After discussing meats and fish – here is the last part of this series, this time about the health benefits of certain specialty foods and beverages.
The most interesting part for us is that the flavonoids contained in these pomegranate seeds have two to three times the antioxidant power of red wine or green tea. That’s a lot of antioxidant power and very helpful to prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation.
Grape skins contain a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol is one of the most potent polyphenols found in grape skin and seeds. Red wine gets its color and antioxidant super powers from the grape skins and seeds pressed and fermented with the juice during the winemaking process.
Some studies have found that red wine can raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Red wine also is suspected of helping to prevent blood from clotting and reducing damage done by oxidation to our blood vessels.
Green and Black Tea
Green tea, being the least processed contains the most of one particular type of polyphenols called catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. Green tea has also been found to lower fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting.
On the other hand, black tea is fully oxidized which eliminates the beneficial catechins. But during the fermentation process the black tea develops other forms of antioxidants called biflavonols, thearubigens and theaflavins. It turns out that theaflavins are as effective an antioxidant than catechins. In a recent research, these flavonoids helped reduce the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Theaflavins are also known to activate our own body’s powerful antioxidant, SOD (superoxide dismutase). Black tea has also been shown to be superior to green tea in lowering triglycerides levels.
What makes this refreshing drink so special besides its beautiful color? For one thing, it is loaded with vitamin C, a known antioxidant. Hibiscus tea has also been found to help lower blood pressure. In an article in a 2009 issue of the Internal Medicine News, hibiscus tea is described as follows: Hibiscus sabdariffa has antihypertensive and antiatherosclerotic effects. Hibiscus contains flavonoids and phenolics acids that have potent antioxidant properties.
Healthy Specialty Foods
Raw Cocoa Powder
Raw cocoa provides many beneficial compounds such as serotonin (an anti-stress neurotransmitter) and tryptophan (which fights depression). In our case, what piqued my interest is that raw cacao powder is high in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants as are found in red wine and green tea. The cocoa’s special types of flavonoids are called flavanols. Flavanols are known to prevent the fat contained in our blood (cholesterol) from clumping together and creating clots or depositing as plaque.
Assorted Fermented Foods
I firmly believe in the benefits of fermented foods for our digestive system. Because I believe that our health starts in the gut, we need to keep it healthy by providing our bodies with live probiotics.
Fermented foods are known to support your digestive health, support your immune system and help control inflammation. Also keep in mind that the fermented foods mentioned in this paragraph are high in fiber. They are: natural sauerkraut, Kimchi, real pickles, natural yogurt and kefir, miso and probiotics.
This concludes my series on “Best Foods To Eat For A Healthy Heart”. Stay tuned for the upcoming series on the “Health Benefits Of Chocolate”!