Superfoods can ward off heart disease, cancer and cholesterol

Imagine a superfood — not a drug — powerful enough to help you lower yourcholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and, for an added bonus, put you in a better mood. Did we mention that there are no side effects? You’d surely stock up on a lifetime supply. Guess what? These life-altering superfoods are available right now in your local supermarket.

“The effect that diet can have on how you feel today and in the future is astounding,” says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, Food & Amp; Mood, and The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.

“Even people who are healthy can make a few tweaks and the impact will be amazing,” Somer says. “I’d say that 50% to 70% of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension can all be impacted.”

You don’t need specific foods for specific ailments. A healthy diet incorporating a variety of the following superfoods will help you maintain your weight, fight disease, and live longer. One thing they all have in common: “Every superfood is going to be a ‘real’ (unprocessed) food,” Somer points out. “You don’t find fortified potato chips in the superfood category.”

Top Superfoods Offering Super Health Protection

  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Oats
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin
  • Salmon
  • Soy
  • Spinach
  • Tea (green or black)
  • Tomatoes
  • Turkey
  • Walnuts
  • Yogurt

Blueberries — Antioxidant Superfood
Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.

“Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases, so blueberries have a host of benefits,” says Ann Kulze, MD, of Charleston, S.C., author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet, A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality. When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have. “I tell everyone to have a serving (about 1/2 cup) every day,” Dr. Kulze says. “Frozen are just as good as fresh.” Be sure to include lots of other fruits and vegetables in your diet as well. Remember too that, in general, the more color they have, the more antioxidants.

Omega 3-Rich Fish — Superfoods for the Heart, Joints, and Memory
“We know that the omega 3s you get in fish lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may possibly help with memory loss and Alzheimer’s,” Somer says. “There is some evidence to show that it reduces depression as well.”

Omega-3s are most prevalent in fatty, cold-water fish: Look for wild (not farmed) salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel. Aim for two-to-three servings a week. Other forms of omega 3s are available in fortified eggs, flax seed, and walnuts. These superfoods have the added benefit of being high in monounsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol.

Soy — Superfood to Lower Cholesterol
A study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association(2003) showed that a diet of soy fiber, protein from oats and barley, almonds, and margarine from plant sterols lowered cholesterol as much as statins, the most widely prescribed cholesterol medicine.

“Look for tofu, soy milk, or edamame — not soy powder,” says Somer. In other words, soy sauce won’t do the trick. One caveat: If you have a family history of breast cancer it is not recommended that you eat extra soy.

Fiber — Superfood Aids Weight Loss and Checks Cholesterol

A diet high in fiber will help you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As a bonus, because fiber helps you feel full longer, it’s a great tool in weight management. Whole grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables are all good sources. Try throwing some beans in your salad, recommends Kulze. “Fresh, frozen, or dried are the best. You can use canned, but they tend to be higher in sodium,” Kulze warns.

Tea — Superfood for Lowering Cholesterol and Inhibiting Cancer

“The overall antioxidant power of black tea is the same as green tea,” says Kulze, “but green tea does have ECGC, a powerful antioxidant that we really do think is quite special.” A recent Japanese study on green tea found that men who drank green tea regularly had lower cholesterol than those who didn’t.

Researchers inSpainand theUnited Kingdomhave also shown that ECGC can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. For a double health whammy, replace sugary sodas with tea.


OK, OK, you know the drill: Calcium helps build strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. Look for it in dairy products or supplements. Added bonus: Some studies show that calcium helps with weight loss. Here are the calcium levels recommended for adults by the USDA:

  • Age 9 to 18 — 1,300 mg
  • Age 19 to 50 — 1,000 mg
  • Age 51 and over — 1,200 mg

And Finally, the Yummiest Superfood Yet … Dark Chocolate

New research has shown that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and can lower blood pressure. Kulze recommends that you look for chocolate with 60% or higher cocoa content; the darker, the better. In addition, the darker it is, the lower the fat and sugar content. Now that’s our kind of health food!

By Susan Seliger

Obesity and brain damage

How Being Overweight Affects the Brain
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh scanned the brains of 94 people over the age of 70. They were looking to see the differences in the brains of people who were of normal weight (BMI under 25), overweight (BMI 25-30), and obese (BMI over 30).

