We all see the articles with lists of all the foods NOT to eat. But this list is different. These are the foods that you absolutely should eat. Why? Because they prevent, as well as the fight against, inflammation, cancer, and heart disease. These disease-fighting foods should be in everyone’s kitchen. The goal is to introduce these foods into your diet. By no means should you throw out everything in your fridge and buy only these items.
The idea is to start little by little, introducing these items into your meals and snacks. Baby steps, my friends. Eventually, you will be replacing the less nutritious foods with these. Add these foods to your smoothies, shakes, and salads. And keep it interesting! Some of these foods you may have already heard about, like avocados, but some will surely surprise you!
So let’s get started, shall we?
Beets are full of antioxidants and have been found to protect against heart disease, cancer, and inflammation. Beets are great because they’re naturally sweet and full of fiber and vitamin C. Beets make a great nutrient-packed addition to any meal. And they can be eaten raw and cold, or cooked and warm.
You can add finely grated raw beets to a salad or bake them along with sweet potatoes and parsnips for a yummy side-dish. Keep in mind, though, that boiling them can decrease their nutritional value.
An apple a day right? Sometimes those old sayings have some real merit to them. Apples are the richest fruit source of pectin, which is a soluble fiber that has been proven to lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of colon and breast cancer, reduce cholesterol, and lessen the severity of diabetes.
Try adding a few slices to a sandwich or add them to a salad. Leafy greens, pecans, and apples go amazingly well together. Add a light vinaigrette dressing, and you just found your new favorite salad.
A cup of alfalfa sprouts has less than 10 calories, which makes it basically fat-free. The sprouts contain phytochemicals called saponins, which may have the benefit of protecting against cancer and they also help lower cholesterol.
Alfalfa sprouts are fresh and crunchy in nature, so they make a great addition to a sandwich or salad. Better yet, add some to your veggie or chicken burger, and you won’t regret it!
Avocados are one of the better-known superfoods. Just one half of a medium-size avocado has more than 4 grams of fiber and 15% of the recommended daily folate intake. Avocados are also cholesterol-free and rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium. They are a real powerhouse for heart health.
Avocados can be added to your diet in many ways, which makes them, so fun to eat. You can make guacamole, add pieces to your salad, make avocado toast, add them to a sandwich, or simply add them to your plate as a side dish. Sprinkle some lemon juice and salt and call it a day.
Cranberries are legendary for protecting against urinary tract infections, but you might not be aware that they can also improve blood cholesterol and help in recovery from strokes. Pretty amazing, right? Cranberry juice, by the way, has also been shown to make cancer drugs more potent.
Cranberries are available frozen year-round, but their peak season is from October through December. And if you can find some non-sweetened dried cranberries, they’re the perfect addition to salads.
Flaxseed lowers blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of a heart attack. It’s also a rich source of lignan, a powerful antioxidant that may fight against disease and certain cancers, especially breast cancer. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed (which is digested more efficiently than whole seeds) contain 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake. Those two tablespoons also contain more than 100% of the recommended intake for inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
You can add ground flaxseed to baked goods with your favorite cereal or oatmeal. It’s also a great addition to a smoothie or yogurt. Side note: it’s best to add flaxseed into your diet gradually as it can have a laxative effect.
One medium orange (the size of a tennis ball) provides all the daily vitamin C you need, which is the perfect immunity booster and cancer fighter. Vitamin C is best consumed in its natural form. Italian researchers found that test subjects had greater antioxidant protection when they drank orange juice rather than vitamin C–fortified water.
Oranges are also a good source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins. I don’t think you need any direction on how to eat or drink oranges and their delicious juices. Just try to make it a daily thing to optimize on their amazing benefits.
Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and similar green leafy vegetables. They contain beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They also have sulforaphane, a plant compound with anticancer properties. One study showed that sulforaphane significantly inhibits cancer cell growth as well as stimulates cell death in colon cancer cells.
Another study demonstrated that sulforaphane together with genistein (found in soybeans) could considerably inhibit breast cancer tumor development and size. Sulforaphane also inhibits histone deacetylase, the enzyme with links to cancer development. 3 to 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables each week is ideal for the best cancer-preventive effects.
Pumpkins are in the squash family and seemingly an underrated and forgotten superfood. They’re packed with fiber and beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A in the body). Beta-carotene helps reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. The antioxidants of this vitamin, together with potassium, help prevent high blood pressure.
If you want to make the whole squash, you can also toast the seeds for a tasty snack with heart-healthy fats. Pumpkin is great roasted with other veggies like bell peppers, onions, and zucchini.
Incas referred to this ancient seed as “the mother of all grains,” and it’s because quinoa is full of a variety of nutrients, including iron and copper. It contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein (hello, vegans and vegetarians). It’s also a wonderful source of magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and has been found to even reduce the frequency of migraines.
Studies have shown that consuming dietary fiber, specifically whole grains like quinoa reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. The best is to substitute quinoa for rice or pasta. You can add flavor and spices just like you would to anything else. It’s a great base for seafood dishes and mixes really well with beans.
