Women tend to live longer than men but typically have higher rates of illness. Now, new research from University of Georgia suggests these higher rates of illness can be improved by a better diet, one that is high in pigmented carotenoids such as yams, kale, spinach, watermelon, bell peppers, tomatoes, oranges and carrots. These bright-colored fruits and vegetables are particularly important in preventing visual and cognitive loss.
“The idea is that men get a lot of the diseases that tend to kill you, but women get those diseases less often or later so they perseverate but with illnesses that are debilitating,” said Billy R. Hammond, a professor in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology behavioral and brains sciences program and co-author of the study. “For example, of all of the existing cases of macular degeneration and dementia in the world, two-thirds are women … these diseases that women suffer for years are the very ones most amenable to prevention through lifestyle.”
What do blueberries, spinach and dark chocolate have in common?
They’re all rich in flavonoids, the chemical compounds found in plants that give them color – and medicinal powers. Research shows flavonoids provide a wide range of health benefits, from fighting cancer and lowering the risk for heart disease to preserving brain function. They’ve even been used to fight wrinkles.
“The key reason flavonoids are good for us is they have anti-inflammatory effects and are antioxidants,” said Kristina Petersen, an assistant professor in the department of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
What I like about this list of super foods is that they look and sound like anything but super. Sometimes in our quest for good nutrition we overlook really good quality for exotic berries and concoctions. Clearly we can do very well by looking right in our own back yard.