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Basic Superfoods

Posted on October 05 2011

Let's hear it for superfoods! Though cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the U.S. (according to the Center for Disease Control), it might put your mind at ease to know that by eating the right foods, you can help protect yourself from many types of cancers. Good news! Right? In this four part series, we’ll not only take a look at several ‘superfoods’ that research suggests have cancer fighting benefits, we’ll also include satisfying recipes that showcase several of these foods in fun, imaginative and delicious ways. Though not all-inclusive, some of the categories of ‘superfoods’ to add to your shopping list are:

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kales, broccoli, cauliflowers and bok choys, not only contain more vitamins and minerals per calorie than other vegetables, but are also high in antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, and E. Some studies suggest they are effective at detoxifying carcinogens before they can damage cells.

Foods high in lycopene

Tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruit and guavas contain the antioxidant lycopene, which gives fruits and vegetables their beautiful red color. These tend to be high in lutein and vitamins A, C, and E. Lycopene-rich foods have been linked to lower rates of cancer, in particular prostate cancer.


Berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, red grapes and cranberries, are among the highest in antioxidants, especially vitamin C.

Allium vegetables

Garlic, leeks, onions and shallots are packed with flavonoid and sulfur containing nutrients. These antioxidants are known for their cardiovascular benefits and are cancer inhibitors.


Nuts, including walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, contain cancer fighting antioxidants and also reduce inflammation. Inflammation can cause cell damage that can eventually lead to cancer.


Shitake and maitake, both fresh and dried, boost the immune system and are believed to slow or stop tumor growth while button mushrooms are rich in selenium, an antioxidant nutrient. Studies suggest mushrooms may protect against breast, prostate and colon cancer.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes, such as navy beans, black beans, kidney beans and black eyed peas, are not only full of lean protein, but are also high in antioxidants that are believed to inhibit the reproduction of cancer cells and slow the growth of tumors.

Fish rich in Omega-3

Wild salmon, tuna and halibut are rich in Omega-3 and just a couple of servings per week may help protect against breast, prostate, ovarian, colon and digestive tract cancers. These fish also provide high amounts of selenium, an antioxidant associated with the prevention of certain types of cancers. To kick off our recipe series, how about an unexpected combination perfect for fall?

Superfoods: Roasted Brussels sprouts with pear, shallot and thyme

Body & Soul magazine, Nov. 2009 Coming up with side dishes that aren’t the same ol’ same ol’ can be a challenge. This is a wonderfully earthy and savory (with a touch of sweet) dish that is so good it may overshadow the main course! Beyond the health benefits of Brussels sprouts and shallots, pears are high in fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and helps prevent damage to cells in the colon. All of this and it’s easy to prepare. Ingredients: 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved - I like the baby Brussels sprouts 1 red Bartlett pear, cored and cut into wedges or chunks - use whatever pears look the best; I love the red Anjou because they are soft, sweet and beautiful 3 shallots, peeled, trimmed and quartered 5 sprigs of fresh thyme - remove thyme from the stems if you have the time, or just leave and toss it in whole 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil Sea salt or kosher salt and pepper 1 tablespoon of lemon juice - I actually prefer the recipe without the lemon juice Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 425° 2. On a large baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts, pear, shallots, thyme and olive oil; season with salt and pepper 3. Roast until the Brussels sprouts are tender and browned, about 30 to 35 minutes 4. Toss with the lemon juice (optional) Tips: I like my Brussels sprouts nicely browned and not steamed. If you do too, make sure you dry them really well after washing. Enjoy! Next week we’ll feature a wonderful and filling play on mushroom leek soup and add some kale to it. -- Dana Wilde grew up playing “sous chef” for her father as he churned out one amazing meal after the next for family and friends. She inherited her father’s lifelong passion for cooking and spent the past two decades studying, reading, practicing, experimenting and creating in the kitchen. Together, she and her sister, Shan, are Simply Wilde, a small boutique catering business focusing on in-home entertaining.

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