If you are 5 foot 10 and you weigh 220, you have a BMI of 31.6 and would be considered obese. If you are 5 foot 10 and weigh 180, your BMI is 25.8 and you would be considered overweight for purposes of the study. There are certain athletes with lot of muscle mass that make the BMI inaccurate, but for the rest of us it is a valid measurement.

The Scary Results
It turns out that obese people have 8% less brain tissue than people of normal weight. Overweight people have 4% less brain tissue than people of normal weight. According to Dr. Paul Thompson, a UCLA professor of neurology, “This represents ‘severe’ brain degeneration, that’s a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at a much greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain… But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s, if you can eat healthy and keep your weight under control.”

More Bad News
The parts of the brain that degenerated for overweight people are very important; it wasn’t brain mass that we can spare.
Here are the areas affected:
• Frontal and temporal lobes: Critical for planning and memory
• Anterior cingulate gyrus: Responsible for attention and executive functions
• Hippocampus: Important for long-term memory
• Basal ganglia: Essential for proper movement and coordination
Furthermore, the brains of overweight people looked 8 years older than those of people of normal weight, and the brains of obese people looked a whopping 16 years older!

So How Do We Stop This?
I hope that this research has helped motivate you to get to a normal weight if you aren’t already there. I wish there were a magical, “brain pill” that could stop the damage. But the only solution is losing the weight. You probably already know there is only one thing you can do in order to get there, and that is to eat the right foods at the right portions.
Exercise can help, but recent research demonstrates that exercise plays a much smaller role than calorie consumption. In fact, it can hurt your weight loss efforts if you aren’t careful because people seem to overestimate how much more they can eat after exercising. So when you do exercise, make sure to track the calories you burn. This way, you won’t exaggerate the effects in your mind.

Do You Have the Willpower?
If you have the desire to get to a normal weight and for whatever reason just can’t seem to get yourself to eat right, then you are not alone. Only about 5% succeed in losing weight over the long term. These habits are hard to break, and we just aren’t designed to “not eat” the food that is around us. In this case, abundance is a double edge sword! Furthermore, willpower is kind of a myth.

We consciously only have the ability to exhibit conscious self control in one area at a time. I have written about the cookie study before, but I think it is worth repeating (in a very short form). Subjects were brought into a room and asked to solve some brain puzzles. Another group was brought into the same room and asked to solve the same brain puzzles, but in this case they had a plate of cookies in front of them – and were told that they could not eat them!

The group that had to “not eat the cookies” performed dramatically worse than the group without cookies. This means that when you are trying to avoid “bad” foods, it affects just about every other aspect of your day. So when a bit of stress hits, bye, bye diet. So unless you have a stress free life, or amazing self control – changing your eating habits consciously is a tough road.

There is Hope
If you can’t make the change consciously, then you have to make these changes unconsciously. A great strategy for nudging your unconscious mind in the right direction is to control your environment. Get rid of the bad foods in your house and workplace. Put reminders on the refrigerator, plan and prepare your meals ahead of time, etc… the more you can do with your environment to prime your unconscious mind the better.

And if this isn’t enough, try hypnosis. Hypnosis is the ONLY scientifically validated method for training your unconscious mind to eat right (and this is without using willpower – which just doesn’t work). Hypnosis works at a totally different level in the brain. It actually works at the level of self image.


Research: Hypnosis significant for weight loss

In a 9-week study of two weight management groups (one using hypnosis and one not using hypnosis), the hypnosis group continued to get results in the two-year follow-up, while the non-hypnosis group showed no further results (Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1985)

In a study of 60 women separated into hypnosis versus non-hypnosis groups, the groups using hypnosis lost an average of 17 pounds, while the non-hypnosis group lost an average of only .5 pounds (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1986)

In a meta-analysis, comparing the results of adding hypnosis to weight loss treatment across multiple studies showed that adding hypnosis increased weight loss by an average of 97% during treatment, and even more importantly increased the effectiveness POST TREATMENT by over 146%. This shows that hypnosis works even better over time (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1996)

Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.
Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments–Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.
Allison, David B.; Faith, Myles S. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: A meta-analytic reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1996 Jun Vol 64(3) 513-516

Stradling J, Roberts D, Wilson A, Lovelock F. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy for weight loss in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea. International Journal of Obesity Related Metababolic Disorders. 1998 Mar;22(3):278-81.