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Are Popular 'Super Foods' Really Beneficial?

Are Popular 'Super Foods' Really Beneficial?


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Research reveals better, lesser known super foods

A number of recent studies focusing on phytonutrients, chemicals with numerous health benefits found in the pigmentation of fruits and vegetables, show that maybe we aren’t getting as many nutrients as we thought.

It turns out that popular super foods available at the grocery store like spinach and apples aren't that rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients may aid in preventing and treating cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, four major causes of death in the Western hemisphere.

There are phytonutrient-superior counterparts, but they can’t always be easily be bought at your local grocer. For example, though now they are used for landscaping, Siberian crabapple trees used to be eaten frequently by our ancestors. Despite their heightened phytonutrient levels, the reason you won't be able to find them now is because their sour, unpleasant taste keeps most stores from stocking them. On the other hand, spinach’s competition can be found in your backyard or local farmers' market — dandelion greens, are becoming much more popular due to their high vitamin and low calorie content.

However, just because we aren’t seeing phytonutrient-rich foods labeled in our grocery stores doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Scallions' fragrant green stalks, for example, are high in both fiber and antioxidants, being a great source of phytonutrients.

In general, fruits and vegetables still contribute to our overall health, and we should continue to eat them, but instead of getting a Spanish onion at your grocer, maybe opt for the scallions.


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Eating a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is one of the most important parts of living a healthy lifestyle. Science says nutrient-dense foods not only make you feel great, but may even reduce your risk of certain chronic health conditions while providing multiple health benefits.

You&rsquove most likely heard the term &ldquosuperfoods&rdquo to describe foods that will supposedly make you look great, feel great and help you live a longer, healthier life &mdash but what are &ldquosuperfoods&rdquo and what makes them so super? We&rsquove taken a look at these so-called superfoods to see what about them packs that extra nutrient punch and how you should incorporate them into your everyday diet.


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Superfood for beautiful Skin

Super Foods for Super Skin

It’s been said we are what we eat, and that sentiment definitely holds true when it comes to our skin. It’s our body’s biggest organ, and it deserves all the nutritional TLC we can give it. So take a look at what you’ve been feeding yourself, and therefore feeding your skin.

One of the most important components of skin health is vitamin A, and probably one of the best sources of it is low-fat dairy products. It could be said the health of our skin depends on vitamin A. Low-fat yogurt is not only high in vitamin A but also acidophilus, the “live” bacteria that is good for intestinal health. Turns out, it may also have an impact on the skin since it aids indigestion. Other good sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy vegetables, and fortified breakfast cereals.

It’s important to also make sure you’re eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and plums. The benefits of these foods for healthy skin are plentiful. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect the skin cells, so there is less chance for damage. This in turn guards against premature aging and keeps skin looking younger longer. Other fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants include artichokes, black, red, and pinto beans, prunes, and pecans.

Essential fatty acids are essential to your skin. Include salmon, walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseed. They can keep cell membranes healthy, and allow nutrients to pass through.

We also need healthy oils, which contain more than essential fatty acids. Eating good-quality oils helps keep the skin lubricated and keeps it looking and feeling healthier overall. Look for oils that are cold-pressed, such as olive or extra virgin oil. We only need about two tablespoons a day of healthy oils, so use wisely.

Selenium plays an important role in the health of skin cells. Turn to foods like Whole-wheat bread, muffins, and cereals turkey, tuna, and brazil nuts for this important nutrient. Recent studies show that if selenium levels are high, even skin damaged by the sun may only suffer minimal if any, damage.

Choosing the whole grain versions of complex carbohydrates can have a significant effect on insulin levels. Processed and refined sugars can cause inflammation that may ultimately be linked to skin breakouts.

Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties, and it protects the membrane of the cell. It may even help prevent or reduce skin cancer risks.

Water plays such an important role in your overall health, and it has a profound effect on your skin’s health as well. Well-hydrated skin is healthy and young-looking. It also helps move the toxins out of your system so they have less chance to do damage.

