While scientists like those at the annual Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas research every conceivable way to postpone death and dying, the only proven way to prolong your healthy years is the most natural, and the simplest: eating well.

In fact, your best medicine when it comes to preventing the most common diseases associated with aging is to eat a whole-foods diet consisting of fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and soyfoods as well as nuts. seeds, and oils. According to the most recent U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health, dietary choices are a factor in two-thirds of all deaths in this country. Specifically, 75 percent of cardiovascular disease, 60 percent of women’s cancers, and 40 percent of men’s cancers are related to nutrition and diet.

That’s why we gathered (and tested in our professional kitchen) some of the favorite healing recipes from nine leaders in the field of natural health and nutritional healing. These recipes were chosen because they are easy to prepare, delicious, and made with thirty-one of the most powerful superfoods – foods that contain ingredients known to lower the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as boost the body’s natural immunity defenses against diseases. These superfoods include asparagus, bananas, beans, beet greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chickpeas, eggplant, flax, garlic, ginger, kale, leeks, miso, oats, olive oil, onions, parsley, pears, peppers, radishes, scallions, sea vegetables (hijiki and kombu), sesame, soymilk, spinach, tofu, and tomatoes.

HEALING MISO SOUP

Serves 4

Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans, is rich in phytoestrogens, the estrogen-mimicking compounds believed to help reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancers.

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3 thin slices fresh gingerroot
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons light or dark miso
  • Scallions, including green parts, chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat oil in large pot. Add ginger and onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and cabbage. Stir well. Add 5 cups cold water. Bring rapidly to boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are just tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove pot from heat. Place miso in small bowl, add a little broth from pot, and stir well to make smooth paste. Add more broth to thin mixture, then add it to soup. Let rest for a few minutes. Ladle hot soup into individual bowls and garnish with chopped scallions.

ANTICANCER CABBAGE SLAW

Serves 6

Convinced that this slew may help ward off colon cancer better than FDA-approved drugs, Dr. James Duke eats cabbage slew every other day. Duke, Ph.D., an ethnobotanist and author of The Green Pharmacy, retired as chief of the medicinal plants section at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is one of his favorite recipes because every ingredient has shown anticancer potential. Feel free to experiment with ingredients in this recipe, as Duke does. “In fifty-five years of cooking,” he says, “I have never measured anything. I just throw whatever is in season in my weeds into the salad.” His “weeds” are an unwieldy backyard garden of herbs and vegetables ranging from Japanese burdock to carrots to horse balm mint.

Vegetables

  • 1 small firm green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, steamed until tendercrisp
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 radishes, sliced thin
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced thin

Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds or sesame seeds
  1. Place prepared vegetables in large salad howl. Place all dressing ingredients except almonds or sesame seeds in blender and process until smooth. Stir in nuts.
  2. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently

Serve immediately.

BALANCING OATMEAL CEREAL WITH FLAXSEED

Serves 2

Just one big bowl of oatmeal a day has been shown to lower overall cholesterol by 6 percent while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol by 15 percent. Be sure to grind the flaxseed in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder (only by grinding the seeds, do they absorb cholesterol) and allow the oatmeal to cool before adding the ground flaxseed so that its healing power does not get burned off by the heat.

  • 2/3 cups oats
  • 2 tablespoons raw flaxseed, ground
  • 1/4-1/2 cup soymilk or rice milk vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  1. Bring 1/2 Cups water to boil in pot. Stir In oats and return to boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat; let stand a few minutes. Stir in ground flaxseed, soymilk or rice milk, and honey. Top with banana and serve.

CHINESE SOUP FOR STRONG QI

Serves 6

San Francisco acupuncturist and herbalist Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac., digs into the nutritional wisdom of Chinese medicine to make a recipe that promotes qi, the body’s life energy, and stimulates wei, the body’s defensive energy against disease. Beinfield likes this recipe because the herbs in it “eliminate the pathogenic or disease-causing factors (Wind and Heat or Wind and Cold), and prevent the formation of phlegm and congestion.” Gingerroot is an anti-inflammatory spice; as little as one-sixth of an ounce of fresh gingerroot can decrease the pain, swelling, and stiffness of arthritis. Even though it’s called a soup here, its translation in Chinese is tang, or medicinal tea. Sip it next time you’ve got a cold or the flu. Look for pueraria and platycodon roots and Chinese dates in Chinese markets.

  • 1 ounce pueraria root, sliced
  • 1 ounce platycodon root, sliced
  • 12 Chinese black dates, soaked, pitted, and chopped
  • 1 1-inch knob fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced thin
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
  • 2 ripe pears, cored and diced small
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey or raw cane sugar to taste
  1. Place pueraria and platycodon in muslin bag or wrap in cheesecloth. Place roots, dates, ginger, and stock in two-quart nonreactive saucepan. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  2. Add pears and cook another 30 minutes. Remove and discard roots.
  3. Turn off heat, stir in mint and honey, cover again, and allow to steep 15 minutes. Ladle into mugs or bowls; serve and consume while hot.

