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Good nutrition is one of the 3 components of optimum health (along with sleep and exercise). The current lifestyle most of us lead is one that does not stop.

Excessive stress, overworked and constantly being overstimulated from every angle (think tv, news, deadlines…) we deplete ourselves of the one life force we try to preserve….our energy!

Choosing the right foods, especially in times of stress, can make all the difference. These powerful foods pack an energizing punch and should be eaten in some form, daily.

1. Apples contain naturally-occurring chemical compounds known as phytochemicals, polyphenols, or flavonoids, some of which have been proven to have antioxidant activity that inhibits, or scavenges, the activity of free radicals in the body. Cell damage from free radicals can be a factor in certain cancers, heart disease, strokes, and other conditions.

The major antioxidant components in apples are polyphenols contained mainly in the skin known as quercetin glycoside, phloretin glycoside, chlorogenic acid, and epicatechin. Quercetin has been reported to reduce carcinogenic activity, inhibit enzymatic activities associated with several types of tumor cells, enhance the antiproliferative activity of anticancer agents, and inhibit the growth of transformed tumorigenic cells.

2. Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries – Antioxidant compounds found in blueberries, sweet cherries, strawberries and blackberries may fight arterial disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, according to a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

In studies conducted at the University, Dr. I. Marina Heinonen, a visiting scientist from the University of Helsinki in Finland, and colleagues extracted antioxidant compounds from blackberries, red raspberries, sweet cherries, blueberries and strawberries.

In a series of experiments in laboratory culture dishes, they found that blackberries and Blueberries are of particular interest because of their high antioxidant capacity. They had the most antioxidant activity in one experiment and sweet cherries in another.

3. Fish and Omega Fatty Acids found in fish help prevent blood clots, heart attacks and improves the ratio of good to bad cholesterol. Consider salmon and tuna as great sources of Omega-3. By utilizing high potency Omega-3 from flaxseed and canola, Omega-6 from primrose and black currant and Omega-9 (or Oleic acid, a non-essential fatty acid) from Canola and Flax, you can create the right balance, while minimizing any chance of reoccurring imbalances .

4. Flaxseed is rich in Omega-3 and fiber. You can increase the benefits of flaxseed by having it cracked or ground. This allows us to take full advantage of the rich oil and fiber inside the seeds. Sprinkle the seeds over cereal or bake them into your favorite foods.

5. Grains are the staple of most diets all over the world. A rich source of vitamins and minerals, grains can be used for a variety of ailments based on not only their nutritional value but on their taste and temperature as well. Grains such as oatmeal and buckwheat reduce blood lipids, decreasing heart disease, colon cancer, alkalizing, balances over-acid conditions.

6. Grapes, Juice, Red Wine are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids and have been shown to prevent clogging of the arteries, blood clots and they also contain water-soluble vitamins that strengthen tiny blood vessels, which can help swollen feet or ankles, speed up the healing of bruises and promote healthy collagen for fewer wrinkles.

Remember, moderation with red wine. Two glasses for women, three glasses for men are the beneficial amounts. Anything more than that and you loose these benefits.

7. Greens are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C. For a bigger boost of vitamin A, buy greens that are medium to dark green (the darker the leaves, the more vitamin A).

Many greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards are known for their mineral content, especially iron, calcium, magnesium-as well as the vitamins folate, riboflavin (B2) and vitamin K. Leaves are very rich  in antioxidants– the carotenoids and beta-carotene, the tocopherols (vitamin E) and of course, vitamin C.

8. Milk is a great source of calcium for strong bones and helps reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. As we age, sometimes the milk fat becomes to rich for our digestive tracts or we become lactose intolerant. Start by using milk with less fat such as 2% or 1% milk. Other great sources of calcium include reduced fat cheese, salmon, sardines and yogurt. Calcium supplements can also help. Take with a 3:1 ratio of Vitamin D for better absorption.

9. Nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts are some of the best sources of protein. They make a great snack and have been found to reduce heart attacks by 50% compared to those who did not enjoy these crunchy goodies. Again, do not overdue it. A couple hand fulls of each are all you need and try to avoid those that are drenched in too much salt.

10. Soy makes a great meat substitute and can significantly reduce your saturated fat intake. Some research has shown that soy keeps arteries flexible and bones stronger and benefits the heart and in 20% of pre and post menopausal women, helps reduce hot flashes. (Women with a history of cyst, fibroids, pcos or endometriosis should avoid soy).

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Andrew Pacholyk
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac. has been in the alternative health field for over 15 years. His knowledge, expertise and clinical training has offered him the ability to experience and continually learn about the body and its energy system in health as well as in disease.