The Richmond Register

February 3, 2013

Five fabulous foods for your diet

Dr. Jack on Health and Fitness

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — If you haven’t added these five superstar foods to your diet, then you’re missing out on some exceptional health benefits.

Berries are not only delicious but have active ingredients that help prevent heart attacks.

In one Harvard University study of 93,000 women who were followed for 18 years, those consuming the most berries were one third less likely to have a heart attack compared to those who ate the least.

Berries’ rich supply of deep purple anthocyanin pigments are powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that counteract oxidation and inflammation in our arteries.

Once thought to be unhealthy and fattening, avocados are making a comeback. Avocados are filled with heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats that lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and boost good (HDL) cholesterol. Avocados also contain fiber, vitamins B and E, and phytosterols, also known to lower cholesterol. They are one of the most potent antioxidant foods.

Lentils have many of the nutritious qualities of their bean cousins, including fiber, B-vitamins, proteins, minerals and especially folate. They also possess powerful antioxidant polyphenols. Lentils are even superior to other bean types in that they cook quickly and cause less gas.

Black rice is a whole grain that packs a tremendous nutritional wallop. Black rice is loaded with fiber, minerals and vitamins and has even more of the deep purple anthocyanin pigments than berries. Because the pigments are so concentrated, the grains appear black. Their antioxidant properties are through the roof.

Winter squash comes in a spectacular variety of colors, shapes and sizes, all of which are exceptionally nutritious. One serving (1/2 cup) provides over 100 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin A. It also contains fiber, vitamins C and B, and minerals, all in less than 40 calories per serving. Winter squash is a healthy alternative to the “white hazards,” the white flour starches like white rice, bread, and pasta.