Superfoods to Rejuvenate Body, Mind, and Spirit

When the goal is rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit, the method should be smaller, more frequent snacks and meals. This will help keep energy levels on an even keel and regulate your blood sugar levels to avoid spikes and dips. When you choose the right combination of foods, your body gets the much-needed boost it needs to sustain itself properly, even through those slumps later in the day. So dump those high sugar junk foods and reach for the following foods and get that boost you need.

Any fresh fruit, especially with skins or seeds like peaches, apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries, is a great source of vitamins and fiber. In the summer you can choose a peach and get plenty of dietary fiber, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, beta carotene, and vitamin A, plus high amounts of vitamin C. Niacin is important for providing energy for cell tissue growth. Along with regulating fluid balance, potassium helps maintain the electrical stability of the cells of your heart and nervous system and is important for cell and muscle growth. Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, nerve function, and metabolizing protein and fat.

Dried Apricots and Almonds combination provides a high amount of vitamin A, iron protein, and dietary fiber. Both foods are low in cholesterol and sodium, and apricots are a great source of potassium, which is important in regulating your body’s fluid balance. The vitamin A in apricots contributes to healthy vision, bone growth, and reproduction, and helps fight infection.

Raisins are a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-sodium snack with significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, copper, and iron, and when mixed with low-fat yogurt, you also get riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B12, as well as a high amount of calcium, which is needed not only for strong bones and teeth but also plays a key role in the normal functioning of the heart and other muscles.

Baby carrots and sesame sticks are a tasty treat that will provide significant amounts of beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper, and fiber. Beta carotene helps protect against diseases like heart disease and some cancers.

Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, for better night vision, and to fight infection and respiratory ailments. Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential to human life, helping to form red blood cells and break down proteins, and playing a key role in cell growth and division.

Peanut butter on some whole-grain crackers is an excellent source of protein, iron, niacin, and fiber. Peanut butter on celery is a classic snack, has great staying power, and the celery is stuffed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and is high in fiber. Low-fat string cheese is a good quick source of protein and calcium. They come in easy-to-carry individual servings and you can add a piece of fresh fruit for extra fiber.

Superfoods for Healthy Hair

We’ve all learned through the years that a well-balanced diet is healthy for our body and critical for optimal health and performance. Our hair is no different A mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and iron are all required for healthy, strong hair.

Good hair nutrition begins with getting enough protein, which is the building block of your hair. Then you need complex carbohydrates to help assemble the proteins for hair growth. Other important vitamins and minerals include the B complex, which is associated with energy production and building good hair and skin issues, folic acid, B12, and zinc.

Hair follicles can have low energy levels just like we do. Therefore, it’s very important that you eat a high protein meal at the start of each day. Consider the following food choices for breakfast and the other daily meals in order to give your hair the healthiest opportunity to grow and thrive.

If you don’t have high cholesterol, try eating red meat twice per week. It has the protein your hair needs but also is full of B vitamins, iron, and zinc, which are all important for healthy hair. Bacon is another great choice as it’s also full of B vitamins, zinc, and protein, but since it’s also high calorie, it’s not the best choice if you’re also trying to lose weight. Eggs and egg whites are another great protein option, especially for vegetarians or those who cannot eat red meat or bacon due to dietary restrictions. Salmon is another great protein choice and works great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’ll find it’s also full of B vitamins, including B12, and other vitamins and minerals.

Just be sure to keep in mind that you should also have complex carbohydrates, which feed you energy over a longer period of time than refined carbohydrates, with your protein source at meals. Brown short-grain rice is an ideal form. It’s also a good source of B vitamins and some fiber. Whole-grain choices complement your protein consumption by helping organize the proteins for the hair to utilize for optimal growth and health.

Color Your Way to Daily Health

It’s important that we eat plenty of different fruits and vegetables every day. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

You’ve probably heard about the 5 A Day for Better Health program. It provides easy ways to add more fruits and vegetables into your daily eating patterns. It’s vital that we eat a wide variety of colorful orange/yellow, red, green, white, and blue/purple vegetables and fruit every day. By eating vegetables and fruit from each color group, you will benefit from the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that each color group has to offer alone and in combination.

