One study on animals shows it may stop cancer cells from growing specifically in the lungs.1
The bulbs of Leeks are widely used in Brazil for treating inflammation in the stomach or gut and when the bulb is crushed, it may help treat colds and sore throats if it is taken at or before the cough begins. It is also helpful for sore throats. As a juice, it may help with digestion and possibly IBS.2,3
- Shao J, Dai J, Ma J. A pilot study on anticancer activities of Chinese leek. Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.) [serial online]. October 2001;7(5):517-522.
- Adão C, da Silva B, Parente J. A new steroidal saponin with antiinflammatory and antiulcerogenic properties from the bulbs of Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum. Fitoterapia [serial online]. December 2011;82(8):1175-1180.
- Agrawal, P.K. Spectral assignments and reference data—25R/25S stereochemistry of spirostane-type steroidal sapogenins and steroidal saponins via chemical shift of geminal protons of ring-F. Magn. Res. Chem. 41, 965–968.
Although lettuce may not have a whole lot of antioxidants to boast about, the ones that it does have are fairly strong.1 Romaine lettuce is high in vitamin A which is good for the skin and new skin growth. 6 leaves of Romaine lettuce in your salad will give you your full daily dose of vitamin A. 2
- Caldwell C. Alkylperoxyl radical scavenging activity of red leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) phenolics. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry [serial online]. July 30, 2003;51(16):4589-4595.
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Studies are beginning to find that black Maca may help with learning and with memory impairment and looks promising as a future natural treatment for diseases like Alzheimer’s.1
Like Tomatoes or Aloe, it can also help protect the skin from the damaging effects of UVB rays from the sun. Red Maca may provide the best results since it also best protected the liver from the toxins produced in the body from sunburns in one study done on animals. 2
Traditionally, Maca has been used to help increase endurance, help cure erectile dysfunction and to treat hormonal imbalances in females. These results were even mirrored in one study done on rats.3
- Gasco M, Gonzales G. Dose-response effect of black maca (Lepidium meyenii) in mice with memory impairment induced by ethanol. Toxicology Mechanisms And Methods [serial online]. October 2011;21(8):628-634.
- Gonzales-Castañeda C, Rivera V, Chirinos A, Evelson P, Gonzales G. Photoprotection against the UVB-induced oxidative stress and epidermal damage in mice using leaves of three different varieties of Lepidium meyenii (maca). International Journal Of Dermatology [serial online]. August 2011;50(8):928-938.
- Pizza C. Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia [serial online]. June 2002;34(3):177-179.
This may be one of the healthiest foods on the planet, active against pretty much anything from vitamin deficiencies to cancer.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin for regulating mood, food and sleep. Mushrooms contain plenty of Vitamin D and can really help balance out any deficiencies with sleep, hunger or your overall mood. If you are depressed, mushrooms may help alleviate the problem if it is due to a lack of Vitamin D in your system plus it may help those with Seasonal Awareness Disorder (SAD) as well. 1 Cup of mushrooms provides 100% of the RDA for Vitamin D and a good portion of your RDA of selenium.1
Concerning cancer, Mushrooms may be one of the most effective cancer fighters in the world. On top of that they only have about 100 calories per cup. Many studies done on Mushrooms show that they contain very powerful compounds that have been shown to stop cancerous tumor growths.1 One study from China showed that women who ate at least 10 grams of mushrooms per day reduced their chances of getting breast cancer by 64%.8 What may be responsible for this is its ability to block estrogen production. Most if not all mushrooms have this effect.
As an immune system enhancer few foods can match mushrooms. They have been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years as a medicine that enhances the immune system by providing vitamins and minerals, cleaning out the liver and kill bacteria, viruses and parasites. In Western medicine it has been recommended for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. If you have HIV or AIDS you can also benefit from the powerful immune boosting quality of mushrooms too.
When combine with Green Tea it may provide additional health benefits (You don’t have to have them at the same time just part of your regular diet).2,3,4 Mushrooms have been used to treat all kinds of illnesses because they do not have any known side effects and can be eaten regularly. However, if you have never had mushrooms before you should try a little bite first to see if you have any negative reaction.
White (Common/White Button) Mushrooms
These are edible common mushrooms. These mushrooms also have the ability to block estrogen production in women, which makes it, along with the other mushrooms, a powerful fighter of breast cancer.
