Why are the healthiest super foods and cooking oils so often recommended to prevent inflammation or keep the blood from becoming too sticky? In the Sacramento and Davis regional area, the University of California, Davis is studying pomegranate juice and it’s health benefits for the heart, blood, and cardiovascular system. See the PDF file article, “Antioxidant Activity of Pomegranate Juice and Its Relationship with Phenolic Composition and Processing.” The reason why pomegranates or pomegranate extract and juice is listed as a super food is that pomegranates may slow artery hardening and reduce cholesterol levels. See the February, 2007 Life Extension Magazine article, “Pomegranate Reverses Atherosclerosis and Slows the Progression of Prostate Cancer.”
Pomegranate is called a superfood because it enhances nitric oxide, improves endothelial function, and protects cardiovascular health by augmenting nitric oxide, which supports the functioning of endothelial cells that line the arterial walls. Nitric oxide signals vascular smooth muscle to relax, thereby increasing blood flow through arteries and veins.
Nitric oxide reduces injury to the vessel walls, which also helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis, according to the study, “Nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the vascular system: an overview,” Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 1999 Dec;34(6):879-86. Authors are Ignarro LJ, Cirino G, Casini A, Napoli C. J.
Cooking Oils As Superfoods
When it comes to cooking oils, the healthiest oils you’d choose would give you a balance of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. You need to avoid too much omega 6 fatty acids and emphasize a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. To do this, you’d avoid peanut butter and replace the corn and soybean oil in your house with olive oil, macademia nut oil, or walnut oil. Low-fat snacks usually have more sugar, salt, and calories. You need some types of fat in your diet so you can absorb carotenoids, including beta carotene and lycopene. So to absorb the carotenoids, don’t eat your salad with fat-free dressing.
One oil highest in medium-chain saturated fat is coconut oil. When you compare lard (pork fat) to butter, did you know that pork fat (lard) contains fewer saturated fats than butter and more monosaturated fats than butter? But butter contains fewer omega 6 fatty acids than lard. That grape seed oil you may be consuming in the various grape seed oil salad dressings is very high in omega 6 fatty acids. And you don’t want to get too many of omega 6 oils and fats in your diet, just a healthy balance. So you may want to stick with monosaturated oils such as olive oil, macademia nut oil or avocado oil.
Walnut oil is too high in omega 6 oils, so eat the entire walnut or grind it up in a smoothie to get the benefits of walnuts, the whole nut, not only the extracted oil. Safflower oil also is too high in omega 6 oils as is wheat germ oil. Sunflower oil, (oleic) is high in monounsaturated oils. Extra virgin olive oil has been used for centuries to help lower cholesterol and unheated is healthy and high in monounsaturated oils.
What Super Foods are Healthiest?
Eat a handful not a can full of walnuts. These nuts can thin your blood. You can look up the study where 20 men and women ate 8 to 13 walnuts a day to improve blood flow by making your arteries more elastic. This information appears on page 139 of the book, Super Foods for Seniors, by the editors of FC&A Medical Publishing. Unfortunately, the chapters on super foods mention the results of studies but never include footnotes giving the name of the study or where it can be read.
Other studies included in this book of super foods include wild-caught salmon, oranges, asparagus as a way to get folate (one of the B vitamins), and other foods such as avocados, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bananas, blueberries, brown rice, carrots, cranberries, pomegranate juice, and olive oil–all as super foods.
The book also lists the vitamin C content of sweet red peppers, which are high in vitamin C with 226 mg for one medium sweet red bell pepper. But if you feel arthritis pain after eating nightshade vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, you can get your vitamin C from other fruits or vegetables.
Next highest on the list is the papaya, with 188 mg of vitamin C. Other foods mentioned that you’d eat for their vitamin C content include cranberry juice, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, green pepper, orange juice, kiwi fruit, or a whole orange. Orange juice, one cup contains 82 mg of vitamin C, but eating the whole orange for the fiber gives you only 70 mg of vitamin C, assuming the one orange is medium size and the orange juice is one eight-ounce cup.
