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slim and prevent diabetes. But chocolate is healthy only if it’s the bitter type made up of at least 70 percent cacao, and if you eat it in small amounts. (Milk and white chocolate don’t count because they contain too much sugar.) A small square of dark chocolate also can

keep you from nodding off at work at 3 p.m. It contains less caffeine than coffee but enough to improve your midday concentration. A compound in dark chocolate, called phenyl- ethylamine, triggers the brain to release the feel-good chemical dopamine, which improves alertness.

White Tea Teas of all types have been used medicinally for thousands of years. New research con- tinues to pinpoint exactly why tea is such a healthful beverage. Recently green tea has become the rage of the health-conscious because it’s loaded with the antioxidant EGCG, which has been shown to reduce oxidative stress on the neurological system, potentially protecting against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Now, food scientists are saying the white

variety of tea leaf contains the most potent antioxidants of all teas and the most powerful natural fighters of cancer. Studies at Louisiana State University suggest that one cup of white tea a day may reduce colon cancer risk by half.

Spinach Studies show that people who eat a lot of green and leafy vegetables like spinach are less likely to suffer from the eye disease macular degeneration because of the protective effect of the antioxidant lutein, a substance in spinach related to vitamin A. Spinach is also rich in vitamin K, which is known to increase bone-mineral density and protect against osteoporosis.

Sauerkraut Fermented foods like the pickled Korean dish kimchi and its western counterpart sau- erkraut contain probiotics, live bacteria that help maintain natural microflora in the gut necessary for digestion. “These live micro- organisms in your system affect everything from your skin, digestive health, heart health and immune system,” says registered dietician


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and exercise physiologist Chris Mohr, Ph.D. “There’s even evidence that certain strains of probiotics can reduce total and LDL cho- lesterol.” Other good sources of probiotics besides fermented cabbage are yogurt, kefir, miso soup and pickles.

Cauliflower and Broccoli The florets of these cruciferous vegetables contain proven anticancer compounds, includ- ing sulforaphanes, which inhibit enzymes that alert gene expression, plus big doses of vita- mins C and K. One study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that a serving of cauliflower a day reduced lung cancer risk by 61 percent.

By now you may have noticed a pattern

among the healing foods in this article. Most are plants. And very few come packaged in a box or a can. ¿

JEFF CSATARI is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Belly Off! Diet.

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