South American Super Foods

My Vegetarian Times magazine arrived in the mail today. I LOVE this magazine. Even if you are not a vegetarian (which I am not), you will love this magazine too.

In this month’s edition, the top six South American Super Foods are listed. “Super Foods” are rich in health-giving properties. They include:

  1. Papaya
  2. Coconut Oil
  3. Chile Peppers
  4. Quinoa
  5. Acai
  6. Chocolate

Papayas are rich in carotenoids, the orange plant pigments the body converts into Vitamin A. Papayas also contain 1.5 times the amount of Vitamin C we need in a day.

Coconut Oil used to be on the list of “bad oils” because of it’s saturated fat content. Research now shows that coconut oil does not raise cholesterol or fat levels and may actually help prevent chronic disease. Coconut oil also promotes a better balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol.

Chile Peppers tend to be associated with Mexican cuisine, but cultivation originated south of the equator. Chili peppers contain Capsaicin, the compound that gives them their heat. Capsaicin also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has been cultivated for more than 5000 years. It is unique because it contains eight essential amino acids and is a complete protein by itself. Studies also show that quinoa has high antioxidant activity, making it heart-healthy.

Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a berry-like fruit valued for it’s supreme antioxidant value. Most acai is available to us only in juice or pulp form and is rarely imported as a whole fruit. Choose pulp when you can as it retains the most antioxidant powers.

Chocolate has heart health benefits that include high flavonoid content (plant compounds with antioxidant activity) and may help lower blood pressure. The purer the cocoa source, the better the chocolate is for you.

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