> Diets rich in certain fruits and vegetables can keep illnesses at bay
by Steve Yap
In nutritional medicine, fibre is recognised as an essential bulk nutrient just like protein, carbohydrate and fats. However, too much fibre could bring about a reduction in the absorption of micro-nutrients.
Research shows that regular consumption of banana in place of refined carbohydrates could reduce colon cancer by some 40%. Colon cancer has the highest fatality rate for men and third highest for women in this country.
Banana (actually a berry) has rich dietary fibre and mineral contents and it should be consumed when slightly ripe. Overly ripe banana contains higher fructose and may be infested with fungi.
Like potato, more potassium is found in its skin.
>> Bamboo shoot
It is high on dietary fibre and research suggests it possesses strong anti-tumour properties.
Its bitter taste is believed to come from rare phyto-chemicals and vitamin B17 (amygdalins) found in grass and in some plants and seeds eaten in olden days.
Limited in-vitro studies have shown positive results against some cancer cell lines.
>> Bittermelon (Bitter gourd)
This fruit – not a vegetable – helps to lower elevated blood sugar and is helpful to those who consume refined starch on a daily basis.
It can be served fresh or cooked. Its protein – charantin – acts like the hormone insulin, but without the possible adverse health effects of elevated insulin from repeated injections.
Excessive insulin promotes weight gain, hunger spell, and possibly tumour growth. So, maintaining healthy blood glucose can pay rich dividends since the majority of those who suffer from diabetes are likely to die from heart attacks and/or strokes.
>> Chinese cabbage
Local research demonstrates very strong in-vitro anti-tumour properties against colon cancer cell line for this vegetable though some Chinese traditional medicine practitioners believe it to be "too cooling".
Since most chronic diseases are linked to inflammation (‘fire’), it may explain why we need to consume Chinese cabbage regularly to ‘extinguish’ the fire from within.
This fruit (not a vegetable) stands out as being extremely low in fructose, yet rich in soluble fibre. It possesses anti-tumour properties too.
Contrary to popular belief, regular consumption of sweet fruits high in fructose greatly accelerates the onset of diabetes despite fruit sugar having a very low glycemic (GI) index due to its different metabolism.
Cucumber is a rather low GI food. The lower the GI, the lower our risks of contracting chronic health disorders. It’s healthy to consume cucumber after a meal containing lots of refined starch, simple sugars and fats.
Allicin in this root vegetable helps keep our arteries clean. Garlic also raises good cholesterol and reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol. It is helpful in promoting detoxification since it’s rich in sulphur amino acid called L-cysteine needed in conjugation (binding of toxins for excretion).
Garlic is also a rich source of the amino acid L-arginine. Arginine-derived nitric oxide promotes cardiovascular health.
The vitamin C content in this fruit is much higher than that of other fruits like apples. Chronic deficiency of vitamin C has been linked to elevated stress and toxic load, heart disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, stroke, low collagen production and accelerated ageing.
Guava and its leaves contain quercetin, which is used to treat allergies via its positive actions on IgE.
However, its seeds should be avoided as well as the genetically-modified seedless guava since its nutritional and health properties have yet to be fully studied.
It is rich in the enzyme bromelain, which is used in nutritional medicine to treat the No.1 cause of most chronic health disorders: inflammation.
Unfortunately, most of the enzyme is found in the stem which is usually discarded before serving.
Unlike many other sweet fruits, the pineapple helps make our body more alkaline. Its detoxification properties are highly valued in natural medicine.
>> Sengkuang (white turnip)
Of all local produce, this root vegetable contains probably the highest potassium content, which is useful for reversing the adverse effect of excessive sodium in our modern diets.
Too much sodium is linked to hypertension, kidney damage, stroke, anxiety, edema and elevated stress.
>> Sweet potato
The local purple- or orange-coloured sweet potato is an excellent substitute for the starchy potato or chips or fries. It is rich in alpha- and beta-carotene, which is a pro-vitamin A.
Carotene is an oil-soluble antioxidant and should be consumed with some dietary fats to enhance its absorption. Unlike other popular antioxidants, this vitamin is not recycled by other nutrients. Liver toxicity should be monitored when consuming high dosages.
Views expressed are those of the author, who’s president of the Federation of Complementary & Natural Medical Associations, and not necessarily those of the professional bodies and government committees of which he’s a member. Dato’ Steve Yap can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.