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Carole Carson, Fitness Advocate

Here are the 15 best foods and a summary of their benefits:

Avocados: Rich in the “good” fats, they also contain blood-pressure lowering phytonutrients that also lower cholesterol. Watch the calories, though.

Blueberries: With four grams of fiber per cut and a good dose of Vitamin C, these berries also contain cancer-protective acid and tannins. They may also boost brain power and vision.

Brazil Nuts: This is a super source of selenium which may reduce prostate, colon and lun cancers. But watch the calories!

Broccoli: This vegetable contains potent anti-cancer substances. Get 3 servings a week and eat its cousins as well–bok choy, brussels sprouds, cauliflower, and cabbage.

Butternut Squash: This fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene as well as bone-building calcium.

Edamame: These green soybeans lower “bad” cholesterol and may protect against colon cancer.

Flaxseed: These seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids which may block hormone-related cancers. They pack plenty of fiber and protein.

Kale: This leafy green scores highest among vegetables in antioxidant power. Eat kale, collards, spinach and turnip greens often to protect the eyes for macular degeneration.

Kiwifruit: These fuzzy berries are the most nutrient dense of 27 commonly eaten fruits. Two contain more potassium than a banana and twice the vitamin C and fiber of a small orange. Plus, they have folate, magnesium, vitamin E, copper and lutein.

Lentils: Lentils offer a bonanza of heart-protective nutrients plus folate, fiber, protein, and iron.

Onions: Onions thin your blood and lower blood pressure, while defending against cancer and cataracts. Red onions are best, then yellow, then white for benefits.

Quinoa: This seed (not grain) delivers high quality protein with a better balance of amino acids than many grains. High in fiber, these seeds contain ample magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin E, riboflavin, copper and more iron than true grains.

Sardines: They contain an exceptional amount of omega-3 fatty acids which decrease clotting, prevent arrhythmias and combat inflammation, plus they boost mood and brain functions. With bones, they also provide calcium and are low in mercury.

Tomatoes: Find them and eat them in sauces, paste, soup, juice and even ketchup. Lycopene-loaded tomatoes provide an anti-oxidant carotenoid thought to protect against several cancers, heart disease and bone loss.

Yogurt: An excellent source of protein, yogurt also provides calcium and friendly bacteria which promote good digestion and boost immunity.

Bon appetit!

Source: Andrea Klausner, M.S., R.D. Environmental Nutrition Newsletter January ’06

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