New Castle News

June 6, 2013

Lori Brothers: Numbers up? Then chow down on some phytochemicals

Lori Brothers
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — There are a lot of numbers you are supposed to know in order to be clear about where you are in your health, and to make your health goals.

Do you know your numbers for your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and body mass index?

Knowing these important numbers can help you identify what steps you need to take to reduce your risk for developing a chronic disease. You can contact your health care professional to establish a baseline, if you don’t know your numbers, or if you’re not current.

Now, let’s also talk some interesting numbers that deliver great results directly to the cellular level of your body.

There are more than 150 phytochemicals in just one apple, which deliver a multitude of health benefits to humans. The saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is because nature delivers a variety of information to our cells that work in combination to keep us well.

Phytochemicals are so numerous that science cannot isolate all of them, or even name specifically what they all do. But what science does know is that when you put them all together, they make us healthier.

Your “friends” to good health and better numbers are the colors of the rainbow found in fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas) and grains. The colors of veggies and fruits are directly due to the kinds and amounts of phytochemicals that they contain. If it’s fresh and colorful eat it for excellent health.

Plant colors actually come from the process of the plants protecting themselves. Plants make antioxidants to strengthen and protect themselves, and this process produces hundreds of these healthy compounds, known as phytochemicals, that feed our cells.

Some compounds that have been identified as more notable for their benefits include: flavonoids, such as saponins and quercitin; Ellagic acid; vitamin E and C; and beta-carotene.

This is why a diet that contains an abundance of fruits, veggies and whole grains is promoted by physicans and nutritionists. Inviting as many plants to your plate as you can will enhance your outcomes.

In more than 15 years of working with people to promote healthy lifestyle choices, I have seen the good results in the participants’ bodies and their numbers. They’ve happily reported better numbers when getting blood work done to check cholesterol and other clinical guidelines. And they feel and look better, too.

Please note that while some of these phytonutrients are available in supplements, the health benefits are better delivered through whole-food consumption.

 The following list highlights the many benefits of plants:

Apples: Flavonoids — protect against cancer, lower cholesterol.

Beans: Flavonoids (saponins) — protect against cancer, lower cholesterol.

Berries: Ellagic acid — Prevent abnormal cellular changes that can lead to cancer.

Broccoli: Indoles, isothiocyanates — protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Beta-carotene — works as an antioxidant.

Carrots and sweet potatoes: Citrusfruits: Falvonoids (limonene) — Antioxidant, inhibit tumor formation, decrease inflammation.

Flaxseed: Isoflavones — protect against cancer, lower cholesterol.

Garlic and onions: Allium (allyl sulfides) — protect against certain cancers and heart disease, boost the immune system.

Grains: Isoflavones — proctect against cancer, lower cholesterol.

Red grapes (and wine) and tea:  Flavonoids (quercitin) — protect against cancer and heart disease.

Soy (soy beans): Isoflavones — protect against cancer and heart disease, strengthen bones.

Tomatoes: Flavonoids — protect against cancer, fight infection.

Zucchini: Lutein and Zeaxanthin — helps protect vision and lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.



Zucchini breakfast casserole

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the low-fat ricotta and beat until smooth. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, salt and pepper.

Prepare the vegetables and bread. Once you chop the tomatoes, remove excess moisture out of them by wrapping in paper towels and squeezing. Add the tomatoes, basil, and zucchini to the egg mixture. Mix the bread cubes into the egg mixture.

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the egg vegetable mixture into the baking pan and even it out in the pn. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. The casserole should puff up and brown lightly. If it hasn't after 30 minutes at 350, increase the heat to 425° and cook for 5-10 minutes further. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

Makes 6 to 8 portions.