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Fact sheet

Seaweed, nuts, berries, cabbage and garlic… all hail the superfoods!

Superfoods are foods known for their ability to regulate intestinal absorption, body pH or oxidative stress, their established health benefits or their exceptional trace element content. They are very diverse and, contrary to popular belief, easy to find. Won’t you have a second serving of those anti-aging delights?

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Nuts

There are many types of nuts and not all of them are super foods. They are mostly rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, the famous omegas, as well as in polysterols, homologues of cholesterol. This puts them at the top of the list in the fight against cholesterol[1], cardiovascular disease[2] and diabetes[3]. They would also have a beneficial effect on biliary problems[4] and improve the aftermath of cancer, especially colon cancer[5]. In addition to their good lipid content, these super foods have one of the highest levels of trace elements and vitamins, with a champion all categories, cashew nuts that contains magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, selenium, vitamin B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, E and K. It is closely followed by Brazil nuts, which alone can cover our daily needs in selenium, a major antioxidant and anti-aging trace element, which works together with vitamin E, also very present in Brazil nuts. In terms of oxidative stress, however, they are replaced by walnuts, the second food richest in antioxidants[6] and pecan nuts, whose phenolic content is simply through the roof[7]. Walnuts also have a higher protein composition in arginine, providing anti-aggregating and anti-cholesterol-lowering characteristics, both protective of the cardiovascular system[2, 8].

A good trick is to mix nuts, to get a daily serving of 20 to 40 g, and bring you all the benefits of these super foods. You can also use walnut oil, either as a condiment or for topical application. Indeed, it presents interesting characteristics for the fight against skin aging and healing. Finally, don’t be afraid, despite their high fat content, no studies have shown that a reasonable daily intake of nuts causes weight gain[9].

Cabbage, seaweed and other sprouts

It’s not new, vegetables are good for your health. But what about green super foods? It is a whole family that usually contains several natural active substances: carotenoids, antioxidants, enzymes, proteins, vitamins and minerals. They are also very low in fat and high in fibre, a life-saving combo for our digestive and cardiovascular systems. Among them are algae, especially spirulina, kombu, wakame, nori or sea lettuce, whose antioxidant content is exceptional[10]. Algae are also rich in fibers (for digestion), calcium (for bones), iodine (for the thyroid) and phytosterols (against cholesterol). These super foods seem to be able to help fight cancer and potentiate the action of chemotherapies[11]. While nori and spirulina are relatively easy to find, other algae are often used as a powder to add to salads or mix with water.

Young shoots are another type of super green food, with antioxidants, vitamins and trace elements similar to algae, although without iodine. These include rocket, spinach and watercress, all very rich in carotenoids and flavonoids, powerful antioxidants, which partly explains their beneficial effects on cancer and cardiovascular diseases[12, 13, 14]. In addition to these actions, these three young shoots have a high concentration of vitamins A, C and K, iron, magnesium and manganese.

Finally, we must take an interest in cabbages and similar products, particularly kale, Chinese cabbage and artichokes. Kale is the star of organic shops, because a single 100g serving covers the daily needs of vitamin A, C and K ! It is a major antioxidant, which seems to have a protective effect on cancer[15]. As for artichoke, it is highly appreciated for intestinal, hepatic and biliary well-being[16] and its role in regulating cholesterol[17]. Finally, Chinese cabbage and white cabbage are cruciferous and, when included in a balanced diet, help reduce cardiovascular risk[18].

Seeds and berries

Data on berries, notably goji berries, cranberries or acai berries, are often contradictory and sometimes leave room for doubt as to their anti-aging capacity. One thing is certain, no effect on weight loss has been scientifically proven, an important characteristic in the fight against aging, since fat mass, especially abdominal fat, is an indicator of longevity[19]. However, these berries are rich in good lipids, proteins and especially, in antioxidants. A few rare studies have examined their effects in cancer and inflammation, with conclusive and mixed in vivo results[20, 21]. Blueberries, on the other hand, are worthy of the name superfoods, especially in terms of aging and associated pathologies. Due to their extremely high antioxidant content, they have a protective effect against diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s[22, 23].

As far as seeds are concerned, sunflower seeds are the top superfood. They are indeed very rich in trace elements, sterols and fibres, placing them almost on an equal footing with algae in terms of daily intake. Sunflower seeds are also full of antioxidants which, being rich in omega 6, contribute to the fight against hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular risks associated with age[24]. They can be eaten plain, roasted, sprouted (increases the lysine and tryptophan content) or in the form of oil.

