Foods for Ailments: A Doctor's Shopping List

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Foods that help prevent cancer

The expert: Clinical nutritionist Peggy Menzel, R.D., L.D., and her husband, oncologist Edward Creagan, M.D., nearly always do their food shopping together. Both are vegetarian.

A few of the things in their shopping cart:

  • Tomatoes: "They're loaded with lycopene, a type of antioxidant."
  • Carrots: "A great snack with zero fat."
  • Peanut butter: "We buy the natural kind, which is not hydrogenated. It's better for your heart."
  • Juice: "Look for one hundred percent juice, not juice cocktail, because there is no added sugar."
  • Shredded mozzarella: "Cheese is high in fat, so we use it in moderation."

The value of veggies: "A plant-based diet is of greatest value in decreasing the risk of cancer," says Creagan. "Best bets for cancer-fighting foods include vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains, legumes and other high-fiber, low-fat foods."

Her must-have food: "I eat at least one apple every day. They are rich in pectin (a soluble fiber) and also in flavonoids and polyphenols, which may protect against cell and tissue damage, cancer, cardiovascular disease and cataracts."

His top pick: "Bananas are one of the first things I put in the cart. They are high in fiber and potassium, and they're easy to carry for lunch or snacks."

Bread winner: "We buy bread that's very high in fiber -- one slice has three to five grams, so a single sandwich provides more fiber than many Americans get in a day. Generally speaking, you should aim for about thirty-five grams of fiber daily," says Menzel.

Smart food: "There is some evidence that the fatty content in fish may be a factor in retaining memory and mental sharpness," says Creagan.

His favorite vice: "Lime-flavored tortilla chips."

Her rationale: "At least they're lower in fat than potato chips. Fat-free pretzels, baked chips and low-fat microwave popcorn are other good snack choices."

Pill power: "I take one multivitamin, 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E and one baby aspirin daily," says Creagan. "You can debate the value of supplements, but the evidence suggests more benefits than risks."

Bottom line: "People are living longer than ever, so the choices we make today will impact our quality of life for years to come," says Creagan. "Read the label; your health depends on it."

Continued on page 3:  Eating for a healthy heart


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