Thursday, August 11, 2011

Six Sensational Super Foods

Eat your way to living beauty.
Many of the veggies and fruits you already have in your fridge provide a whole foods pharmacy of phytochemicals, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. They also help prepare your body for daily cleansing and flush out toxins by supporting your liver—the grand central station which controls hormonal balance.

Here are of my favorites when it comes to eating your way to beautiful.

1. The Crucifers – cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli sprouts (½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw, about the size of a small fist)
Crucifers of all types contain vital phytonutrients such as indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which aid the liver in neutralizing chemicals and drugs. For extra sulforaphane, try a few servings of broccoli sprouts on your salads. They are available in most supermarkets and add a zesty, peppery kick to those fresh green leaves. Consuming at least two daily crucifers also helps to prevent those telltale under eye circles and vertical lines between your brows—all red flags of a tired and toxic liver.

2. Green Leafy Vegetables and Herbs – parsley, arugula, kale, watercress, chard, cilantro, beet greens, collards, escarole, dandelion greens, mustard greens (1/2 cup cooked or raw)
The bitter taste of greens like arugula, chard, kale, and escarole stimulates digestive secretions. In Asian medicine, bitter-tasting foods are considered to be especially healthy for the liver. Chlorophyll rich greens like kale and parsley are rich in magnesium, which bears the same relationship to the chlorophyll molecule as iron to hemoglobin. As a powerful alkalizer and blood purifier, chlorophyll really helps put a rosy glow on your complexion, even without blush.

Cilantro is a savory herb known in alternative medicine circles for its heavy-metal chelating properties. Use cilantro instead of basil for homemade pesto. Blend about 2 cups of cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp of seaweed gomasio, 1/4 cup of toasted walnuts, and 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Pulse the cilantro in a food processor until well chopped and then add the garlic, seaweed gomasio, and walnuts. Mix in the olive oil last to make a thick and yummy paste. A couple of teaspoons per day are great on crucifers and leafy greens.

3. Citrus – 1 orange or the juice of ½ of a lemon or lime
Oranges, lemons, and limes are full of vitamin C, perhaps the most liver-loving vitamin of them all. Vitamin C stimulates the production of glutathione—the liver’s premier antioxidant—which is crucial for a successful progression through the two-phase detox process. It also stimulates fresh collagen production for tight and youthful skin.

4. Sulfur-Rich Foods – garlic (at least one clove, minced), onions (1/2 cup cooked), eggs (2), daikon radish (1/4 cup sliced, either raw or cooked)
The daikon radish is really special—it aids in the digestion and metabolism of fats. That’s why in Asian cuisine, you’re always served a bit of daikon radish. With its crisp texture and somewhat pungent taste, it acts as a diuretic and decongestant.

Eggs are rich in the beautifying sulfur-bearing amino acids. Your liver needs these aminos (also found in whey) to successfully complete phase 2 of its detox process. And eggs offer the lecithin your liver needs to thin out bile and keep cholesterol in balance. Eat about two egg yolks a day (no jokes, just the yolks) because the yolks are so high in lutein and zeaxanthin—the two key carotenoids found in the eye to keep them clear and bright. They’re terrific for preventing cataracts and Alzheimer’s. (I think that there is such an increase in Alzheimer’s because egg consumption over the past two decades has plummeted so drastically.)

5. Liver Healers – artichoke (1 small artichoke or 4 cooked artichoke hearts), asparagus (1/2 cup cooked), beets (1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw), celery (2 medium stalks), dandelion root tea (1 to 2 cups), whey (1 to 2 scoops)

Artichokes, especially the hearts, contain powerful antioxidants known as flavonoids that protect the liver’s cells and tissues—they’re essential in fortifying cell membranes to renew and regenerate the integrity of your skin. Artichokes are also good for the secretion of bile, which helps the body better digest and assimilate fats. The artichoke is a close relative of milk thistle—queen of the liver protectors—which offers major defense against free radicals and is especially good for people with compromised immunity or alcohol-related liver problems.

6. GI Movers – chia seeds (1 to 2 tablespoons), milled or ground flaxseeds (2 to 3 tablespoons), carrot (1 small raw), apple (1 small raw with skin), pear (1 small raw with skin), berries (1 cup)
Flaxseeds are a two-for-one fiber source because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber as well as lignans—estrogen-modulating substances that have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Because of their effect on estrogen, flaxseeds are especially helpful for women suffering from PMS, perimenopause, and menopausal challenges, helping to fortify the skin’s integrity and strengthen bones.

Fiber-high berries (especially blueberries) have another perk—they’re the premier memory food because they help the neurons in your brain communicate with each other more effectively. So, bring on the blues for a beautiful memory.

Eating these foods on a daily basis will help to bring out your best looks, and leave you looking as good on the outside and you’ll feel on the inside.

-Edge On Health, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman