Apples: Apples have long been thought to be a healthy food, indeed many of us grew up hearing that they kept the doctor away! It is now known that apples contain the phytonutrient quercitin, which prevents the oxidation (damage) of LDL cholesterol thus lowering the risk of damage to our arteries and in turn, the risk of heart disease. They also contain pectin, a soluble fibre that seems to be very effective in lowering levels of blood cholesterol. Pectin also binds to heavy metals in our body, such as lead, and removes them from the gut. Ideal baby first food when cooked and pureed.
Avocados: Pound for pound avocados provide more heart healthy monounsaturated fat, fibre, vitamin E, folic acid and potassium than any other fruits. As if this was not enough, they are also the number one fruit source of beta-sitosterol, a substance that can reduce total cholesterol. They also supersede other fruits in the antioxidant lutein, which, in studies has shown to protect people from cataracts. Lutein has also been linked with protecting your cardiovascular system and preventing prostate cancer. Avocados are very easily digested, which makes them ideal for people that have problems digesting fatty foods.
Bananas: Bananas are slightly higher in energy than other fruits but the calories come mainly from carbohydrate; excellent for refuelling before, during or after exercise. Great first baby food, too; just mashed them well and add some of the baby milk to get the right consistence.
Bananas contain phytochemicals known as antioxidants. These antioxidants protect cells in the body against damage from free radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer.
Bananas are also jam-packed with potassium that helps lower blood pressure, and vitamin B6 for healthy skin and hair.
Blueberries, Cranberries and Blackcurrants: They not only look and taste great but blueberries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanidins, some of the strongest antidotes to oxidative stress, which many scientists believe to be the cause of aging in humans. They are great immune-stimulants. Also they are not real berries, so you can introduce them in your baby’s diet as soon as 8-9 months.
Broccoli: If the other foods here are “super” foods then broccoli should be a “mega-super” food. Researchers are finding a wealth of healthy compounds in this vegetable, which include two power anti-cancer substances, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Sulforaphane destroys any carcinogenic compounds that you have ingested and then it creates enzymes that eat up any carcinogens left over from that reaction. Broccoli is also a good source of beta-carotene and potassium, which helps lower your risk of heart disease. Many therapists suggest eating broccoli at least three times a week and now we know why.
Garlic: Numerous clinical trials have shown garlic to be an excellent cancer fighter – studies suggest that it has the ability to prevent development of cancers of the breast, colon, skin, prostate, stomach and oesophagus. Garlic also helps stimulate the immune system by encouraging the growth of natural killer cells, which directly attack cancer cells. It also has the ability to kill the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, a major cause of ulcers and stomach cancer. Introduce garlic to baby’s diet slowly and wait until he/she is at least 12 months old.
Pumpkin: Pumpkins and squash are packed full of beta carotene (only carrots and sweet potatoes have more) and are the number one source of alpha carotene, a cancer inhibitor potentially more powerful than beta-carotene. They also provide vitamins B5, C, E, potassium, calcium and fibre. And don’t throw out the seeds, as they are an excellent source of zinc, essential fatty acids, and are a great source of plant protein. Cooked and mashed pumpkins are great first food for babies! And they love them because of their natural sweet taste.
Salmon: One of the best oily fish providing an excellent source of Omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked with protecting against breast and other cancers and relieving autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Omega 3 is also essential for a brain as well as heart health, and has been linked with accelerated learning and attention span in children and helping mental functions in the elderly. Other oily fish include herring, tuna and mackerel.
Whole Grains: Several epidemiological studies show that people who consume large amounts of whole grains every day have a lower risk of heart disease. Whole grains include brown rice, millet, oats and wholegrain bread. Population research also suggests that whole grains help prevent colon, breast and prostate cancer. The complex carbohydrates and fibre slow the release of blood sugar providing a great slow energy source. Fibre can also help to prevent constipation, encourages the growth of “friendly “bacteria in the gut, and aids the removal of toxins from the body.
Yogurt: Yogurt is an easily absorbed source of calcium. It’s also a useful milk substitute for people who can’t digest large amounts of the milk sugar, lactose.
Yogurt has long been credited with a range of therapeutic benefits, many of which involve the health of the large intestine and the relief of gastrointestinal upsets.
The bacteria Lactobacillus GG, added to some yoghurt, are not digested, and reach the large intestine intact where they top up the other friendly bacteria living there.
3 Comments September 25, 2009