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Turbocharge Your Diet With 10 Super Foods

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

There are certain foods every man, woman and child should consume on a regular basis -- and they aren't pizza, burgers, fries and pop.

Believe it or not, the human diet isn't supposed to be based on foods loaded with calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. You may be a big fan of all of the above, but that doesn't mean these things do a body (or mind) good. Studies show that almost 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Even more shocking, at least 20 percent of children are overweight.

We’re fatter than ever, and it’s cause for concern, according to Drs. Russ Greenfield and Stu Ditchek. It’s bad enough that more than half the adult population in the U.S. are overweight, but now our children are following in our footsteps. Instead of role models, we’ve become roll models, teaching the next generation it’s okay to gorge on Big Macs and supersize fries and sodas.

“One thing we try to put forth is that the role of the parent is to try and put down good fare on the table,” Dr. Russ says from his North Carolina office. “Then the child decides whether he or she eats it or not. What we expose our kids to early on in life is what they’ll return to as early adults. It’s critically important to expose kids to the ideas of good nutrition early on.”

With this in mind, the director of the Carolinas Integrative Health co-authored Healthy Child, Whole Child with colleague Dr. Stu, a renowned pediatrician. Not only is their handbook helpful for healthy child rearing, its also a beneficial blueprint for the parent who doesn't know the first thing about their own nutrition. For many people, relearning how to eat can be painstaking; the determined docs want to ease the burden.

“The first thing is to set realistic goals. We’re not saying tomorrow you should go all organic. To change your diet all at once doesn't work. You have to make small adjustments that are doable and that you can stick with. You have to set goals that are attainable.”

Dr. Russ encourages parents to add healthy, new foods to the menu. Introduce a different vegetable every week. Parents should bring their children shopping and let them pick out fruits and vegetables. This will not only impact what kids eat, it will affect their health and wellbeing later in life.

Food is more than just fuel for the body. It’s medicine that will improve your health, prevent illness and treat diseases. Dr. Russ says study after study has proven the miracle workings of many foods.

Here are Dr. Russ and Dr. Stu’s top 10 list of foods that should be a part of every diet:

Oatmeal: This comfort food does more than just warm the belly and the soul; it manages cholesterol. Rather than popping pills, Dr. Russ supports eating foods that taste good, while still getting the health benefits. Oatmeal is both nutritious and tastes good.

Yogurt: Yogurt that contains live organisms have within them probiotics. These live organisms are, in general, health-promoting. Anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the immune system resides in the digestive track. The bacterial environment can impact proper functioning of the immune system. Data shows the proper utilization of probiotics can lessen the severity of excema and even prevent development of the condition when given to pregnant moms. Dr. Russ recommends organic yogurt and dairy products to avoid the consumption of the bovine growth hormone often found in cows.

Berries: Berries are high in fiber, manganese and antioxidant phytochemicals. They're all high in vitamin C, which is linked to improving cardiovascular health.

Broccoli: Both broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables that appear to contain anti-cancer elements. (One of which is the supplement indole-3 carbinol.) Eating these types of vegetables on a regular basis is a healthy thing for both parents and kids.

Soy: Although there has been much debate around soy, Dr. Russ says consuming soy in moderation (one to two servings a day) can be health promoting, as evidenced in epidemiologic studies and observational studies. Soy may help modulate hormone levels, lower cholesterol and increase calcium deposition in bones. When it comes to soy, women with breast cancer are recommended to ingest less soy than more.

Salmon: This fresh water fish is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids which can only be obtained through diet. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation. Since cardiovascular disease is an inflammatory condition, its understandable why getting fish oils is so important. Although there is a lot of data on fish oil capsules, Dr. Russ says he prefers people eat their fish rather than popping pills. Aim for cold water fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel. Limit intake of shark, swordfish and other carnivorous fish, which may have ingested toxins. Also watch tuna intake, which can be high in mercury.

Orange Juice: Calcium fortified orange juice is a good way for both kids and adults to get calcium. Because it is high in sugar, it might be wise to dilute the juice. This breakfast staple is also loaded with vitamin C, which promotes skin health and prevents problems with air pollution in the lungs.

Almonds and Almond Butter: A smart substitution for peanut butter, almond butter isn't as high in partially hydrogenated fat. Almond also has a healthier fatty acid profile, since it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds and almond butter are also good for fiber, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper and zinc.

Tomato: Tomatoes contain lycopene, which helps prevent and treat prostrate cancer in men. For women, lycopene may help prevent colon cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. Because lycopene is fat soluble, absorption is improved if its eaten with a fat source, such as a little bit of cheese.

Milk: In general, milk is a great way for people to get calcium, especially children. Dr. Russ recommends organic milk to avoid the bovine growth hormone. Although dairy products are fine in moderation for adults, he suggests getting your calcium through green leafy vegetables, soy and orange juice. This is especially important for people who suffer from upper respiratory tract disorders such as asthma.

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