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Food Facts

L - R

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Lutein

Lutein is an antioxidant carotenoid that may reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration - a leading cause of blindness among the elderly. Lutien may filter direct sunlight waves that may cause free radical damage to the eyes. Top sources of lutein include spinach, kale, chicory, collard greens, green peas, and lettuce. Keep in mind that cooking these foods releases lutein from the cell walls, making it more available to the body, while adding a bit of healthy fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) may  help enhance absorption.

   

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Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in the contraction and relaxation of muscles (e.g. helps regulate heart rhythm), the synthesis of protein and DNA, and the production and transport of energy from carbohydrates, fat and proteins. In addition, magnesium promotes strong bones and brain health. Researchers have also found that adequate magnesium levels may help prevent several chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Unfortunately, about 2/3 of Americans do not get enough magnesium sources, which include spinach, green peas, soybeans, and almonds.

Manganese
 

Manganese is a trace mineral involved in the formation and maintenance of bone and connective tissue. Studies show that women with osteoporosis have decreased manganese levels.  Manganese also plays a role in wound healing, so adequate dietary manganese is important when recovering from injury. One Polish study found that some cancer fighting drugs, known to impair collagen synthesis and so lengthen wound healing, work by immobilizing manganese so it can’t activate the collagen building enzyme.  Manganese is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol, and is crucial in protecting mitochondria - the power plants of the cells - from free-radical damage. Since mitochondria process 90% of the oxygen that enters the body, they need the best defense against “oxidative damage.” Manganese supplies this as “manganese superoxide dismutase” -- the fastest reacting antioxidant enzyme. Some of the best sources of manganese include pineapple, spinach, sweet potatoes, nuts, oats and berries.

     
Minerals

Like vitamins, minerals are involved a variety of functions in the body. Unlike vitamins, some minerals also play a structural role, such as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, which are the main components of bones and teeth. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium - maintain the fluids balance inside and outside of cells. Your body also needs trace minerals, but in smaller amounts, including iron, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.

 
Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats promote heart health by lowering blood cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats. Liquid at room temperature, monounsaturated fats are derived mainly from plant sources, such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. Keep in mind that they're still fats, and thus calorie-dense, so make sure the "m" in mono- also stands for "moderation."

     

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fat (essential to human health but cannot be made in the body) that promotes heart and brain health; may reduce the risk of arthritis, and even possibly fight wrinkles and depression. There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and ALA. Georgia University research suggest DHA (docosahexanoic acid) may intervene with fat formation. Top sources include salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. USDA data shows that farmed Atlantic salmon actually has slightly higher combined amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon. Testing shows the levels of PCBs in farmed salmon continue to drop and are now comparable to those found in wild salmon.Omega-3 fats, such as alphalinolenic acid, also come from plants foods, like walnuts and seeds, but these sources are not significantly converted to DHA and EPA in the body.

Organic Foods

For more than a decade, annual sales and production of organic foods have grown by double-digits. Organic products now account for approximately 2.6% of total food sales in the U.S. In order for agricultural products in the U.S. to claim they are "organic", they must adhere to the requirements of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 and the regulations promulgated by the USDA through the National Organic Program (NOP) under this act. These laws require operations that produce or handle organic products or ingredients to obtain certification through a USDA-accredited certifying agent. In order to comply with these regulations, organic production can not use biotechnology (use of genetically modified organisms - GMOs), biosolids, or irradation. In addition, the USDA has even prohibited the use of these technologies in connection with non-organic ingredients in organically produced products. An organically produced food can only use the claim "100% organic" if it is made with 100% organic ingredients, but a product can use the term "organic" if it is made with more than 95% organic ingredients. In addition, the term "made with organic" can be used if the product is made with 70-95% organic ingredients.

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Phenolics

Phenolics, or polyphenols, comprise a large category of phytochemicals that include flavonoids (the largest group), phenolic acids, and coumarins. The phenolics family is so large that it is difficult to generalize their possible health effects. However, it is safe to say that dietary phenolics are possibly bioactive and may inhibit free radicals, which can damage cells and are linked to the development of chronic diseases and the aging process. Most brightly colored fruits and vegetables supply phenolics.

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in fruit, vegetables and other plants. In fact, the term "phyto" derives from the Greek word for "plant." There are well over ten thousand known phytochemicals and possibly many more waiting to be discovered. Known phytochemicals have a broad range of possible effects -- from reducing inflammation, to affecting healing, infection and possibly curbing cancer mechanisms.  Phytochemicals are not essential to humans -- i.e. not required by the body to sustain life -- but they are essential to plants, such as fruit and vegetables. Phytochemicals are plants' self-protection mechanism; they help shield young buds and sprouts from predators, pollution and the elements. When we eat fruit and vegetables containing phytochemicals, they might pass along to us many of these evolved protective benefits.  About 80% of phytochemicals have antioxidant properties in the las such as  lycopene, quercetin and beta-carotene. Phytochemicals also include plant enzymes such as pineapple's bromelain and plant sterols such as ß - sitosterol in avocado. The phytochemical C3G, found in Spanish olives, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, red grapes, blood oranges, purple corn and açaí berries may increase production of both adiponectin, a protein that enhances fat metabolism, and leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, according to animal trials at Doshisha University.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats include both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and may play a role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. These fats are known as "essential fats" because they are vital to human health but cannot be made in the body. Polyunsaturated fats help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Top sources include salmon, mackerel, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Don't forget: Though polyunsaturated, they're still fats, and thus calorie-dense, so make sure to eat these foods in moderation.

Potassium

Potassium is both a mineral and an electrolyte, an ion permitting electrical conduction. Potassium plays a key role in vascular dysregulation of a stroke. Potassium also supports normal muscle contraction, nerve impulses, the functioning of the heart and kidneys, and maintenance of the body's proper fluid balance. University of California San Francisco researchers found that potassium may prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Unfortunately, 99% of American women and 90% of men don't get enough potassium in their diet. Top sources include white beans, potatoes, bananas, plantains, broccoli, and kiwi.

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Quercetin

Quercetin is a polyphenol found in onions, apples, red grapes, blueberries, cranberries and bilberries. Lab research from Cornell University suggests that quercetin may protect brain cells against the kind of oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders. Preliminary studies have also shown quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risk of heart disease as well as lung and prostate cancers. One Finnish study found that men who ate the most foods high in quercetin had 60% less lung cancer, 25% less asthma, and 20% fewer diabetes and heart disease deaths. Other pilot research suggests quercetin can protect the immune system during times of extreme physical stress (like post-marathon).

     

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Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a phytochemical found in red/purple grapes, blueberries, cranberries and peanuts. Resveratrol has strong anti-inflammatory effects associated with red wine’s potential health benefits. Researchers from Ohio State University found that resveratrol may have another mechanism to protect the heart, by limiting the effects of a condition called cardiac fibrosis in which the heart loses its ability to efficiently pump blood. In vitro and animal studies also suggest that a high resveratrol intake may inhibit of cancer mechanisms

 
 
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