SALMON. Low in calories and saturated fat, and rich in protein and omega-3 fatty
acids, salmon has certainly received a lot of press this past decade. Research showing
anti-inflammatory and cancer prevention properties are impressive. Its role in diabetes
and Alzheimer’s prevention as well as its overwhelming cardiovascular benefits makes
this fish a winner in every category. Look for wild salmon vs. farmed to avoid contaminants
such as PCBs.
GREEN TEA. Study after study seems to support the benefits of including green tea
in your daily life. Studies are pointing towards its cancer risk reducing properties,
its potential in decreasing incidence of stroke and heart disease, and its role in
reducing inflammation associated with several types of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).
More recent research is indicating that green tea may help prevent type two diabetes
BROCCOLI. Loaded with vitamins such as A, B-6, folic acid, and K and minerals such
as calcium and potassium, broccoli is continuing to earn top honors as a nutritional
superstar. Its unique claim to fame comes from its cancer-fighting properties, activated
by phytochemicals indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.
WALNUTS. Exceptionally rich in heart-healthy omega-3, walnuts made history in 2004
when they became the first food that the FDA allowed to make a qualified health claim:
“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 oz of walnuts per day,
as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased
caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
SPICES. Turmeric, (anti-inflammatory and may reduce cancer risk and slow the progression
of Alzheimer’s), cinnamon (studies show it can help lower cholesterol and stabilize
blood sugar), and ginger (supports digestive health, is anti-inflammatory, and looks
promising for cancer prevention) were stars of the decade, reminding us that flavoring
our foods beyond salt and pepper can add great taste as well as outstanding health
POMEGRANATE. The pomegranate has been long revered as a symbol of fertility and abundance.
In modern times, the focus has shifted to its remarkable health benefits. Rich in
antioxidants, the pomegranate research has shown its promise in reducing heart disease
risk, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and reducing the risk of certain types
DARK CHOCOLATE. This decade brought us the guilt-reducing research showing us how
chocolate, yes, chocolate, could actually be considered a health food. Benefits to
our cardiovascular system and our moods have been researched, as well as cancer-protective
properties and mood-enhancing effects.
YOGURT. In addition to protein, vitamins such as B-2 and B-12, minerals such as calcium
and magnesium, yogurt consumers also enjoy the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics
are known as the “good bacteria” that can reside in the intestines, offering immune
and digestive support. Research has shown improved vaginal health among women consuming
yogurt, and the cholesterol-lowering properties of yogurt look promising. Plain yogurt
with active cultures is recommended.
*Patricia Fitzgerald is a licensed acupuncturist, certified clinical nutritionist,
and a homeopath. She has a Master’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a
Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine. She is the founder and Medical Director of the
Santa Monica Wellness Center