Green Tea, Dark Chocolate, Pomegranates: Foods currently trending for better health
Jonny Bowden, a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health, has answered a few questions on ingredients currently trending in the health world.
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka "The Rogue Nutritionist") is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology and the best-selling author of 14 books on health, healing, food and longevity, including three best-sellers, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth”, the award-winning “Living Low Carb” and his latest book, co-written with cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and featured on the Dr. Oz Show, “The Great Cholesterol Myth”.
Lisa Nelson, RD: What would you say is the easiest prescription in the world for good health?
Dr. Bowden: “I have met many who are skeptical of every dietary supplement on the market. But their eyes light up when they hear one word: Polyphenols. These are powerful compounds found in plants that have all sorts of health benefits from reducing inflammation to having anti-cancer properties. There’s no downside to them.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Are polyphenols particularly difficult to add to your diet?
Dr. Bowden: “Here’s the good news. You only have to remember three things related to polyphenols: Green tea, dark chocolate and pomegranate juice. I came home from a symposium not too long ago, and told everyone in my family: “Drink three cups of green tea, eat one square of dark chocolate and drink one glass of pomegranate juice a day. These three foods in particular are simply loaded with polyphenols as well as with other healthy nutrients.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Are there any guidelines for choosing foods made with these ingredients?
Dr. Bowden: “You need to be choosy. If you introduce something into your diet for your health, you don’t also want to be introducing toxins into your body.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Let’s start with green tea. What are the benefits of its polyphenols?
Dr. Bowden: “Green tea is probably the most researched of these three super foods. It contains Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has about 20 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E. EGCG helps slow the aging process. Green tea has even been shown to help people lose weight.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Are there any cautions to adding more green tea to your diet?
Dr. Bowden: “Here’s what you should know. Tea, like all plants, can absorb what’s in the environment. It can be contaminated by toxins in the soil and air, and also by chemicals used in the extraction process to make green tea supplements. Keep in mind that green tea is grown in China and other Asian countries where dozens of pesticides are used. Often, these pesticides are actually legal in the growing country, however, they are not allowed here in the U.S. where we have much stricter guidelines.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: What about organic tea?
Dr. Bowden: “Unfortunately, this is even true of certified organic tea, which often is indirectly contaminated with pesticides. However, this polyphenol is just too important to ignore, especially when there are excellent choices available if you only know where to look.
Lisa Nelson, RD: Short of growing our own tea leaves, what can we do?
Dr. Bowden: “Most of us are too busy to brew three cups of green tea every day. So here’s what you do. Look for a supplement called Sunphenon. It’s the one that’s clean, safe, effective and compliant. Sunphenon is the first and only green tea to date to receive the new global certification for food safety. It’s made from pesticide controlled green tea leaves, specifically to meet the U.S. guidelines. It is then extracted with water (just like brewing tea), and for the higher concentrations further decaffeinated using only FDA-approved methods, never with chloroform or other illegal solvents that unfortunately are another common concern with botanical extracts. You may pay more for it, but it’s worth it.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: To our readers, be sure to discuss all supplements with your doctor. There is always risk for drug-nutrient interactions. Dr. Bowden, what are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
Dr. Bowden: “Dark chocolate is really good for your heart. It helps to lower the most inflammatory type of cholesterol while raising the best kind of cholesterol. Even small amounts of dark chocolate may also help to lower your blood pressure. And it may keep your blood vessels pliable. So it’s great for your entire cardiovascular system.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: How should we shop for dark chocolate?
Dr. Bowden: “Choose dark chocolate that contains at least 60 percent cocoa. And stick with just the chocolate. Don’t get tempted to eat dark chocolate-covered candy bars. The extra calories and trans fats can easily cancel out the health benefits.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Why have pomegranates gained so much popularity?
Dr. Bowden: “Pomegranates also help to lower inflammation and blood pressure. They are loaded with vitamins that can help boost the immune system, and they are being studied for their ability to improve symptoms of depression. That’s powerful!”
Lisa Nelson, RD: What are your thoughts on drinking pomegranate juice instead of eating the fruit?
Dr. Bowden: “Pomegranate juice is really popular, and it’s delicious. Just make sure you drink the unsweetened kind. You don’t want to spike your blood sugar, which can create an inflammatory response and may even play havoc with your energy levels.”
Dr. Bowden says a number of tea companies have come under regulatory scrutiny due to the quality and/or safety of their tea extracts. To learn more, go to www.Sunphenon.com.
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