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  • Writer's pictureDr. Teresa Rispoli

Enjoy The Healing Power of Food – The Vitality Diet

Would you rather add years to your life or life to your years? Smart food choices may help you do both. Your dietary choices play a role in free-radical damage (which alters the way cells function), inflammation, and gut bacteria. And your diet can reverse or prevent conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, respiratory disorders, cognitive decline, and infection, to name a few.

So yes making healthy dietary choices can have healthy outcomes. The right foods can make you feel healthier and more energetic, and a side effect is weight loss if you are overweight. These foods can taste great too. These 6 Superfoods are delicious (chocolate, anyone?) and are worth squeezing into your diet.

Diet can play a major role in targeting the biology of aging to delay the onset of age-related diseases and extend the number of healthy, active, productive years.  Researchers suggest that incorporating certain foods into your diet may give you an extra boost.

Here Are Six Healthy Foods to Consider

1. Nuts

According to studies, nuts may be tiny packages of healthy goodness, loaded with protein and healthy nutrients. Nuts are high in monosaturated fat, which helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Their anti-oxidants may also keep blood vessels supple (hardened arteries are a sign of heart disease) and improve your body’s use of insulin.

Don’t Go TOO Nuts – Nut’s have about 160 to 200 calories per ounce, so do not over eat them. A handful is enough. But get this, studies show frequent nut eaters weighed less than those who abstained.

2. Hot Peppers

If you can tolerate them, chilies are good for your heart and waistline. A large study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that people who ate hot chili peppers regularly were 13 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 19-year period compared with those who didn’t.

Capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat, may also help improve blood flow, boost metabolism, and protect against bacteria that have been linked with inflammation and diseases. “Inflammation is the nail in the coffin of conditions like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and more. Many plant foods have phytochemicals that reduce the inflammatory response at the cellular level so” think green.”

In addition to green and red chilies, cayenne, jalapeno, and tobacco peppers all contain high levels of capsaicin. Sweet peppers however, have less of that compound.

3. Whole Grains

Despite carbs’ bad reputation in many circles, research shows whole grains (instead of refined carbs like white bread and white rice) reduce your risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, infectious disease, and respiratory problems. A review of 45 studies found that people who ate 1-2 servings daily of grains were far less likely to have the above conditions or die from any cause during the study period. They are a power house of nutrients like antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, and polyphenols and help reduce the risk of heart disease.

4. Beans

Beans are not only a versatile and affordable staple, they’re also rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant polyphenols that have protective benefits, especially for your heart. A large research review in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating four half-cup servings of beans, peas, lentils, or tofu per week was linked to a 14 percent decrease in the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (when arteries of the heart become blocked).

Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, too, which helps lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

5. Fish

Fatty fish like salmon and sea bass are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and may help protect the heart and brain. Research has shown a significant 33 percent drop in the risk of sudden heart attack death in people who ate two or more servings per week. Some preliminary research shows that people with cognitive impairment who supplemented their diet with EPA and DHA-omega-3 fatty acids had less decline over time. I recommend eating 8 ounces per week of wild caught or sustainably farmed, low mercury fish, such as Atlantic mackerel, Pacific sardines, fresh water (farmed) coho salmon, and wild-caught salmon, and Alaskan black cod.

6. Chocolate

A study of nearly 21,000 adults published in the journal Heart found that those who ate ½ to 3 ½ ounces daily had 25 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and were 23 percent less likely to have a stroke over an 11 year period. The flavonoids in chocolate may aid blood vessel function, which can lower blood pressure and clotting. It’s high in calories, sugar, and fat, though, so eat limited amounts. Dark chocolate has more flavonoids and less sugar than mild chocolate

Four Foods Than Can Harm Your Health – Research has linked these foods to heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.

1. Charred Meat

Grilled or well done meat has compounds associated with an increased risk of colon, pancreatic, stomach, and other cancers.

2. Processed Meats

Salami, pepperoni, ham, and other cured meats may predispose you to esophageal, kidney, prostate, and stomach cancer.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Diets high in added sugars (candy, some cereals, pastries, sodas) and refined carbohydrates that have been stripped of their important nutrients (white flour and white rice, for example) may hike the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, especially in those who are already overweight.

4. Prepackaged Meals

These food products may be convenient, but they are often extremely high in sodium and sugar. That has been linked to a higher risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.

It is always best to stick with fresh produce and whole foods.

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Dr. Teresa Rispoli,
PhD., ND, LAc.

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