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November 09, 2012

Best Foods for Your Entire Body

Body-friendly foods

You love it when the mercury dips low enough for you to break out your knee-high boots and sexy tights. But there's nothing fun about chapped lips, lingering fatigue, and other cold-weather bummers.
Cut them all off at the pass by filling your shopping cart with foods that will fight for your right to look and feel amazing. Researchers agree that these edibles have healing powers that can help keep you in top shape, inside and out. Start noshing on them now and your body will never suspect that it's winter.

Your Eyes

Scramble: Whole eggs
Forgo egg-white omelets. The yolks are an all-star source of two antioxidants--lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that fight cataracts as well as macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. Don't worry: University of Massachusetts researchers have concluded that eating an average of one egg yolk a day will not hurt your cholesterol levels.
Steam: Orange cauliflower
Yes, that really is orange cauliflower popping up in your produce aisle. Food scientists at Cornell University reworked the white variety to provide 25 times as much beta-carotene, which maintains the protective covering over the cornea. As with any low-cal vegetable, you can enjoy peachy cauliflower with reckless abandon, provided you don't drown it in salt and fat-laden butter.

Your Brain

Surf for: Arctic char
This cold-water fish is a great source of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, which can improve brain function and ward off the blues, says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Age-Proof Your Body. Omega-3s help squelch inflammation in the brain and regulate feel-good neurotransmitters. Sprinkle fillets with sea salt, ground pepper, and fresh lemon juice, then pan-fry on medium-high until one side is slightly brown. Flip and cook until the inside is slightly pink (6 to 8 minutes total).
Saute: Kale
Feed the 100 billion neurons in your noggin with nutritious kale. A study in the journal Neurology reports that getting two-plus servings per day of veggies--especially leafy green ones like kale--slows cognitive decline by 40 percent. Temper kale's bitter flavor by sautéing it lightly with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, a chopped garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, and a pinch of salt.

Your Nose

Nosh: Sunflower seeds
Hay fever affects more than 40 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Halt the drip with vitamin E. Researchers suspect it calms the parts of your immune system involved in allergies. With 49 percent of your daily vitamin E needs in an ounce, these seeds are your shnoz's best friend.

Your Hair

Spoon Up: Low-fat cottage cheese
Hair is almost all protein, so attaining a strong, vibrant mane starts with eating enough of it. Reduced-fat cottage cheese is a protein heavyweight, with 14 grams in half a cup.
Pack: Pumpkin seeds
Zinc helps reduce shedding, says Francesca Fusco, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center. Toss a tablespoon of these zinc-heavy seeds into your cereal.

Your Skin

Simmer: Tomatoes
Cozy up to your nearest Italian eatery. The fruit is especially beneficial when cooked--more of the carotenoid lycopene makes it into the skin, where it can limit UV damage to lower skin-cancer risk and hold off wrinkles.
Experiment with: Hemp
The omega-3 fatty acids in hemp help your skin retain moisture so you don't look like a cast member from Dawn of the Dead. Toss a tablespoon each of lemon juice, pine nuts, and shelled hemp seeds ($9 for 8 oz, manitobaharvest.com) into a blender with a cup of hemp-seed oil ($10 for 8 oz, manitobaharvest.com), a chopped garlic clove, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup fresh basil. Whirl to create a delicious and healthy pesto.

Your Lips

Munch On: Walnuts
To get moist, beautiful, chap-free lips, your body needs to constantly replace old skin cells with new ones. "Omega-3 fats help regulate this turnover so that it happens all the time," Fusco says. And unlike much-lauded almonds, walnuts have tons of the phat fats. So do your lips a favor and pucker up to an ounce (about 14 shelled halves) a day; eat them plain or add them to salads, cereal, oatmeal, trail mix, or your favorite muffin recipe.

Your Nails

Grill up: Beef
Of all the sources of highly absorbable iron in your supermarket, beef is among the best. Low iron levels, which are common in women, not only zap your zip, but, Fusco says, can cause brittle nails. With the least fat of the common cuts, top round (and other round cuts) deserve high billing on your broiler pan.


Your Heart

Snap Up: Asparagus
Italian researchers have found that the B vitamin folate reduces homocysteine, an amino acid believed to promote inflammation, which can up your risk of heart disease. Eight steamed asparagus spears deliver 20 percent of your daily folate requirement, as well as other heart-chummy nutrients like potassium.
Sip: Purple grape juice
Pull over, OJ! According to researchers at the University of Glasgow, purple grape juice is high in phenolics, "a group of powerful antioxidants that swallow up heart-damaging free radicals," says Anne VanBeber, R.D., Ph.D., a nutrition professor at Texas Christian University. To cut calories while guarding your arteries, mix equal parts grape juice and seltzer.

Your Gut

Reach for: Dried plums, aka Prunes
These high-fiber fruits help keep your gastric system working like a finely tuned machine. They may shrink your stomach, too. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that among 74,000 women surveyed, those who got more fiber were 49 percent less likely to suffer weight gain. Make your own trail mix with a handful of chopped pitted prunes plus walnuts, pumpkin seeds, dried blueberries, and hemp seeds
Toss in: Tempeh
Made from whole soybeans that are then fermented, tempeh pads our guts with beneficial bacteria. After taking up residence, VanBeber says, these live microorganisms improve digestion, reduce gas production, and kill bacteria that cause ulcers. Like tofu, tempeh soaks up the flavors around it, so crumble a block and toss it into chili, soup, and pasta sauce.

Your Muscles & Joints

Mix in: Ricotta cheese
Loaded with all of the amino acids muscles need to grow and mend, whey protein is a virtuoso when it comes to helping you build a buff bod. While milk curd is used to make most cheeses, ricotta is produced from the whey that's left behind in the cheese-making process. Mix low-fat ricotta with scrambled eggs, salsa, and broccoli sprouts for a killer breakfast.
Drizzle: Extra-virgin olive oil
Ditch fat-free dressings. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, an anti-inflammatory that may work like ibuprofen, report scientists in the journal Nature. Drizzle two teaspoons of Spectrum organic extra-virgin ($12 for 12.7 oz, spectrumorganics.com) onto your veggies.

Your Bones

Indulge in: Chocolate
Chocolate is rich in magnesium, vital to bone health. "It forms the crystal lattice that gives bone its structure," VanBeber says. That may be why University of Tennessee scientists linked higher mag intake with greater bone-mineral density. Nibble an ounce of the dark stuff each day.
Open up: Canned salmon
New research suggests that the omega-3s in these fatty swimmers can boost bone density. Canned salmon is inexpensive and typically lower in heavy metals like mercury than many other fish. "Canned salmon [with bones] is also a good source of calcium--another bone must," Somer says. For a better burger, make patties with a tin of salmon, an egg, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder.

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