Load up on 'superfoods'

PHOTO: Load up on 'superfoods'

It's been estimated that approximately one third of cancer deaths which occur in the United States each year is due to poor nutrition, excess weight and physical inactivity, according to the Malaysian Dietitians' Association senior clinical dietitian, Nurul Aziah Musa.

"Eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight is proven to reduce the risk of cancer. However, there's still no clear cause of cancer till today.

"There's no need to be extreme in everything. Believe in moderation when it comes to food consumption and bear in mind that you truly are what you eat."

Nurul Aziah says "superfoods" are known to be rich in nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which help fight diseases, improve health, increase immunity and lead to greater longevity.

"Berries are well known in the West as one of the best 'superfoods' as they contain antioxidants and phytonutrients, and are low in calories and high in fibre.

"Most Malaysians get disheartened when they see the price tag on these berries. But, berries can be replaced with affordable fruits that are rich in antioxidants such as plums, pomegranates, oranges, kiwis, apples and bananas."

Other than fruits, green leafy vegetables such as kailan, spinach and broccoli also provide similar health benefits.

"Although Malaysians include these 'superfoods' in their diet, the quantity is not enough. To reap the full benefits of fruits and vegetables, one needs two to three servings per day. One serving of fruit is equivalent to one banana, one medium orange and six strawberries. One serving of vegetable is equivalent to half a cup of cooked vegetables," says Nurul Aziah.

Eating fruits and vegetables of a variety of different colours ensures the best health benefits possible.

There's no "best diet" or "miracle diet" to help one live longer, Nurul stresses.

"It all depends on the portion and frequency of food consumed, and the method of preparation. Variety is the keyword here, meaning a balanced diet according to the recommended amounts.

"We also need to understand that diet is not the only contributing factor to longevity. Increasing physical activity and maintaining an ideal body weight plays an important role as well."