ANTIOXIDANT MINESTRONE

Serves 6

Elson Haas, M.D., specializes in helping people detoxify their bodies and maintain optimum health through nutrition. He directs the Preventive Medical Center of Marin, an integrated healthcare facility in San Rafael, California. Haas created this antioxidant-rich soup to be eaten in the spring, the “purification season” in which we should consume more fresh foods and liquids. The sea vegetable is high in B vitamins believed to help prevent arthritis, while it is also rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E. Both peas and broccoli supply high doses of beta-carotene and vitamin C to add anticancer strength to this soup. The fresh basil in the pesto has monoterpenes, the anhoxidant also found in broccoli, oranges, and parsley. Miso takes the place of cheese and gives this sauce an especially smooth, rich texture. Like many authentic Italian recipes, this minestrone does not contain tomatoes. Instead, a dollop of pesto sauce is spooned over the hot bowls of soup just before serving.

Soup

  • 1 strip kombu sea vegetable
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or 1/2 tablespoon dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sweet peas
  • Sea salt

Pesto

  • 2 cups stemmed fresh basil leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 tablespoon light miso
  • 1 garlic dove, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Bring 6 cups cold water, kombu, rice, and herbs (if using dried) to boil in soup kettle. Simmer 30 minutes. Add leeks, potato, celery, and carrots and simmer 15 minutes longer.
  2. Meanwhile, puree all pesto ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. If too thick, dilute with a little water. Set aside. (Pesto can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days.)
  3. Add broccoli, peas, and herbs (if using fresh) and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove kombu, add salt to taste, and ladle soup into individual bowls. Dollop 1 to 2 tablespoons pesto into each bowl and serve immediately.

TOMATO-CAPER PASTA SAUCE

Enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta

The tomatoes in this quietly spicy sauce spike it with lycopene, a nutraceutical thought to prevent pancreatic, cervical, and bladder cancers. Cancer-fighting vitamin C abounds in tomatoes and their juices. People with arthritis should stay away from tomato, however: as a member of the nightshade family, it may irritate joints. Serve this sauce over spaghetti or linguine.

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic dove, peeled
  • 1 dried red chile pepper or 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers

Sea salt

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan set over medium heat Add garlic clove and chile or hot red pepper and saute until garlic is slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Remove and discard garlic.
  2. Add tomatoes and simmer, with saucepan lid ajar, for about 20 minutes. Add olives and capers and simmer 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Toss with drained, cooked pasta and serve immediately.

TOFU, HIJIKI, AND CORN SALAD

Serves 4

The combination of tofu and hijiki, a sea vegetable found at a natural foods stores, gives you a double defense against cancer and arthritis while the fresh corn provides fiber to maintain regularity and potassium to help keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check. For a dressing that is lighter in color and therefore allows the tofu to maintain its whiteness, substitute one tablespoon of pickled plum (umeboshi) vinegar for one tablespoon of the soy sauce.

  • 1 cup dried hijiki seaweed (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Kernels from 2 large ears yellow corn
  • 1/4 pound firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 scallions, white and light green pares, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons natural soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese sweet rice cooking wine (mirin)
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 6 large tender lettuce leaves, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Rinse hijiki by swishing in bowl of cool water; drain. Bring hijiki and 2 cups cold water to boil in small saucepan. Simmer, covered, until hijiki is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving broth for soup or for house or garden plants. Cut hijiki into bite-size pieces if strands are very long.
  2. Steam corn kernels and tofu until corn is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. When cool, gently mix with hijiki and scallions and set aside
  3. Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil together until dressing is smooth Drizzle over hijiki mixture and toss gently.
  4. Divide lettuce among individual plates. Spoon hijiki salad over lettuce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

ANTIOXIDANT VEGGIE SALAD WITH PARISIAN PARSLEY DRESSING

Serves 6

The tender brussels sprouts in this salad offer sulforaphane, a compound that may stimulate your body to produce cancer-fighting enzymes, and indole, a phyto-chemical that may help prevent estrogen related cancers. The asparagus and carrot join in the cancer fight as well. Don’t skimp on the parsley in the dressing; research is showing just how strong a cancer-fighter it may be.

Parisian Parsley Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Vegetables

  • 1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough bottom ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 2 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled, halved length-wise, then cut diagonally into
  • 1-inch pieces
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled, halved lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red radishes, quartered lengthwise
  1. Prepare dressing by whisking ingredients together in small bowl. Set dressing aside to blend flavors.
  2. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan while rinsing and cutting vegetables. Add vegetables to boiling water and simmer, partially covered, until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving broth for use in another dish or soup.
  3. Place vegetables in large bowl, drizzle with dressing, and toss. Serve hot or cool.

