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Fruits: As well as being low in fat and rich source of vitamins and fibre, fruits contain many different phytochemicals which are known to help fight cancer and heart disease. Although a variety of fruits should be consumed, red and orange fruits such as tomatoes, strawberries, apricots, red apples etc, as well as citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and lime, are among the healthiest choices. The recommended intake of fruits is approx 2 servings per day.
Vegetables: Diets high in vegetables can significantly defend against certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. Vegetables are extremely rich sources of phytochemicals, many of which have been shown to be able to inhibit cancer, macular degeneration and other dietary related diseases. A variety of vegetables should be consumed, most importantly, dark green leafy vegetables, orange and red vegetables, and allum vegetables such as garlic and onion.
Soy and other Legumes: Legumes are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and non-animal protein. The soluble fibres in legumes give them a very low G.I which slows the release of sugar into the blood which may help to prevent blood sugar irregularities such as Type II Diabetes. Soluble fibres also inhibit cholesterol absorption. In particular, soy foods contain phytoestrogens which can protect against heart disease and may defend against certain cancers.
Whole grains: Whole grain foods such as wholemeal bread, oats, wheat bran and flaxseeds, supply complex carbohydrates but have a low G.I., consequently may defend against obesity and Type II Diabetes. They are rich in both soluble and non-soluble fibre which may defend against heart disease and cancers of the digestive tract. They are also one of the richest sources of minerals and B vitamins.
Fish: Other than being an excellent source of protein, minerals such as Selenium and Vitamin D, Fish and other seafood contain the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA which are known to lower triglycerides and protect against heart attacks and ischemic stroke. Fish may also protect against cognitive decline and improve I.Q.
Nuts: Nuts are very rich sources of minerals such as selenium as well as vitamin E. Although it is not known precisely which fatty acids are responsible, nuts such as walnuts and almonds have been shown to be able to decrease LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease.
Olive Oil: Diets rich in olive oil have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and perhaps breast cancer. Even though Olive oil is very high in fat, it is rich in “good fats” such as the monounsaturated Oleic acid, which is known to be able to favorably effect cholesterol levels. Extra-virgin olive oil also contains potent antioxidants and vitamin E.
Yoghurt: Other than being an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, yoghurt contains beneficial lactobacillus bacteria, which can colonize the gut and defend against harmful bacteria which may cause a variety of different health problems; particularly immunological complications.
Green Tea: There is an abundance of laboratory studies which have shown that green tea catechins can protect against a wide variety of cancers both in cell cultures and in animals. Some human studies have found that people who consume green tea have lower rates of cancer, however this evidence is not conclusive. Green tea may also defend against heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
Red Wine: Although excessive alcohol consumption is extremely harmful, many studies have shown that people who drink 1-2 glasses of red wine per day have lower rates of heart disease, and generally live longer. Animal experiments have shown that red wine can prevent atherosclerosis. This beneficial effect comes from both small amounts of alcohol as well as very potent antioxidant phytochemicals such as resveratrol.