Glossary of Healthy-Food Terms:


ANTHOCYANINS:  Plant pigments that help protect you from heart disease.

ANTIOXIDANT:  A substance that prevents harmful molecules called free radicals from damaging DNA.  Free radicals may be a cause of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases.

CAROTENOIDS:  Antioxidant plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A by the body.  There are several types: beta-carotene, a major plant source of vitamin A, which lowers the risk for heart disease and cancer; lutein and zeaxanthin, which are linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss and blindness in older adults; lycopene, linked with a lower risk of heart attack and cancer.

CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID:  Beef, lamb and full-fat cheeses are rich in CLA, which halts tumor formation in animals.

ELLAGIC ACID:  A plant compound that detoxifies and traps carcinogens.

FLAVONOIDS:  Plant compounds that deter cancer in a number of ways.

FOLIC ACID:  B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects and lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease.

INDOLES:  Compounds that help fight cancer.

ISOFLAVONES:  Compounds that act as weak estrogens (phytoestrogens).  Eating 90 mg of isoflavones daily can improve bone density.

ISOTHIOCYANATES:  Compounds, including sulphoraphane, that protect against cancer.

LIGNANS:  Phytoestrogens that help prevent cancer.

MONOUNSATURATED FAT:  The heart-healthiest type of fat.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS:  A type of fat that reduces the risk factors for heart disease.

ORGANOSULFIDES:  Substances that help lower cholesterol.

PHYTOESTROGENS:  Compounds that are structurally similar to human estrogen.  One difference: They do not promote breast and endometrial cancer.  In fact, they help protect against these cancers, while providing many of the same heart-and bone-protective effects as human estrogen.

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