What's round, red, full of holiday cheer, and (dare we say it) good for you? It's the cranberry. Its powerful goodness, coupled with cruciferous vegetables- such as broccoli, bok choy, and kale- and festive seasonal fruits like persimmons, can change attitudes about "healthy" eating during the holidays. Gain some flavorful food insights in Food for Thought: Healing Foods to Savor, authored by nutritional experts at University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center. All proceeds benefit the UCSD Healthy Eating Program (www.healthyeatingucsd.org).
Healthy Enhancing Cranberries
"Evidence of the health benefits of cranberries is mounting," said Vicky Newman, RD, MS, who is one of the cookbook authors and also director of Nutrition Services, Cancer Prevention & Control Program at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. "Like other berries, cranberries are rich in antioxidant and anti inflammatory compounds reported to enhance immune function, improve urinary tract health, reduce cardiovascular and periodontal disease, and potentially inhibit cancer growth." One of Newman's favorite recipes for the holiday season is a Cranberry Salsa she serves with goat cheese and whole-grain crackers. "This pungent mixture of cranberries, jalapeno peppers, and ginger is an appetizer that will please the palate, while also providing plentiful amounts of health enhancing 'plant protectors'."
Cruciferous vegetables, like arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, contain sulfur compounds that support the body's detoxification system and may help reduce cancer risk. For example, dithiolthiones and isothiocyanates seem to increase the activity of enzymes involved in detoxifying carcinogens. lndoles, another cruciferous compound, appear to alter the metabolism of hormones in ways that might help prevent or reduce the growth of hormone sensitive tumors. Newman suggests surprising your holiday guests with a cruciferous vegetable-rich salad featuring holiday colors made with crunchy bok choy, red peppers, shredded carrots, green onions, and peanuts.
Persimmons Rich in Protective Carotenoids
This seasonal bright orange fruit is a good source of beta-carotene and provides a substantial amount of vitamin C and potassium. Newman says, "Fuyu persimmons are firm when ripe and you can eat them like an apple. But the most widely available variety of persimmon is the Hachiya (or Japanese persimmon), which has a smooth, creamy texture. Unripe Hachiyas are extremely bitter until fully soft and ripe. Since it can be messy, try cutting a Hachiya in half and and eating it from the skin with a spoon. Hachiya persimmons are also great in baked goods and persimmon pudding cakes that starts out a luscious bright orange and come out of the oven a rich deep brown. Reminiscent of holiday plum pudding, this dessert is best served warm right from the oven."
University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center