CANCER-FIGHTING MEDITERRANEAN EGGPLANT GRATIN

Serves 6

When Nancy Harmon Jenkins released The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, it was the culmination of extensive research and collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization to develop one of the best food pyramids for long, healthy life. As a result of their high intake of monoun-saturated fat (olive oil) and the low intake of saturated fat in their diets, Mediterranean peoples enjoy a low incidence of coronary heart disease. Try this unusual recipe for its cancer-fighting power as well as its heart regulating properties. Eggplant, and its nightshade sister tomato, contain terpenes that may prevent the formation of hormone-related cancerous tumors. The antioxidants in eggplant and orange increase healthy cells’ resistance to cancer invasion. There is no need to salt the eggplant slices. The strong-flavored sauce will conceal any lurking acerbity. For a more handsome presentation, lightly oil an oval gratin dish, and spread a very thin layer of orange-tomato sauce over the bottom. Set the eggplant slices on the sauce, top with more sauce and cheese, and broil. Serve directly from the gratin dish.

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • Zest of 1 medium orange, cut into julienne strips or chopped fine
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated soy Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large saute pan set over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrot. and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and zest, turn heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often, until tomato juice has nearly evaporated and sauce is thick and jammy, about 15 minutes. Taste sauce and season, using a little salt and a lot of pepper. Turn off heat, stir in basil, and set sauce aside. (Sauce can be prepared well ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to continue. Add about 1/4 cup water to sauce to keep it from scorching, and reheat before continuing.)
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant into rounds no more than 1/2 inch thick. Use some of remaining oil to grease large baking sheet. Lay eggplant slices on sheet and using a paintbrush or pastry brush, paint each slice with coating of oil. Roast slices about 20 minutes or until they are brown on top and creamy inside. Remove baking sheet from oven.
  4. Preheat broiler. Top each eggplant slice with heaping tablespoon of orange-tomato sauce, then sprinkle with a little grated cheese (if using). Return to oven and broil 3 minutes or just long enough to melt cheese and bubble sauce. Serve immediately.

HEART-SMART GREEK BEAN STEW

Serves 4

Alexandra Jenkins, senior research dietician at the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Center at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, developed this recipe as a hearty way to enjoy its powerful cholesterol fighters. Beans may also have a favorable impact on the blood sugar levels of diabetics. The soluble fiber in beans gives them the power to beat heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. This chunky stew is great for those damp, early spring days.

  • 2 cups dried navy beans, picked over and soaked overnight in ample cold water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted halved black olives, such as Kalamata
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  1. Drain soaked beans and simmer, covered, in plenty of water for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until almost soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat until lightly browned. Add peppers and garlic and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, beans, herbs, salt, and pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  3. Add olives and parsley and simmer 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

CHOLESTEROL-CUTTING CARROTS WITH OLIVES AND TWENTY CLOVES OF GARLIC

Serves 4

Cookbook writer and cooking instructor Lorna Sass created this blood-regulating side dish for her classic Recipes from an Ecological kitchen. The USDA has found that just two carrots a day may lower your cholesterol by 20 percent, and when you combine the carrots with olive oil and a megadose of garlic, you’ll have a delicious and unparalleled nutritional defense against atherosclerosis. The onions in this dish contain quercetin, a flavonoid that has shown to slow the growth of estrogen-sensitive cells that produce breast cancer. The onions also work to add an unusual sweetness to this dish.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped course
  • 20 small or 10 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into
  • 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup pitted, coarsely chopped black olives, preferably oil cured
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  1. Heat oil in heavy, 3-quart saucepan. Add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until onion is soft, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add stock (watch for sputtering oil) and bring to boil. Add carrots, rosemary, olives, and salt.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently until carrots are tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Serve mixture in small bowls or lift out solid ingredients with slotted spoon and serve them on platter, reserving any leftover liquid for cooking or soups.

GARLICKY CHICKPEA SOUP WITH GREENS

Serves 4 to 6

Cholesterol-regulating chickpeas take center stage in a recipe that is an all-around tonic. Olive oil helps raise your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels; carrots, onion, and greens use vitamins A and C to prevent cancer.

To get the maximum antioxidant punch from this one-dish meal, go with four tablespoons of fresh garlic. The garlic-infused broth will also comfort you when you’re suffering from a cold.

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, picked over and soaked overnight in ample cold water to cover
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (make sure it’s fresh and unblemished)
  • 1 large leek, white and green parts, carefully rinsed and sliced thin (about 1 1/2 cups) or 1 large onion, chopped coarse
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 pound beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, escarole, or kale, chopped fine
  • 2-3 teaspoons finely minced orange peel (preferably organic), colored part only
  • Sea salt
  1. Drain chickpeas and discard any loose skins. Set aside. Heat oil in large soup pot. Add garlic and leek or onion and saute over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 6 cups water, reserved chickpeas, carrots, celery, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves.
  2. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Adjust soup pot cover so it is ajar and continue to simmer until the chickpeas are very tender, about 30-35 minutes.
  3. Remove and discard bay leaves. If you prefer a thicker soup, remove 1 cup of chickpeas from the broth, puree, and return them to soup and stir. Stir in greens, orange peel, and salt. Gently simmer the soup, uncovered, until all the greens are cooked, 2 to 3 minutes for beet greens, spinach, and chard and 5 to 8 minutes for escarole and kale. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve immediately.