A few standalone superfoods

Beetroot is one of the few plants containing betalains, the pigments that give it its distinctive purplish red color. It turns out that these elements are powerful antioxidants and that their bioavailability is better than most of their counterparts[25]. It is also rich in flavonoids, carotenoids and phenols, exceeding spinach. Several studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in preventing oxidative stress and macular degeneration[26], as well as increasing sports performance[27]. The pomegranate, once again, is beneficial because of its richness in antioxidants. It is anti-inflammatory[28], anti-bacterial[29] and anti-viral[30], rich in vitamins and copper. Through its antioxidant action, it helps fight against cancer and oxidation of circulating lipids.

Garlic has been recognized for hundreds of years as an effective anti-infective, especially for intestinal parasites, dental problems and respiratory diseases. It has recently been shown to play a role in reducing hypertension[31] and atherosclerosis[32], thereby reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease during aging. To change vegetables, cocoa can also be mentioned as a super food. In addition to being full of fiber, sometimes more than certain vegetables, it is rich in antioxidants, thus limiting the occurrence of cholesterol, dilating blood vessels and improving coagulation[33]. It also has a high magnesium content and tryptophan in significant amounts. This tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that, in addition to protecting us from depression, has a beneficial effect on the health of our brain. You have to admit that it’s always nice to eat chocolate!

At the end of the day, a balanced diet is obviously important for healthy aging. If you also add a dose of superfoods to your diet, it’s your shelf life that could be extended!

  • Number of publications: over 5000
  • Availability: over-the-counter
  • Route: as you like it
  • Dosage: it depends. There are powders that mix the different super foods (especially seaweed), generally 3 tablespoons per day are recommended. For nuts and seeds, portions of 30 g / day are usual. For vegetables, it’s all you can eat. For berries, literature generally uses portions of 100-200 g / day. For chocolate, limit yourself to 2-3 squares per day (or suffer a very high calory intake!)

No adverse effects are associated with a diet rich in superfoods. On the other hand, attention should be paid to frequent allergies, especially in the case of nuts such as walnuts.

Be careful not to keep the shelled nuts too long in the open air, they quickly become rancid. To preserve them, keep them in their shells (up to 9 months), or peeled in the fridge (up to 1 month) or in the freezer (up to 2 years).

Be careful to check the content of trace elements and vitamins if you buy supplements in powder form. Dehydration can alter their properties.

And above all, don’t hesitate to indulge with innovative recipes or juices full of good things. The recipe apple-kale-cresson-spirulin or beetroot-blueberry-pineapple-acai and/or goji are delicious drinks that will bring you all the benefits of these super foods. Be careful however to use a cold pressure (extractor rather than a blender or a centrifuge) which makes it possible to keep all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

[1] Mukuddem-Petersen J, Oosthuizen W, Jerling JC. A systematic review of the effects of nuts on blood lipid profiles in humans. J Nutr 2005;135(9):2082-9

[2] Feldman EB. The scientific evidence for a beneficial health relationship between walnuts and coronary heart disease. J Nutr 2002;132(5):1062S-101S

[3] Lovejoy JC. The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk. Curr Diab Rep 2005;5(5):379-84

[4] Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, et al. A prospective cohort study of nut consumption and the risk of gallstone disease in men. Am J Epidemiol 2004 15;160(10):961-8

[5] Jenab M, Ferrari P, et al. Association of nut and seed intake with colorectal cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13(10):1595-603

[6] Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al. A systematic screening of total antioxidants in dietary plants. J Nutr 2002;132(3):461-71

[7] Alasalvar C, Bolling BW. Review of nut phytochemicals, fat-soluble bioactives, antioxidant components and health effects. Br J Nutr. 2015;113Suppl 2:S68-78

[8] Strahan TM. Nuts for cardiovascular protection. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13:S33

[9] Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(3 Suppl):647S-50S

[10] Rocha de Souza MC, Teixeira Marques C et al. Antioxidant activities of sulfated polysaccharies from brown and red seaweeds. National Institute of Health. 2007; 19(2):153-160

[11] Hosokawa M, Kudo M, et al. Fucoxanthin induces apoptosis and enhances the antiproliferative effect of the PPARgamma ligand, troglitazone, on colon cancer cells. Biochim Biophys Acta 2004;1675(1-3):113-9

[12] Stahl W, Sies H. Bioactivity and protective effects of natural carotenoids. Biochim Biophys Acta 2005;1740(2):101-7

[13] Boyd LA, McCann MJ, et al. Assessment of the anti-genotoxic, anti-proliferative, and anti-metastatic potential of crude watercress extract in human colon cancer cells. Nutr Cancer 2006;55(2):232-41

