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This Purple Food Has Been Found To Help Prevent Cancer

This Purple Food Has Been Found To Help Prevent Cancer

Some of you have probably never heard of a purple potato before. They’re widely used in South American cuisine, and have their origins in Bolivia and Peru. I urge you to go buy one just to see for yourself. These potatoes are really purple. I mean vivid, beautiful, outrageously purple. “And they beat cancer,” you ask? Yes. At least, that’s what recent research has shown. The experiment targeted colon cancer, so it’s unknown how effective purple potatoes are in treating other forms of cancer. But the research looks promising.

What’s in Purple Potatoes?

purple-potato
    (FlavorBoulevard)

    Researchers discovered several substances in the colorful root vegetable that function to kill cancer stem cells. Attacking stem cells is key, explains Jairam K.P. Vanamala at Penn State. Vanamala uses the analogy of the weed to explain the importance of getting at the stem cells. He says that, “you may cut the weed, but as long as the roots are still there, the weeds will keep growing back.” Like the roots of weeds, he elaborates, “if the cancer stem cells are still present, the cancer can still grow and spread.”

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    Anthocyanins, found in purple potatoes, belong to the flavonoid family of phytochemicals. They’re water-soluble pigments, the substances that give purple potatoes their color. Anthocyanins are found in flowers, fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains, giving them purple, red, and blue hues. Not just pretty, this flavonoid fights cancer at its root.

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    The resistant starch found in purple potatoes plays an important anti-cancer role too. It sustains the health of gut bacteria. In case you haven’t heard, gut bacteria is a hot topic in the health world right now. It’s getting a lot of attention for the wide impact it has on mood, cognitive function, immunity, and all kinds of diseases from Crohn’s disease to diabetes. The bacteria then converts resistant starch to short-chain fatty acids, which work to decrease inflammation, one of which is butyric acid. Resistant starch is present in white potatoes as well as purple. Chlorogenic acid is another anti-cancer agent, and is a chemical compound found in resistant starch. It’s received attention from another food source – the coffee bean.

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    Will It Make My Skin Turn Purple?

    No, your skin won’t turn purple! And you don’t think you have to eat an all-purple diet either. Anthocyanins from purple potatoes destroy colon cancer stem cells, but that’s just one type of cancer. Instead of focusing on one cancer, and one food, Vanamala recommends eating the rainbow when selecting vegetables and fruits. Eating plant sources in a variety of colors is important because, “instead of one compound, you have thousands of compounds, working on different pathways to suppress the growth of cancer stem cells.” We’ve heard this before – that we should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. So this isn’t really news. The salient information, though, is that variety isn’t just key for general health. Eating an assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables is smart because it helps combat cancer. Vanamala confirms that because “cancer is such a complex disease, a silver bullet approach is just not possible for most cancers.”

    How Do You Eat a Purple Potato?

    purple pie
      (Flickr/arndog)

      Purple potatoes are similar in texture to the plain-looking russet potato, so you can really use them in any potato dish. Bake them, mash them, but use some caution if you’re combining purple potatoes with other less colorful ingredients, especially if you’re cooking food to share.  If you’re making potato salad, for example, you’ll have an extremely colorful dish that may shock your guests. Do a quick online search and you’ll find tons of recipes. There are some creative cooks out there like Smitten Kitchen who create gorgeous purple potato dishes with other bold-colored ingredients. Check out her fork-crushed purple potato recipe and start fighting cancer with food today!

      Featured photo credit: photo by iris on flicker.com via flickr.com

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      12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

      12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

      Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

      But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

      I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

      Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

      1. Nuts

      The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

      Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

      Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

      Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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      2. Blueberries

      Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

      When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

      3. Tomatoes

      Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

      4. Broccoli

      While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

      Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

      Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

      5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

      Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

      The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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      Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

      6. Soy

      Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

      Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

      Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

      7. Dark chocolate

      When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

      Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

      15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

      8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

      Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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      B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

      Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

      Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

      To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

      9. Foods Rich in Zinc

      Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

      Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

      Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

      10. Gingko biloba

      This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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      It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

      However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

      11. Green and black tea

      Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

      Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

      Find out more about green tea here:

      11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

      12. Sage and Rosemary

      Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

      Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

      When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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