There are several different yet simple ways to start incorporating vegetables and fruit into your familiar and favorite meals. You can begin your day with 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, slice bananas or strawberries on top of your cereal, or have a salad with lunch and an apple for an afternoon snack. Include a vegetable with dinner and you already have about 5 cups of fruits and vegetables. You may even try adding a piece of fruit for a snack or an extra vegetable at dinner.

Don’t be afraid to try something new to increase your vegetable and fruit intake. There are so many choices when selecting fruits and vegetables. Kiwifruit, asparagus, and mango may become your new favorite. Keep things fresh and interesting by combining fruits and vegetables of different flavors and colors, like red grapes with pineapple chunks, or cucumbers and red peppers.

Get in the habit of keeping fruits and vegetables visible and easily accessible – you’ll tend to eat them more. Store cut and cleaned produce at eye-level in the refrigerator, or keep a big colorful bowl of fruit on the table.


The Best Superfoods

Keep this list of vitamin- and mineral-packed ingredients handy to be sure you’re filling up on foods that taste amazing and offer up tons of good-for-you nutrients.

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What Is a Superfood?

There is no one definition for a "superfood," but a classification might include a whole food that tastes amazing and has a ton of good-for-you nutrients to offer. As this list proves, you don&rsquot need overly fancy or obscure ingredients to reap the super benefits.

Salmon

This fatty fish is brimming with omega-3 fats, which have been shown to benefit skin, circulation, vision and healthy nerve function. Omega-3 intake may also reduce the risk of high blood pressure, sudden-death heart attacks, Alzheimer&rsquos and rheumatoid arthritis.

Broccoli

This member of the cruciferous vegetable family (aka cabbage family) has been shown to help lower your risk of cancer. It's also packed with antioxidants like vitamins A and C. One favorite way to enjoy it is in this broccoli salad.

Blueberries

One cup of these blue gems has 84 calories, 21 grams of carbs and almost 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C and anthocyanidins, which give these berries their gorgeous hue and may help protect against prostate cancer and glaucoma.

Chocolate

An ounce of dark chocolate a day can do the body good. All the goodness of chocolate comes from the cocoa bean. The darker the chocolate, the more nutrients you'll get. This includes the potent antioxidant theobromine, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation and help lower blood pressure.

Sweet Potatoes

This superstar tuber is one of the oldest around. One medium sweet potato contains more than 400 percent of your daily dose of beta-carotene (the antioxidant form of vitamin A) and the antioxidant lycopene. It's also a good source of vitamin C, fiber and heart-healthy potassium. Mash, puree or bake sweet potatoes in the skin, or slice and bake them into healthy fries.

Quinoa

One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 15 percent of your daily dose of iron and many energy-producing B-vitamins. It&rsquos also one of only a small number of plant-based foods that contain all the essential amino acids, plus it&rsquos gluten-free.

Almonds

Almonds are chock full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein and the antioxidant vitamin E. They're a good source of fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. Choose raw or blanched almonds if you are watching your intake of sodium.

Greek Yogurt

With more than twice the hunger-fighting protein per ounce than traditional yogurt, this tart and creamy yogurt is a must-have. Use it to make smoothies, to lighten up sauces, as a condiment or just enjoy it topped with your favorite fruit.

Beans

Beans are not only good for your heart &mdash they&rsquore also good for your wallet. This legume powerhouse is packed with protein, carbohydrates and fiber (the type that helps lower your risk for colon cancer and decreases cholesterol).

Eggs are a versatile and affordable protein-rich food that also contains coveted nutrients hard to come by in other foods, including omega-3s, choline and vitamin D. According to the latest research, healthy individuals can enjoy an egg per day as part of a heart-healthy routine.

Chia Seeds

These tiny black seeds have gained a ton of (well-deserved) attention in recent years, offering up plenty of plant-based fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Their ability to "gel" when soaked in liquid also makes them a welcomed addition to vegan puddings and baked goods as an egg replacement.