Along with the health benefits of Mushrooms, Button mushrooms are a rich source of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA’s), which are a group of good fatty acids that help burn off body fat and increase lean body mass. Eat a ½ cup every other day.1
These mushrooms can also help men because they help stop the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
This mushroom has been used for thousands of years to support and enhance the immune system and fight cancer. It can kill candida yeasts and is great as a treatment for staph infections and strep as well as the flu. It has been used to help fight chronic fatigue as well. You can add some to any soup and let it sit for about 30 minutes or so since our bodies can’t digest mushrooms well unless they’ve been cooked or exposed to cooking temperatures.
Crimini Mushrooms (Baby Portabello mushrooms)
Another type of Button mushroom. They are great for weight loss and an excellent substitute for ground beef and they are full of fiber.1
Maitake Mushrooms have a nutty, woodsy flavor that’s perfect for soups and side dishes. They contain a powerful antioxidant called ergophinine, which can protect cells from damage and breast cancer. They may also be the strongest enhancer of the immune system compared to the other mushrooms. They also have plenty of potassium, which is great for heart health and reducing the risk for heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. 1
King Trumpet Mushroom (King Oyster Mushroom)
These Mushrooms help boost the immune system and it has very strong antioxidants and beta glucans. Eat one handful 2x per week. Great when stir-fried with onions and garlic and lemon.1,5
Reishi Mushrooms (Lingzhi Mushroom)
These mushrooms are powerful cancer fighters and can help boost your immune system. It’s a strong antibacterial, antiviral and antiparasitic food. It also lowers your blood pressure and boosts your immune system, which makes it great for those with weak immune systems and for those dealing with chemotherapy or those with HIV. They also have the ability to help clean clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lower your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack or stroke. When buying them at stores get the ones that say “extract” on the package. Eat them daily to get the most out of the health benefits.6
Note: Mushrooms are not a vegetable but a fungus but we tend to use them (i.e cook them) like we do vegetables. That’s why they’re listed in this section.
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- Endo M, Beppu H, Akiyama H, et al. Agaritine purified from Agaricus blazei Murrill exerts anti-tumor activity against leukemic cells. Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta [serial online]. July 2010;1800(7):669-673.
- Ferreira I, Vaz J, Vasconcelos M, Martins A. Compounds from wild mushrooms with antitumor potential. Anti-Cancer Agents In Medicinal Chemistry [serial online]. June 1, 2010;10(5):424-436.
- Zhang M, Huang J, Xie X, Holman C. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. International Journal Of Cancer. Journal International Du Cancer [serial online]. March 15, 2009;124(6):1404-1408.
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Mustard Greens ★
Mustard Greens are a popular food in Greece. It is high in Vitamin K and its good for improving your blood and bones.1 It is full of antioxidants. It is an excellent source of carotenes, vitamin C, folic acid, manganese, vitamin E, copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and calcium and a very good source of phosphorus, vitamin B2, potassium, magnesium, protein, vitamin B1, and iron.2
Also, Mustard Greens may help lower your cholesterol by up to 20%. Hear more about it Here. Eat either 1 cup of raw or ½ cup of cooked greens per day to get the benefits.
Note: In Greece, 1 in 3 people live to the age of 90 and there are no reported cases of Alzheimer’s disease there. Another popular vegetable in Greece is Fennel.
Onions and Garlic are very close cousins in the Allium family. Some other members of this family include Shallots, Leeks and Scallions. The members of this family are very powerful cancer fighters. They have been shown to stop cancer growth in the stomach, colon, brain, lung, prostate and breast.7
Onions can help the body absorb iron and zinc from foods that its eaten with.1 Because of this it may help increase bone density in pre and postmenopausal women. This is especially helpful for White and Asian women, who tend to have lower bone densities than women of African American or Hispanic descent.2 The effect may possibly be enhanced when onions are eaten with herbs that have certain essential oils like sage, rosemary and thyme.3
Onions are also a very strong anti inflammatory because they have a flavaoid called quercetin. Quercetin can improve brain function and can also lower blood pressure and the risks for developing atherosclerosis or having a stroke.5 Interestingly enough, the onion’s skin contains even more quercetin than the part we usually eat. You can simmer the onion with the skin in a soup and then throw away the skin before eating. Cooking onions releases even more of the quercetin from them but cooking for more than five minutes will begin to break down its nutrients. Red and yellow onions have more flavanoids than white ones.4 It turns out that a combination of flavanoids and quercetin can really help reduce your risk of heart disease because the combination helps keep your arteries healthy while helping to normalize your blood pressure. Apples are a great source of quercetin also.
Onions also contain kaempferol, which has been shown to lower the risk for ovarian cancer.6 In this case, eating the onion raw or lightly cooked is best since kaempferol breaks down easily.
