by Dr. Kristen Bovee – Peninsula Naturopathic Clinic, Hydrate IV Wellness Centre –
As the season comes quickly upon us plans for festive cooking also come to mind. As a naturopathic doctor I am always looking for foods that are not only delicious but also pack a punch when it comes to health and healing. The following are three functional foods that have been used extensively in natural medicine but are also fantastic ingredients to use in festive cooking.
Pomegranate. Pomegranate is a super food. Its claim to fame is the high levels of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, polyphenols and punicalagins it contains. Pomegranate has one of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) values of all fruits; at 10,500, they are even higher than blueberries. As a result of its high antioxidant status and fiber content they certainly have important health benefits. Current research has found that this tasty tart fruit may inhibit proliferation of prostate cancer cells, lower LDL (the bad one) cholesterol, and support circulation by improving nitric oxide production (which lowers blood pressure) and prevent clot formation (antiplatelet action). Given these amazing benefits and wonderful taste, pomegranates are definitely worth taking the time to peel and enjoy!
Cranberries. As most of us are aware, cranberries are a natural remedy for urinary tract health; they also have many other benefits you may not have known about. Cranberries are one of the lowest sugar-containing fruits and are high in prebiotic fiber. This makes them an excellent choice of fruit for blood sugar control and supporting the digestive tract. They are high in vitamin C, polyphenols and anthocyanidins that aid the immune system, protect our cells from DNA damage (cancer prevention), and lower cholesterol, respectively. In regards to urinary tract health, cranberry has been extensively studied to show that the high levels of its proanthocyanidins (PACs) may help prevent bacteria, particularly E.coli, from being able to adhere to the urinary tract wall. It has also been shown to benefit oral health by inhibiting the adherence and growth of bacteria in the oral cavity. It’s no wonder we all look forward to this tasty fruit as a complement to turkey dinner.
Cinnamon. This warm wonderful spice has gained a significant amount of attention over the years for its health benefits. With the rise of type II diabetes in our modern society, ways of keeping blood sugars regulated are of high importance in research. A study in 2009 reported that 1 gram of cinnamon given to diabetics daily for three months showed a reduction of hemoglobin A1C levels better than “usual care management” approach (medication). It also appears to have an affect on preserving brain function. Certain antioxidants contained in cinnamon bark have shown to block the enzyme that is responsible for the build-up of tau proteins in Alzheimer’s disease. Cinnamon essential oil contains cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and linalool. These lovely smelling oils pack a punch when it comes to fighting bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. Its antibacterial activity makes it ideal in oral and digestive health.
These three functional foods are a pleasure to incorporate into our daily diets. Pomegranates can be added to just about any dessert; find a recipe at: https://www.occasionallyeggs.com/chocolate-orange-chia-parfait/.
A healthier recipe for cranberry sauce: https://www.momontimeout.com/best-ever-cranberry-sauce/
And a wonderful way to enjoy cinnamon: https://amyshealthybaking.com/easyrecipe-print/29070-0/
Hoping everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season!