Superfoods and Supermedicines
With all of the pesticides, sugar and chemicals added to food, processed and fresh, most of us can be somewhat afraid of food. Grocery shopping can be like a trip to the library to work on a research topic that no one seems to care about. Walking around the store checking labels can be time-consuming.
Time can be saved by only shopping in the natural and produce sections, but…that’s a topic for another time. These foods below (organic, of course) one can buy without worrying about any hazardous effects on the body. Not only that, but these delicious foods/herbs actually act as medicine or vitamin supplements, so eat up!
Maybe the myth about garlic keeping away vampires was based in the old knowledge that garlic was excellent at fighting illness. The Egyptians, Russians, Romans and Greeks all used garlic as medicine. An important component of its chemical makeup, allicin, is the element which gives garlic its superpower. Allicin can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, prevent artery hardening and blood clots, as well as generally fight disease and infection. Garlic can kill many types of viruses and bacteria which cause colds, flu, and ear aches, as well as combat digestive issues and may even help prevent cancer. A certain study discovered that eating garlic increases our level of T-cells, which help to boost our immune system and fight illness.
This herb has been used in the Old World for hundreds of years. It is known to reduce pain and inflammation for those with arthritis, without the side effects of some prescription medications. Basil can also lower inflammation with conditions like bronchitis, skin diseases, and asthma. These effects are greater when the Asian varieties versus European varieties are used. Basil can be added to almost any vegetable and roasted, as well as eaten raw in salads, or blended into pesto, which can be used as a dip, spread, or even as pasta sauce. Even a simple basil tea can be wonderful. Adding basil leaves to another herbal tea, or even black tea, provides a nice flavor medley with some wonderful health benefits.
Cabbage is known to help prevent cancer. Need I say more? Cabbage contains antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1, B6 and B5, and vitamin K1, the latter of which most people are deficient in. Vitamin K1 is important for blood clotting but also helps to prevent Alzheimer’s. This vegetable also helps fight inflammation, heal stomach ulcers, and assist with poor digestion. Just like with many other foods, how this veggie is cooked is important. It is imperative not to overcook your cabbage! This is wonderful if you are worried about the smell! Quickly sauteing or short steaming your cabbage is the most it can be cooked before beginning to lose some of its nutritional properties. Most importantly, stay away from the microwave! Microwaving cabbage destroys the enzymes needed for cancer prevention. Eating cabbage raw in a salad or fermented (yummy, kimchi!) is always the best way to absorb all possible vitamins and nutrients.
Ayurvedic healers and doctors in India have been using this root for thousands of years. Just like many of the other food items mentioned in this blog, turmeric can fight colds and other infections, as well as assisting with congestion, sore throat and headaches. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants, and may also help prevent cancer, particularly skin cancer. This root, which looks somewhat like ginger root, can even help fight depression. It can be purchased in the spice section, ground as an herb to be used in cooking, or can be bought whole in the produce section. Turmeric is perfect to add to a homemade ginger and basil tea mix, or it can be used to make a heated milk drink with honey and ginger.
In addition to being the most delicious vegetable (that’s actually a fruit) avocados can actually be purchased non-organically without much heartache. The skin protects the fruit from absorbing most pesticides sprayed, so avocados rank low on the pesticide absorption list. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for bananas, which oddly enough rank high on the same list, along with cucumbers and peaches. The myth that avocado is too fattening is slowly being squashed. Avocado contains a high amount of fat, yes, but it is monounsaturated fat, which lowers cholesterol and reduces risk of heart disease. Avocados also hinder the incidence of stroke, cataracts, high blood pressure and cancer, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. High in vitamins, minerals, folic acid, antioxidants like glutathione, oleic acid, omega 3 and omega 6, avocados truly are a superfood. They can easily be worked into any kind of meal, simply sliced and used as a raw topper, or eaten as an appetizer or dip. It is not difficult to eat at least one avocado per day, and avocados are much better at keeping the doctor away than apples. In addition to staving off disease, avocado also helps regulate metabolism, which makes it a perfect diet and weight loss food! Avocado can also be very filling, and is great as a meat replacement for vegetarians, who can benefit greatly from the superpower of avocado.
Danielle Scudder first discovered the world here in Savannah, GA and has managed to maintain a southern life here in her hometown. She has a Master of Arts in Social Science, specializing in anthropology, and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, as well as of Bachelor of General Studies, specializing in art history, creative writing and photography, from Georgia Southern University.