These vegetables are a great source of prebiotics. They help boost your immune system by firing up the good bacteria in your gut so they produce more immune boosting compounds for your body.
These Onions are great at lowering your LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
- Gautam S, Platel K, Srinivasan K. Higher bioaccessibility of iron and zinc from food grains in the presence of garlic and onion. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry [serial online]. July 28, 2010;58(14):8426-8429.
- Matheson E, Mainous A, Carnemolla M. The association between onion consumption and bone density in perimenopausal and postmenopausal non-Hispanic white women 50 years and older. Menopause (New York, N.Y.) [serial online]. July 2009;16(4):756-759.
- Bicknell K, Priestley C, Williamson E. Natural products as alternative treatments for metabolic bone disorders and for maintenance of bone health. Phytotherapy Research: PTR [serial online]. February 2007;21(2):99-112
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Parsley contains isothiocyanides, which can help fight off ovarian cancer. They may have the ability to prevent heart attacks and high blood pressure by helping your body get rid of excess salt so if you eat something with a lot of salt add some parsley to it. Add about 10 sprigs or 2 tablespoons. Eating 1 cup of raw or ½ cup per week can help you reap the full benefits. Remember to chew a lot to release as much of the antioxidants as possible.1
Parsley can help protect your vision because it contains luteolin (like Peppers) and it may help protect your eyes from UV radiation. It can also help protect against glycation, which damages the retina. A remedy for this is to blend Celery, Peppermint and Parsley together with water or some juice and drink a cup or so of it each day.2
Peas/String Beans/Green Beans/Wax Beans
String beans and Green beans are the same thing. They can come in green or yellow varieties. Peas are the little pods from the inside of the bean. String beans are low on the glycemic index mainly because of their high fiber, protein content. It’s a very good for lowering cholesterol and the antioxidants make it a good anti inflammatory food. The fiber in string beans can act like a prebiotic, meaning it can boost the healthy bacteria in your gut. The seed coat seems to contain a majority of the healthy nutrients.
- Dahl W, Foster L, Tyler R. Review of the health benefits of peas (Pisum sativum L.). The British Journal Of Nutrition [serial online]. August 2012;108 Suppl 1:S3-S10.
Potatoes have been shown, in a study done on animals, to reduce inflammation in the colon and may help strengthen the colon walls, which means that it may be effective at reducing colon cancer and inflammatory diseases in the colon.1
Purple potatoes have as much antioxidants as Brussels Sprouts, Kale or Spinach. These potatoes are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and iron. 2
Those who have or are at risk for developing diabetes should steer clear of potatoes, especially baked potatoes, because they are high on the glycemic index.
- Nofrarías M, Martínez-Puig D, Pujols J, Majó N, Pérez J. Long-term intake of resistant starch improves colonic mucosal integrity and reduces gut apoptosis and blood immune cells. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) [serial online]. November 2007;23(11-12):861-870.
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This plant is considered a weed in the U.S. It can grow as a wild plant but it is also cultivated. Purslane may be the best source of Omega 3’s in plants that grow on land. It has a high amount of ALA omega 3’s but it also contains a small amount (0.01 mg/g) of EPA omega 3. Although small, it is one of the highest amounts of this type of omega 3 in any land based plant. This is important because the average ratio of omega 6 to omega 3’s of people in the U.S can be as high as 20:1. High amounts of omega 6 can promote inflammation and increase your risk for heart disease as well as a host of other diseases.
Our ancestors had omega 6 to omega 3 ratios of 1:1. They ate a variety of seafood and many wild plants. Purslane was most likely one of these plants that was commonly eaten wherever it grew naturally.
Purslane is also high in Vitamins C, E and beta-carotene (pro vitamin A). It’s also very high in melatonin, a hormone that’s central to our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles. Purslane is also very high in an antioxidant called glutathione. Most, if not all of our cells make glutathione, which protects us from the harmful effects of free radicals. It specifically protects us from peroxides that can form in our body. In a study done by the National cancer Institute, only Avocados and Asparagus, out of 98 common healthy foods, had more glutathione than Purslane.
This plant is more common in the Pacific Northwest but it grows virtually everywhere and can easily grow in your garden. It has a sour/salty taste and it can be eaten raw or stir-fried.
1. Simopoulos, Artemis P., et al. “Purslane: a plant source of omega‐3 fatty acids and melatonin.” Journal of pineal research 39.3 (2005): 331-332.
2. Simopoulos A. Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in edible wild plants. Biological Research [serial online]. 2004;37(2):263-277.