Pistachios

Higher in protein than any other nut, pistachios also provide fiber and those healthy unsaturated fats, making them one satisfying superfood. Add whole or chopped shelled pistachios to trail mix, salads or baked goods, or use them as a coating for chicken or fish.

Lentils

Here&rsquos a legume to love! A study published in 2014 linked a steady intake of pulses, including lentils, to lower "bad" cholesterol levels. Lentils make a delightfully earthy addition to soups, chili, salads, meatballs and burgers.

Flax Seeds

Sprinkle ground flax into smoothies, oats, muffins, granola and even meatballs. Each tablespoon of this super seed contains protein, iron, fiber, magnesium and omega-3 fats.

Watermelon

Refreshing, hydrating and naturally sweet &mdash a superfood trifecta. Watermelon is a summertime favorite for good reason. The white rind is also one of the best sources of citrulline, an amino acid with a continuing body of research to support its beneficial effects.

Teeming with vitamin K, potassium, iron and calcium, kale benefits bone, blood and muscle health. From salads and soups to quiche and chips, kale is a superfood that never seems to go out of style.

Peanut Butter

There aren&rsquot many people who don&rsquot love the creamy goodness of peanut butter. In both sweet and savory recipes, peanut butter adds depth and flavor like no other ingredient. A comprehensive study published in 2016 supports that peanuts can help fight inflammation and play a role in weight management, heart health, diabetes and brain health.

Avocados

There are endless super recipes for this superfood. Whether you choose a bowl of guac or spoonfuls of vegan ice cream, take advantage of the healthy monounsaturated fats and the antioxidant lutein to benefit your eyes and skin.

Beets

The nutritional benefits of this root veggie can&rsquot be BEET! In addition to the countless inflammation-fighting antioxidants, beets contain naturally occurring nitrates to help lower blood pressure.

Edamame

These bright-green soybeans pack in 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in just a half-cup. Soy is one of the few plant-based proteins with the same amino acids as meat, making edamame an ideal choice for vegan and vegetarian meals and snacks.

Talk about superfood goodness from an affordable and versatile whole food! The soluble fiber in oats benefits digestion and is a superhero for heart health. Oats have also been linked to having an anticancer effect.


2 of 11

Cauliflower

&ldquoThis superfood has been getting its moment in the spotlight for the past couple of years and that will continue into 2020,&rdquo says Gellman. Cauliflower is rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, which is a necessity for healthy immune systems, as well as riboflavin and thiamin, B vitamins that help convert food into energy. One of the best parts? Cauliflower is incredibly versatile and, with the right preparation, can transform to mimic the texture of many popular foods that aren&rsquot super nutritious.


What superfoods are good for&nbspdiabetes?

“Superfood” is a term used by many food and beverage companies as a way to promote a food thought to have health benefits however, there is no official definition of the word by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates the health claims allowed on food labels to ensure there is scientific research to support the claims. The list of foods below are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that are good for overall health and may also help prevent disease.

Beans

Kidney, pinto, navy or black beans are packed with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. They are very high in fiber too.

Beans do contain carbohydrates, but ½ cup also provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat. To save time you can use canned beans, but be sure to drain and rinse them to get rid of as much added salt as possible.

Dark green leafy vegetables

Spinach, collards and kale are dark green leafy vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, calcium and potassium. These powerhouse foods are low in calories and carbohydrates too. Try adding dark leafy vegetables to salads, soups and stews.

Citrus fruit

Grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes or pick your favorites to get part of your daily dose of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium.

Sweet potatoes

A starchy vegetable packed full of vitamin A and fiber. They are also a good source of vitamin C and potassium.

Craving something sweet? Try a sweet potato in place of a regular potato and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Berries

Which are your favorites: blueberries, strawberries or another variety? Regardless, they are all packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Berries can be a great option to satisfy your sweet tooth and they provide an added benefit of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, potassium and fiber.

Tomatoes

The good news is that no matter how you like your tomatoes, pureed, raw, or in a sauce, you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium.

