Thursday, December 24, 2009

Healthiest Foods: Vegetables

Quercetin is one of the most powerful flavonoids (natural plant antioxidants). Studies show it helps protect against cancer. A cup of chopped onions has 61 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber.

Artichokes contain silymarin which is an antioxidant. This antioxidant helps prevent skin cancer. Artichokes also contain fiber which helps control cholesterol. One regular sized artichoke has 60 calories, 0 fat and 7 grams of fiber.

Gingerols may help reduce queasiness and other compounds may help fight off migraines and arthritis pain by blocking inflammation-causing prostaglandins. A teaspoon of fresh ginger root has only 1 calorie, 0 fat and 0 fiber.

Broccoli contains Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane which help protect against breast cancer. Broccoli also has lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene. One cup of chopped broccoli has 25 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Don't overcook broccoli - instead, microwave or steam lightly to preserve phytonutrients. Squeeze fresh lemon on top for a zesty and taste, added nutrients, and vitamin C.

Spinach has Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help fend off macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in older people. Plus, studies show this green veggie may help reverse some signs of aging. One cup has 7 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. You can just add raw leaves to a salad.

Squash (Butternut, Pumpkin, Acorn)
Winter squash contains large amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which may help protect against endometrial cancer. One cup of cooked squash has 80 calories, 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of fiber. You can cut one in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake or microwave until soft. Dust with cinnamon to add flavor.

The sulfur compounds that give garlic its pungent flavor can also lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), lower blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of stomach and colon cancer. A clove has 4 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. If you bake a whole head for 15 to 20 minutes until soft, you can spread it on bread instead of butter.

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