Why olive oil is particularly healthy above many other oils is that extra virgin olive oil has a compound called oleocanthal. This chemical in olive oil is similar to ibuprofen. The compound, oleocanthal gives the same pungent sensation in your throat as ibuprofen and also has the same ability to reduce inflammation in your body as ibuprofen. The reason to drink a bit of olive oil is to cut inflammation in your body.
In some countries, people use extra virgin olive oil as a mouthwash after flossing their teeth. They rinse and swish with olive oil, spit it out (not in the sink) and then after a half hour of letting the olive oil get rid of some of the inflammation on their gums and teeth, finally brush their teeth at the end of the day. You can swish with olive oil, coconut oil, or sesame seed oil. The idea is to cut inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil has a robust, fruity flavor to drizzle over salads or eggs.
Other super foods used for their ability to cut inflammation or in some cases to thin the blood, include decaf green tea. It’s the theanine, an amino acid in green tea that makes blood less sticky or viscous. People who consume the most vegetables, fruits, and green tea have a good chance of avoiding blood clots, unless they have a genetic variation that perhaps makes them throw clots as a possible reaction to adaptation to cereal grains. That is open to further study and between you and your health care team.
As for dried fruits which are high in sugar, figs have a lot of fiber, potassium, and magnesium and in moderation are considered a healthy super food. What may be helpful is to emphasize nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits for their antioxidant values. But please eat portions in moderation so you don’t get too many high blood sugar/glucose spikes from eating too much fruit at one sitting. As far as folate, spinach helps, and spinach also contains magnesium.
One cup of spinach supplies you with a healthy amount of magnesium. And pomegranate juice helps improve blood flow in some people, according to a University of California study. According another study, in this case a University of California, Davis study, “Antioxidant Activity of Pomegranate Juice and Its Relationship with Phenolic Composition and Processing,” epidemiological studies at UC Davis show that consumption of fruits and vegetables with high phenolic content correlate with reduced cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases and cancer mortality (Hertog et al., 1997a,b).
Phenolic compounds may produce their beneficial effects by scavenging free radicals. In the past few years there has been an increasing interest in determining relevant dietary sources of antioxidant phenolics. Thus, red fruit juices such as grape and different berry juices have received attention due to their antioxidant activity.
Pomegranate juice has become more popular because of the attribution of important biological actions (Lansky et al., 1998). Thus, the antioxidant and antitumoral activity of pomegranate bark tannins (punicacortein) (Kashiwada et al., 1992; Su et al., 1988) and the antioxidant activity of the fermented pomegranate juice (Schubert et al., 1999) have been reported. However, detailed investigations of the phenolic compounds and the antioxidant activity of the juice have not yet been carried out.
Pomegranate bark tannins (punicacortein) (Kashiwada et al., 1992; Su et al., 1988) and the antioxidant activity of the fermented pomegranate juice (Schubert et al., 1999) have been reported. However, detailed investigations of the phenolic compounds and the antioxidant activity of the juice have not yet been carried out. Pomegranate juice is an important source of anthocyanins, and the 3-glucosides and 3,5-diglucosides of delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin have been reported (Du et al., 1975). So along with other fruits and vegetables, pomegranate eaten in moderation, is also called by many, a super food.
Fiber and Barley as Super Foods
The point is for health most people need enough fiber, about 15-35 grams of fiber daily. Men need more fiber than women. So perhaps some women need around 25 grams of fiber compared to 35 for some men to maintain weight and stay healthy. Fiber, in moderation, is also called a super food. But eat the fiber as part of the food. For example, red raspberries are high in fiber than strawberries. And apples provide good fiber, but are also high in fructose. So choose what you eat for fiber in moderation. The amount of fiber you eat is an individual issue.
Other studies report you might be able to slash your colon cancer risk by 40 percent by eating some barley. Your daily fiber intake may vary from 15 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Soluble fiber found in oat bran or barley may react with the organisms in your large intestine to prevent constipation and perhaps protect against colon cancer. Don’t use the white, pearled barley. Use the tan-colored lightly pearled barley that’s similar in color to brown rice.