Nature's Most Perfect Foods
With inviting names like Honey Crisp, Red Delicious, Ambrosia, Jazz and Granny Smith, you might already know that the apple is one of nature's most perfect foods. But the other nutritionally superior foods Mother Nature offers might surprise you: Haas avocados and sunflower seeds.
With its rough, greenish-brown peel Haas avocados may not look very enticing, but they are packed with rich nutrients. According to Cynthia Harington, a nationally-recognized nutritionist, avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol and protect against breast cancer. Moreover, they are an outstanding source of potassium, a mineral that helps to regulate blood pressure. They are also an excellent source of folate, a nutrient important for heart health.
Don't know how to prepare avocado? First, make sure the avocado gives slightly when pressed. Simply cut it in half lengthwise, then gently pull the two halves apart, and scoop out the firm green flesh. Try making guacamole (see a recipe at bborganicexpress.com) to serve with chips or arrange slices of avocado on a bed of lettuce along with your favorite mixed vegetables.
Bright yellow sunflowers standing tall like sentries are always an uplifting sight, but their seeds often
go unappreciated. A health-promoting snack, a handful of sunflower seeds can provide vitamin E,
magnesium (necessary for healthy bones and energy production) and selenium (an important trace
mineral we all need).
Cynthia Harington explained, "Vitamin E is the body's primary fat-soluble antioxidant and benefits us by neutralizing free radicals that could otherwise damage our cell membranes, brain cells and cholesterol. The anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin E can include reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease. They can even help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause."
Turns out that the old adage about eating "an apple a day" was really good advice! A surprising member of the rose family, apples combine key nutrients differently from all other fruits, making them special indeed. Full of phytonutrients which function as antioxidants, they help protect our cardiovascular system from damage. What's more, apples are a great source of fiber. Research has shown that fiber can help keep LDL cholesterol levels under control.
Though the studies in reducing cancer risk are not as prevalent as those in heart health, apples have been shown to be beneficial in association with lung cancer. There is good reason to believe apples may also be helpful in reducing the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer.
There were no chemical fertilizers in Paradise, and you will do yourself and your family a big favor when you buy organic. Buying nutritious, delicious organic fruits and vegetables helps keep potentially dangerous chemicals out of our bodies. Moreover, organic farming helps protect the environment.
Don't forget to include one or more of this powerhouse trio next time you are planning for lunch boxes, meals, or a picnic anywhere in Mother Nature's magnificent realm!
Cynthia Harington, a nationally recognized nutritionist, is founder of Rose Quest Nutrition Centre with offices in Chicago and Mishawaka, Indiana. She works directly with clients seeking improved quality of life through proper eating.