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fats may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Fish high in these healthy fats are sometimes referred to as "fatty fish." Salmon is well known in this group. Other fish high in omega-3 are herring, sardines, mackerel, trout and albacore tuna. Choose fish that is broiled, baked or grilled to avoid the carbohydrate and extra calories that would be in fish that is breaded and fried. The American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes recommends eating fish (mainly fatty fish) twice per week for people with diabetes.

An ounce of nuts can go a long way in getting key healthy fats along with helping to manage hunger. In addition, they offer magnesium and fiber. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Whole grains

It’s the whole grain you’re after. The first ingredient on the label should have the word “whole” in it. Whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, B vitamins, chromium, iron and folate. They are a great source of fiber too. Some examples of whole grains are whole oats, quinoa, whole grain barley and farro.

Milk and yogurt

You may have heard that milk and yogurt can help build strong bones and teeth. In addition to calcium, many milk and yogurt products are fortified to make them a good source of vitamin D. More research is emerging on the connection between vitamin D and good health. Milk and yogurt do contain carbohydrate that will be a factor in meal planning when you have diabetes. Look for yogurt products that are lower in fat and added sugar.

Tips for eating on a budget

Some of the items above can be tough on the budget depending on the season and where you live. Look for lower cost options such as fruit and vegetables in season or frozen or canned fish. Foods that are easier on the budget year ‘round are beans and whole grains that you cook from scratch.

Learn more about how to include these and other healthful foods into your meals. The American Diabetes Association's book What Do I Eat Now? provides a step-by-step guide to eating right.


One cup of raw beets has 58 calories and 13 grams of carbohydrates. A cup of beet juice is usually around 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates, because of the way it is processed.

Continued

Beets are good sources of folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as nitrates.

Other good food sources of nitrates include spinach, radishes, lettuce, celery, and Chinese cabbage.

Eating beets won’t give you the same quantity of nitrates, because cooking hampers some of the nitrates, but it certainly is good for your health, says Marjorie Nolan, RD.

If you start drinking beet juice, you should know that it may make your urine and stools look reddish. That's normal.

Sources

Hobbs, D. British Journal of Nutrition, Dec. 14, 2012.

Breese, B. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Oct. 2, 2013.

Lansley, K. Journal of Applied Physiology, published online Nov. 11, 2010.

Kanner, J. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, November 2001.


Fish provides powerful omega-3 fatty acids. Evidence suggests that omega-3s, particularly those coming from fish, may help prevent inflammatory diseases, such as coronary heart disease. Although all fish have some omega-3s, the stars include sardines, salmon, oysters, mackerel, tuna steak, wild rainbow trout, shark steak, albacore tuna, and herring.

Fish also offers an essential nutrient that’s hard to find in food: vitamin D.

Skip sticks and deep fried fish, and go fresh when possible, two or three times a week.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

Sources

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, December 2009 vol 109(12): pp 2073-2085.

Ahmad, S. Journal of Nutrition, February 2009 vol 139(20): pp 377-385.

Bischoff-Ferrari, H. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2006 vol 84(1): pp 18-28.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2006 vol 106: pp 403-413.

Office of Dietary Supplements: “Health Professional Fact Sheet: Zinc.” Updated June 2009.

Percival, S. Journal of Nutrition, September 2009 vol 139(9): pp 1801S-1805S.

DeFuria, J. Journal of Nutrition, August 2009 vol 139(8): pp 1510-1516.

Joseph, J. Journal of Nutrition, September 2009 vol 139(9): pp 1813S-1817S.

ESHA Research Food Processor SQL, Nutritional Analysis software.

Linetzky Waitzberg, D. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 2009 vol 24(4): pp 487-499.

Harris, W. Journal of Nutrition April 2009 vol 139(4): pp 804S-819S.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2006 vol 83(1): pp 124-131.

Song, Y. Journal of Nutrition, September 2009 vol 139(9): pp 1626-1631.

Charles Stephensen, PhD, research scientist, USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center, University of California, Davis.

David Leopold MD, director of integrative medical education, Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, San Diego.

Susan S. Percival, PhD, professor of food science and human nutrition, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Mark Pereira, PhD, nutritional epidemiologist, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.


