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12 To Your Health
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10 Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin A (beta carotene).
Beta carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A, essential for good immunity. Low levels predict higher risks of cancer, heart disease, infections. Overcooking cuts vitamin A.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Carrots, parsley, fresh and canned pumpkin, spinach, kale, sweet potato. Liver (beef, pork, chicken) is nutrient- dense in retinol, or preformed vitamin A.

Vitamin C.
A strong antioxidant. Deficiency is linked to increased colds and infections, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, infertility in men and overall higher death rates. Best: Eat raw or microwave.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Sweet red and green peppers, guava, bok choy (cabbage), broccoli, kale, cauliflower.

Vitamin B6
More vital than ever because of its recently discovered powers against homocysteine, a blood protein that promotes artery-clogging. A lack of B6 is linked to increased heart attacks, strokes, depression. Some B6 is lost in canning and cooking.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Spinach, fresh tuna, broccoli, bananas, sauerkraut, Brussels sprouts. (Also rich, but not as low-cal: poultry, meat, most seafood, prunes, sunflower seeds, potatoes.)

Vitamin B12
Critical in maintaining normal brain and nervous system functioning. As you age, the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food is often impaired; you may need supplements. Significant amounts of B12 are found only in animal foods. Little is lost in cooking.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Clams, beef liver, oysters, crab, liver sausage or braunschweiger, salmon. (Also rich, but not as low-cal: tuna and skim milk.) Vegans need supplements.

Folic acid
Exciting new research says it helps fight heart disease, strokes, cancer, depression, loss of mental acuity and birth defects. It's crucial in fighting artery-clogging homocysteine. Deficiencies, especially in women, are common. Easily destroyed by heat.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Spinach, turnip and mustard greens, chicken livers, asparagus, okra, Brussels sprouts. (Also rich, but not as low-cal: dried beans, almonds, wheat germ.)

Calcium
A well-known protector of bones. Also tied to less high blood pressure and colon cancer. Eating calcium-rich foods, especially when young, helps maximize bone mass, warding off crippling osteoporosis in later life.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Collard greens, kale, broccoli, plain non-fat yogurt, skim milk, Parmesan cheese. (Also rich, but not as low-cal: canned sardines and canned salmon with bones.)

Potassium
Helps keep the lid on high blood pressure and strokes. In studies, diets low in potassium boosted blood pressure 4 percent (more when salt intake was high) and doubled or tripled risk of fatal strokes. Cooking, canning destroy some potassium.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Beet greens, bok choy (cabbage), spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and tomato juice, beets. (Also rich, but not as low-cal: dried fruits, avocado, white potatoes, sardines, poultry.)

Zinc
Essential for immune functioning, especially as you age. A marginal lack can mildly impair mental functioning, including memory, new research shows.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Oysters, wheat bran and germ, crab meat, lean beef, spinach, calves' liver. (Also rich: nuts, turkey, pork, dried beans.)

Magnesium
Protects against heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, research indicates. Magnesium-deprived animals age rapidly. About three-fourths of Americans have magnesium-deficient diets.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS:
Spinach, wheat bran, beet greens, broccoli, okra, bean curd or tofu. (Also rich, but not as low-cal: fish, dried beans, nuts.)

Selenium
Research is uncovering broad new powers: It may help keep viruses in check, block cancer, boost immunity, reduce heart disease, relieve depression.

FOODS WITH FEWEST CALORIES, MOST NUTRIENTS: Brazil nuts, tuna fish, sunflower seeds, whole grains, garlic, clams.

 

 
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