Eat to Better Health

Written by Lauren Long

Find out how phytochemicals can protect your health and boost your energy.healthy foods

Eat your broccoli. Finish your salad. Spinach will give you muscles. Maybe these mantras take you back to your childhood. But what Mom probably never said, was that these foods could prevent diseases like cancer.

Phytochemicals, the biologically active substances in plant foods, have been shown in recent years to have a major positive impact on your health.

You don't have to cook like a chef to eat well, says Laurie Deutsch Mozian, dietician and author of Foods that Fight Disease. Carry nuts and raisins for quick and healthful snacks on the go. Make a salad with protein-packed canned beans to take to work. Pack peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, and fruit to eat at lunch.

"It takes a commitment to your health to make the necessary dietary changes," says Mozian. "It requires a change in lifestyle, but I don't think that it's difficult."

Eating foods with phytochemicals imparts an additional benefit: increased energy, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

"The 12 women in the study all said they felt so much better, lighter and with more energy, after only one week on phytofoods," says researcher Gene Spiller, Ph.D.

Food as medicine is no longer a fringe notion, says Mozian. "It seems that everyone today believes that how you eat affects the way you feel."

Want to feel better with phytofoods? Mozian suggests a healthy dose of the following:

Cruciferous vegetables: Arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and watercress all contain powerful anticancer substances. Eat at least three or four servings of cruciferous veggies every week.

Whole grains: Whole wheat, oats and quinoa all contain insoluble fiber to benefit health and prevent constipation.

Beans: Eat your beans, particularly soybeans, which contain protease inhibitors that are thought to slow tumor growth. Mozian suggests a daily serving of beans as your source of protein.

Onions and garlic: Vegetables in the allium family, which includes leeks, scallions, chives, shallots, onions and garlic, increase the activity of an enzyme thought to protect cells from cancer-causing free radicals.

Citrus fruits: The oil of citrus fruits, found in the peel, is rich in limonene, which has potent anti-tumor properties.

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