Dr. Mao's Wellness Living: Healthy Valentine’s Day Foods
Posted Feb. 12, 2012, 1:05 am
Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist
Celebrate the color of love and Valentine’s Day by adding more delicious red foods to your meals. Whether you prefer the scorching heat of a red chili or the sweet crunch of a red bell pepper, you can be sure to get the heart-healthy benefits of Mother Nature’s beautiful bounty.
The pigments responsible for the red coloring of many fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains are known as “anthocyanins.” These flavonoid compounds not only impart a beautiful hue to succulent strawberries and ruby red apples, they also fight free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells. The antioxidant lycopene found in pink grapefruits, tomatoes, and watermelons has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Tomatoes are full of the antioxidant vitamin C and high concentrations of beta-carotene. Just one cup of fresh tomato will give you nearly 58 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 22 percent of the DV for vitamin A, and almost 8 percent of the DV for fiber. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, niacin, B6, and folate. That bowl of homemade tomato sauce not only satisfies your belly, but it may also protect your heart. Potassium helps reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease, while B6 and folate work synergistically to decrease levels of the dangerous chemical homocysteine in the blood. A study in the Journal of Nutrition, found that women with the highest intake of lycopene-rich tomato-based foods had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. Not only can foods like the tomato bolster your heart, but also healing herbs can lend a hand. Super Clarity is a herbal blend of Chinese healing herbs that helps support heart health.
Cherries contain beneficial anthocyanin compounds, which stimulate your pancreas to produce insulin. For hundreds of years, Chinese researchers have observed that cherries help keep diabetics healthy.
These compounds also protect you against cancer, arthritis, and heart disease because they lower cholesterol. So I recommend that you eat lots of cherries and other dark-colored fruits to maintain balanced blood sugar and enjoy a healthy long life!
Go for Goji Berries, the “Super fruit"
While we are on the subject of berries, let’s talk about a well-known member of the traditional Chinese herbalist’s arsenal of herbs: goji berries. Also known as lycium berry and wolfberry, this native Chinese fruit has long been known for its tonic effects, especially on vision, the hormonal system, and the brain.
Goji berry contains polysaccharides, which stimulate the immune system and signal the pituitary to secrete human growth hormone. Goji also has the highest concentration of carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, of any plant in the world, making it a powerful antioxidant.
The berry is also traditionally used together with other Chinese tonic herbs to increase sexual potency and fertility. Rich in linoleic acid (precursor to GLA), riboflavin, selenium, calcium, vitamins B and C, zinc, and other trace minerals, these berries are safe to use and have been used for thousands of years in Asia.
Pomegranates for Longevity
Pomegranates have been prized for centuries for their healing properties and delicious tart flavor. A symbol of fertility in ancient China, Greece, and the Middle East, these ruby red jewels pack a powerful punch of polyphenols that will bedazzle your taste buds and boost your health and longevity!
Packed with potent antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, the kernel-like seeds house a treasure trove of B5, potassium, folate, and fiber. Inside its deep purple, leathery skin, you will find 16 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, 4 percent of your vitamin A, and 2 percent of the recommended iron. Pomegranates are a rich source of antioxidants; 100 percent natural pomegranate juice beats out oranges, grapefruits, cranberry juice, and grape juice for antioxidant activity. Just what do all these antioxidants do for our health? Antioxidants fight free radicals, the unstable molecules that damage our DNA and cell membranes, leaving us susceptible to aging and disease. Luckily, we can treat our bodies to the antioxidant-rich juice of the “jewel of winter.” Pomegranate juice provides your body with three potent polyphenols: tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid. These three musketeers work synergistically to fight cancer and disease. Pomegranate extract and juice has also been shown to have positive effects on diabetes, the common cold, and atherosclerosis.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at firstname.lastname@example.org.