10 Superfood-Infused Soups to Soothe Your Winter Soul

The cure for surviving this season's long, cold nights comes in a steaming hot bowl. Cook up one of these recipes made with simple yet good-for-you ingredients.

Pack in even more goodness to your classic butternut squash soup with white beans, a top source of iron and potassium. The best part? This soup lasts for up to three months! Freeze it in a FoodSaver Vacuum Seal bag, then lock in the flavor and freshness with the FoodSaver FM5000 Vacuum Sealing system, and thaw when you're ready to eat.

That kick you get from raw ginger is more powerful than you think: The herby superfood has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The leafy green scores big nutritional points for its hefty dose of Vitamin K and immune-boosting properties. Swap the kale salad for this indulgent soup on cold nights.

Thanks to all the boldly seasoned cauliflower &mdash high in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and fiber &mdash this curry is what a healthy dinner in disguise looks like. Tip: Make this one ahead of time to let the seasonings mix and mingle. Go for a flavor-locking container like FoodSaver's Fresh Containers and store in the fridge the night before you're ready to serve.


Healthy "Superfood" Recipes

Whole roasted onions stuffed with creamy parsnip puree and topped with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts and pungent Roquefort cheese are satisfying alone or alongside roasted meats. As a bonus, onions pack a big dose of "flavonoids," a subclass of phytonutrients that might help ward off certain cancers and protect the heart.

The omega-3 oils in salmon are thought to promote healthy arteries and may also help treat depression and rheumatoid arthritis. Health benefits aside, there's no quicker weeknight supper than our Pineapple- and Soy-Glazed Salmon. Slipped into the oven, it cooks in less than 10 minutes. The glaze includes a fermented soybean paste, one of whose phytonutrients, isoflavone, seems to mimic estrogen and could prevent breast and prostate cancers.

Our Preserved Lemon Chicken is a dish whose delightful flavors are a result of a marriage of sweet-tart preserved lemons and fresh whole lemons, buttery olives, fresh herbs, and tomatoes. Lemons contribute high amounts of vitamins C and B, which aid in the prevention of stomach cancer. All citrus fruits (especially the peel, as used in this recipe) contain generous quantities of disease-fighting phytonutrients.

Strips of smoky bacon and sauteed collard greens are tossed with a warm vinaigrette for our Hot Collard Slaw. Easy to make but complex in flavor, this side dish is loaded with nutrients that keep your eyes and bones healthy. Preliminary research indicates that dark leafy greens support the immune system and may ward off certain types of cancer. These greens are also rich in folic acid, a nutrient critical for fighting anemia and preventing some birth defects.

For a good punch of infection-fighting garlic, which also lowers blood pressure and may help prevent stomach cancer, serve up bowls of Roasted Garlic Soup. It offers a mellow sweet taste and a smooth and soothing texture.

Bagna Cauda, a pungent dip, is loaded with heart-healthy olive oil and antioxidants. Plunge crisp vegetables or crusty bread into this warm blend of oil, anchovies, and garlic.

Made with an olive-oil crust and a drizzle of herb-infused olive oil, our Tomato and Camembert Tart provides a double dose of a healthful ingredient.

That one of life's great indulgences, chocolate, might also prove beneficial to health is good news, indeed. And what better way to enjoy those benefits than in chocolate cake? We call this one "Hot" Chocolate Cake because it pairs rich cocoa and bittersweet chocolate with a hint of spicy cayenne pepper--a warming choice for a winter snack. The cacao beans from which chocolate is extracted seem to have the same powerful antioxidants found in red wine and tea. At last, chocolate can be enjoyed fully guilt free.

The well-publicized health benefits &mdash reduced risk of heart disease and cancer &mdash associated with consuming a moderate amount of red wine daily don't come only from sipping a little cabernet or merlot. Cooking or reducing wine concentrates its flavors without altering its potent antioxidants, called phenols. So add red wine to a winter dessert like our Spiced Figs in Port Wine. Port, a fortified wine, is simmered with honey, dried figs, and spices to create lusciously soft fruit and a thick, burgundy-colored syrup that adds complex flavors and dramatic color to a serving of frozen yogurt.