A half cup of these berries has an impressive 4 grams of fiber and more than 25% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C and manganese. Raspberries also contain a powerful stash of antioxidants, including anthocyanin, which gives raspberries their ruby-red color and antimicrobial properties.
If you don’t enjoy eating them as is, you can add them to your smoothies, yogurt parfaits, or oatmeal. They also go well in your morning cereal or in salads too.
Popeye knew before we all did that spinach was a superfood. The vegetable’s powerful antioxidants have been found to combat different cancers, including ovarian, breast, and colon. And it’s good for the noggin: Research shows that spinach reduces the decline in brain function that comes with aging and it protects the heart from cardiovascular disease.
Spinach has a mild flavor, so it’s best to spice it up with garlic, olive oil, and onions. Add it to your omelets and smoothies if you want to add it to your daily diet.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene. Just one medium sweet potato has over four times the recommended daily amount. They’re also rich in potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which can help prevent clogged arteries.
You can bake, boil, or fry sweet potatoes. But it’s best to bake or roast them to keep all the nutrients. And if you need a boost of fiber, leave the skins on them. Sweet potatoes should ideally substitute regular potatoes.
A 4-ounce piece of turkey breast contains almost 50% of your daily selenium – the trace mineral that plays an important role in immune function and antioxidant defense. People claim that turkey meat causes drowsiness, but it actually contains high amounts of niacin and vitamin B6, which are essential for efficient energy production and blood-sugar regulation.
If you’re going to roast the whole turkey, make sure to remove the skin, which is loaded with saturated fat. The great thing about turkey is that you can use the leftovers in salads, wraps, and sandwiches.
One-quarter cup of walnuts provides you with 90% of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acid. And those help with everything from maintaining cognitive function, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure.
If you don’t like to eat walnuts on their own, you can sprinkle a few walnut halves on your oatmeal or t in your favorite salad for some extra crunch. They also can be added to smoothies, yogurt, and go really well with a bowl of apples and some honey or nut butter.
1 cup of watercress supplies you with nearly 100% of a woman’s recommended daily amount of vitamin K – the vitamin that has been shown to prevent hardening of the arteries and is vital for strong bones. It’s also a good source of vitamin A, a potent antioxidant.
Try using these peppery leaves instead of lettuce in salads or sandwiches. Another tasty way to add watercress to your diet is to add them to your stir-fry or soup.
Yogurt has probiotics, which are bacteria that live in the intestine and help digestion, boost the immune system, reduce bad breath, and might even be associated with longer life spans. One cup of plain yogurt supplies one-third of your daily calcium requirement, and 14 grams of protein.
Choose the low-fat or nonfat versions to minimize the saturated fat content, and try substituting plain yogurt for a healthier alternative to sour cream in recipes. If you’re lactose intolerant, there are soy and rice milk alternatives.
Berries offer a powerful dose of disease-fighting antioxidants. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, blueberries are the best antioxidant-rich fruits, followed by cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. The color of berries comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant that helps neutralize “free radicals” (cell-damaging molecules) which can cause chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Try to introduce berries to your daily diet. They’re perfect in cereals, yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and smoothies. And as a side note, if you freeze them, they make for a yummy frozen treat.
Dairy foods aren’t only the best food source of calcium, it also has plenty of protein, vitamins (including vitamin D), and minerals – the secret to fighting osteoporosis. Beyond maintaining strong bones, dairy can also help you lose weight. While the research is ongoing, some studies have shown that three daily servings of dairy (in a calorie-controlled diet) may help decrease belly fat and enhance weight loss.
Low-fat dairy foods are great snacks because they have both carbohydrates and protein, so you’ll feel fool longer. For a low-fat smoothie: use low-fat milk or yogurt, a bit of orange juice, a handful of berries for an energizing snack or meal substitute.
Fish like salmon and tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, helping you lower blood fats and prevent blood clots associated with heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least two servings of fish (especially fatty fish) at least twice a week.
Another benefit of eating meals with salmon or tuna is that you’ll reduce your potential intake of saturated fat. Put some fish on the grill or under the broiler for a quick, yummy, and heart-healthy meal.
Some of the best disease-fighting foods are dark, leafy greens, which include spinach, kale, bok choy, and dark lettuces. They are full of vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. That’s quite a cocktail of healthy stuff!
A study from Harvard found that eating magnesium-rich foods like spinach can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Try making every salad with at least one of these leafy greens.
Did you know that oatmeal, the soluble fiber from oats, helps lower blood cholesterol levels? Whole grains retain the nutritional components that are usually stripped away from refined grains. Whole grains contain folic acid, selenium, and B vitamins, which are important to heart health, weight control, and reducing the risk of diabetes.
Their fiber helps you feel full longer and promotes digestive health. Eat at least three servings a day of whole-grain foods: whole wheat; barley; rye; millet; quinoa; brown rice; wild rice; and whole-grain pasta, bread, and cereals. The daily recommendation for fiber is 21-38 grams (depending on age and gender), according to the American Dietetic Association.
