The healthiest foods on earth

There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that's based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat.

What you eat matters less than how much processing it's undergone. Real food--whole food with minimal processing--contains a virtual pharmacy of nutrients, phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and healthful fats, and can easily keep you alive and thriving into your 10th decade. Whole, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains.

Berries

All berries are low in sugar and high in fibre. Blueberries have been shown to increase memory in lab studies, and raspberries and strawberries are loaded with ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant that seems to have some anti-cancer properties, according to the American Cancer Society.

Beans

Beans are extremely high in fibre, which helps to control weight, prevent or manage diabetes and blood sugar, and may help prevent colon cancer and protect against heart disease. The National Institute of Medicine recommends 25-38 grams of fibre a day. One cup of beans provides 11-17 grams.

Nuts

Some of the largest and most important long-term studies of diet and health have shown that eating nuts several times a week is consistent with a risk of heart attack and heart disease that is 30%-50% lower than the general population. Just one ounce of nuts--almonds, macadamia, walnuts and pecans--eaten three to five times a week seems to be the magic number.

Fish

Fish is the ultimate anti-aging food. Cold-water fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring contain omega-3 fats that protect the brain and the heart, improve mood, and lower blood pressure and triglycerides.

Raw Milk

Raw, organic milk nearly always comes from grass-fed cows and contains high levels of cancer-fighting CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) as well as a rich assortment of vitamins, minerals and beneficial bacteria (like Lactobacillus acidophilus).

Grass-Fed Meat

Meat from grass-fed cows has a much different fat profile than ordinary supermarket meat: high in omega-3s, lower in potentially harmful omega-6s and loaded with CLA, a kind of fat known for its anti-cancer activity. A superb source of protein and vitamin B12, it's also missing the antibiotics, steroids and hormones found in the meat that comes from feedlot farms.

Eggs

Considered by many to be nature's most perfect food, the egg is high in protein and relatively low in calories. The yolk contains choline, one of the most important nutrients for the brain, as well as lutein and xeazanthin, two critical nutrients for eye health.

Brassica Vegetables

Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale all contain plant compounds called indoles that help reduce the risk of cancer. In addition to a stunning range of vitamins and minerals, they also contain sulforaphane, an important plant chemical that helps the body detoxify health-damaging chemicals.

Apples

Not only do they keep the doctor away, they also appear to do the same for lung cancer, diabetes and asthma. An apple contains five grams of fibre and a rich blend of nutrients including the bone-building vitamin K and the anti-inflammatory nutrient quercetin. And there's no better way to control your appetite than an apple eaten about half an hour before a big meal.

Onions and Garlic

In an impressive number of published studies, the consumption of onions and garlic has demonstrated protective effects against stomach, prostate and oesophageal cancer. Along with broccoli, tea and apples, onions and garlic are among a select group of foods found to reduce mortality from heart disease by 20%.

Pomegranate Juice

Called "a natural Viagra" by researchers at Tel Aviv University, pomegranate juice is loaded with antioxidants. Studies show it can reduce blood pressure and plaque in the arteries. New research indicates it also slows the progression of tumors. Four to eight ounces a day is highly recommended.

Green Tea

Though all teas are great for you, green tea has a unique profile of plant chemicals that have anti-cancer activity. It's now fairly established that green tea may help prevent the following types of cancers in humans: bladder, colon, oesophagus, pancreas, rectum and stomach. If that's not enough, it also appears to help with weight control.

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