Egg yolks contain tonnes of essential but hard-to-get nutrients. These include choline, which is linked with lower rates of breast cancer, and antioxidants that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. The Heart Foundation of Australia rates eggs as an essential part of a healthy eating plan.
White vegies, beans and nuts lack the vibrant colour linked with many disease-fighting antioxidants, but they offer other surprise benefits to help fend off ills. Despite their pallid palette, white superfoods such as turnips, cauliflower, onions and garlic are loaded with nutrients.
Just one cup of low-fat plain yoghurt provides about 70% of the daily requirement for riboflavin—more than half the amount in one cup of boiled spinach. Though not an antioxidant itself, riboflavin (a B vitamin) is critical in promoting antioxidant activity. Without it, the antioxidant glutathione— which our cells already contain—can’t destroy free radicals, which may lead to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions.
An apple a day could, in fact, keep the doctor away – but make sure you eat the peel as well. “The peel contains three- quarters of the fibre and most of the antioxidants in the apple,” says dietitian Wendy Davis, director of communications and consumer health for the US Apple Association. Cornell University food scientists who tested four varieties of apples found that the peels better inhibited the growth of cancer cells than the rest of the apple.
Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat in avocados, can help lower cholesterol. In one study, researchers compared the effects of two low-fat diets, which were identical except that one diet included avocados. Although both diets lowered levels of dangerous LDL (bad) cholesterol, the avocado-inclusive diet raised levels of healthy HDL cholesterol.
Like seafood and flaxseed, walnuts contain omega-3 fats, which help protect your heart and preserve brain health. Omega-3 fats are also a key component of the lubricating layer that keeps skin moist and supple.
Packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese and fibre, blueberries boost brain health, improving learning and keeping memory sharp. Look for berries that still have their silver-white surface bloom. Eat half a cup and you could double your daily intake of anti-ageing antioxidants.
Olive oil is chock-full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Extra-virgin oils contain the most flavour and antioxidants.
Leafy green vegetables
Experts have linked vitamin B6 deficiency to anxiety, stress and depression, and, as women, we need more B6 as we get older. “When B6 reaches your brain, it facilitates the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which makes you feel calm and happy,” says Hanjo Hellmann, PhD, a plant biologist from Washington State University in the US. “But if you have a B6 deficiency, your brain may be unable to make enough dopamine.” According to health organisation Nutrition Australia, good sources of B6 include fish, beef, chicken, leafy green vegetables, avocados and potatoes.
Green tea delivers a large number of catechins, powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from free-radical damage. Add extra flavour with fresh mint leaves, and green tea becomes a refreshing, therapeutic drink to sip throughout the day. When buying Japanese green teas, remember that the sencha variety contains more catechins.
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