[14] Bazzano LA, Serdula MK, Liu S. Dietary intake of fruits and vegetables and risk of cardiovascular disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep 2003;5(6):492-9

[15] Lampe JW, Peterson S. Brassica, biotransformation and cancer risk: genetic polymorphisms alter the preventive effects of cruciferous vegetables. J Nutr. 2002;132(10):2991-4

[16] Fintelmann V, Petrowicz O. Long-term administration of an artichoke extract for dyspepsia symptoms. Results of an observational study. Natura Med 1998; 13: 17-26

[17] Bundy R, Walker AF, et al. Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2008;15(9):668-75

[18] Ganji V, Kafai MR. Frequent consumption of milk, yogurt, cold breakfast cereals, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables and intakes of dietary folate and riboflavin but not vitamins B-12 and B-6 are inversely associated with serum total homocysteine concentrations in the US population. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(6):1500-7

[19] Koster A, Murphy RA, Eiriksdottir G, et al. Fat Distribution and Mortality: The AGES-Reykjavik Study. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md). 2015;23(4):893-897

[20] Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) Juice, GoChi. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14(4):403-12

[21] Del Pozo-Insfran D, Percival SS, Talcott ST. Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(4):1222-9

[22] Bell L, Lamport DJ, Butler LT, Williams CM. A study of glycaemic effects following acute anthocyanin-rich blueberry supplementation in healthy young adults. Food Funct. 2017;8(9):3104-3110

[23] Wang S, Cu Y, Wang C, et al. Protective Effects of Dietary Supplementation with a Combination of Nutrients in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(11):e0143135

[24] Binkoski AE, Kris-Etherton PM, et al. Balance of unsaturated fatty acids is important to a cholesterol-lowering diet: comparison of mid-oleic sunflower oil and olive oil on cardiovascular disease risk factors. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105(7):1080-6

[25] Frank T, Stintzing FC, et al. Urinary pharmacokinetics of betalains following consumption of red beet juice in healthy humans. Pharmacol Res 2005;52(4):290-7

[26] Ma L., Lin X.-M. Effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on aspects of eye health. J Sci Food Agric 2010;90:2-12

[27] Muggeridge DJ, Howe CC, Spendiff O, Pedlar C, James PE, Easton C. A single dose of beetroot juice enhances cycling performance in simulated altitude. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(1):143-50

[28] Shukla M, Gupta K, et al. Consumption of hydrolyzable tannins-rich pomegranate extract suppresses inflammation and joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis. Nutrition 2008;24:733-43

[29] Braga LC, Shupp JW, et al. Pomegranate extract inhibits Staphylococcus aureus growth and subsequent enterotoxin production. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;96:335-9

[30] Kotwal GJ. Genetic diversity-independent neutralization of pandemic viruses (e.g. HIV), potentially pandemic (e.g. H5N1 strain of influenza) and carcinogenic (e.g. HBV and HCV) viruses and possible agents of bioterrorism (variola) by enveloped virus neutralizing compounds (EVNCs). Vaccine 2008;26:3055-8

[31] Ried K, Frank OR, et al. Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2008;8:13

[32] Rahman K, Lowe GM. Garlic and cardiovascular disease: a critical review.  J Nutr. 2006;136(3)

[33] Kerimi A, Williamson G. The cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate. Vascul Pharmacol. 2015;71:11-5

DISCLAIMER

The information on the present website does not constitute either directly or indirectly any medical advice. The provided information is intended to inform and is in no way a substitute for the direct relationship between a patient and a health professional. Under no circumstances the information on the website are likely to make up for consulting, visiting and diagnosis by a licensed healthcare professional. Said information should not be interpreted as ensuring the promotion any some molecules or medical products.

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Long Long Life does not guarantee by any means any result following the implementation of the published information on the website herein.

Self-medication can be dangerous for your health, please seek medical advice before starting any treatment.

Dr. Marion Tible

Marion Tible Long Long Life

Author/Reviewer

Auteure/Relectrice

Marion Tible has a PhD in cellular biology and physiopathology. Formerly a researcher in thematics varying from cardiology to neurodegenerative diseases, she is now part of Long Long Life team and is involved in scientific writing and anti-aging research.

More about the Long Long Life team

Marion Tible est docteur en biologie cellulaire et physiopathologie. Ancienne chercheuse dans des thématiques oscillant de la cardiologie aux maladies neurodégénératives, elle est aujourd’hui impliquée au sein de Long Long Life pour la rédaction scientifique et la recherche contre le vieillissement.

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