There are foods and then there are Super Hero Foods. As you might have guessed, we want as many of the Super Heroes in our diet as possible. All this month we’ll take a look at some of the most super-duper foods for you plus provide recipes to make eating them as easy as possible.
What’s a Super Hero Food?
In my book, a Super Hero Food is one that goes above and beyond the call of duty. So many foods are healthy, but Super Heroes are nutritional powerhouses. This means they play an active role in your health, helping to prevent diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes; or helping you effectively manage existing disease.
Eat your broccoli (and cauliflower and cabbage and Brussels sprouts)
Mom was right: broccoli is incredibly good for you. So are its relatives in the the cruciferous family: cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. These veggies are great cancer preventers.
Researchers studying the compounds in these vegetables have found that there seems to be a two-pronged benefit: they work to prevent cancer from happening and also enhance survival after a cancer diagnosis. I want that player on my team!
Researchers have studied and continue to study the specific phytochemicals present in cruciferous vegetables. What they’re finding is incredible:
- they help the body get rid of toxic chemicals and carcinogenic compounds
- they’ve been shown to stop the growth of cancer cells
- they can have a direct impact on the way the body breaks down estrogen, which is important when we’re talking about hormone-dependent cancers such as breast cancer
Different phytochemicals have different effects, which is why it’s so important to eat a variety of different vegetables. So far, it seems that it isn’t any one specific compound in the vegetables, so this is a great example of how nature created a perfect little package of health for us to enjoy.
The list of these all-stars includes:
Arugula Bok choy
Broccoli Brussels sprouts
Collard greens Horseradish
Mustard greens Radishes
Rutabaga Turnip greens
Any of your favorites on there? Try this easy recipe for Cream of Broccoli Soup and I guarantee you’ll happily slurp your broccoli. Bonus: the onions are also cancer-fighting powerhouses.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Makes about 2 quarts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
1 medium onion, chopped 1½ cups evaporated skim milk
2 bay leaves ¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper
1½ pounds frozen broccoli florets
Heat oil in large stock pot. Sauté onion and bay leaves until onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli and sauté for 1 minute.
Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until broccoli is tender and still bright green, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly, and remove bay leaves.
Using a stick blender or a regular blender, carefully purée mixture until smooth. Stir in evaporated milk and season with salt & pepper. Reheat over medium heat until hot through and serve.
Cooking these vegetables can release a sulfur-like smell. Before you turn up your nose, try roasting any of them, including the cabbage (click here for specific instructions). Roasting enhances the vegetables’ natural sugars and mellows the flavor.
Tune in next week as we explore other Super Hero Foods that will tempt your taste buds and enhance your health.