Yes, tomatoes are actually a fruit! And these red-hot fruits are bursting with not only flavor but lycopene – an antioxidant that can help protect against some cancers. They also contain vitamins A and C, potassium, and phytochemicals.
Tomatoes can be enjoyed raw, cooked, sliced, chopped, or diced as part of many meals or snacks.
Tomatoes, by the way, should be kept outside of the fridge. If you’re curious as to what not to put in your fridge, check out this list of foods that should never be refrigerated!
Included in the legume family are alfalfa, clover, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans (edamame), and tamarind. These beans and legumes are little nutritious nuggets that are packed with phytochemicals; fat-free and high-quality protein; folic acid; fiber; iron; magnesium; and calcium. Beans are an excellent and cheap protein source, perfect for vegetarian meals.
Eating beans and legumes regularly can help reduce the risk of some cancers; lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels; and stabilize blood sugar levels. Beans also help with weight management by filling you up with minimal calories. Add beans and legumes to your salads, soups, stews, and dips.
We already mentioned walnuts, but there are many other nuts worthy of mentioning. Nuts are full of fats – the healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated kind, which can lower cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease. Nuts are a good source of protein, fiber, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
A small portion of nuts can boost your energy and curb your hunger. But be careful, because nuts have lots of calories and it can be easy to overeat them. So try to limit yourself to one ounce per day. What are the best nuts? Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts.
Eggs are packed with low-cost and high-quality protein. They’re an excellent source of the carotenoids lutein, choline, and xanthin that we all need in our diets. Eggs are actually one of the best sources of dietary choline, an essential nutrient that is especially beneficial for pregnant women.
Eggs have been proven to supply nutrients that promote eye health and help in preventing age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in older people. You should limit your average daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg, so in other words, you should keep it to one egg a day.
If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate vitamin C into your diet, you should try buying more papayas. One cup of papaya cubes gives you more than 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin C, as well as a nice dose of potassium and folate.
They also provide vitamins A and E, which are two powerful antioxidants that protect against heart disease and colon cancer. This tropical fruit is great for adding in smoothies and salads. And you can also just scoop it out of the shell with a spoon.
We already mentioned the amazing properties of cruciferous vegetables in general, but cauliflower deserves its own spotlight. Cauliflower contains indoles which are nitrogen compounds that can help prevent tumors. The cruciferous vegetable helps prevent the risk for many cancers, including bladder, breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer.
What’s great is that cauliflowers are versatile; you can eat them raw, sauteed, boiled, steamed, or roasted. Instead of mashed potatoes, make mashed cauliflower instead. That’s just one example of the many ways to it into recipes.
Garlic is shown to reduce risk in breast, stomach, and esophagus cancers. And based on research by the American Institute for Cancer, garlic can also fight against stomach and colorectal cancers.
To increase its potential, mince garlic for about 10 minutes before you use it in a recipe. Add some garlic to sautées and stir-frys, steam vegetables in a garlic sauce, or roast them with other veggies.
Grapes aren’t just tasty and fun to eat; they also have a cancer-fighting phytochemical called resveratrol. It possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which reduce the risk of diseases.
Grapes can obviously be eaten raw, on their own or in oatmeal and fruit salads. But have you ever tried roasting them? Just look online for a roasted grape recipe, and you can try something new and exciting for your next dinner!
We all know how carrots are good for eye health, but they offer a whole lot more. Carrots have several essential nutrients including vitamin K, vitamin A, and antioxidants. They contain high amounts of beta-carotene, which gives them their distinctive orange color. Recent studies show that beta-carotene plays a significant role in supporting the immune system and can prevent certain types of cancer.
A review of eight studies showed that beta-carotene is correlated with a reduction in the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Another review showed that higher consumption of carrots results in a 26% lower risk of developing stomach cancer.
Turmeric has the active ingredient curcumin, which is one of the most powerful ingredients in an anti-cancer diet because it’s been proven to decrease tumor size and fight colon and breast cancer. When combined with black pepper, turmeric’s absorption is enhanced and better able to attack inflammation.
One teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper is what you need every day. You can add it to your tonic drink, to your eggs or in a veggie stir fry. Other herbs include ginger, raw garlic, thyme, cayenne pepper, oregano, basil, and parsley.
Organic meats like beef or chicken liver are recommended in cancer-fighting diets because they’re considered some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and are very high in vitamin B12. Consuming organic meats provides you with minerals that help cleanse the liver and enhance your body’s ability to remove toxins from the blood and digestive tract.
When you detoxify with rich sources of selenium, zinc and B vitamins, it helps purify the blood; produce the bile that’s needed to digest fats; balance hormones naturally; and store essential vitamins, minerals, and iron. These mineral-rich foods can also help counteract the effects of alcohol, prescription drugs, and hormone disruptions.
Your brain and nervous system control the function of your entire body, and 60% of your nervous system is made up of fatty acids. The problem is that many processed fats and oils that most people consume today are hydrogenated oils that can destroy the membranes of our cells, which in turn lead to diseased cells and toxicity.
Replace refined vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils and Trans fats with the good quality oils, including flax oil, extra virgin olive oil, cod oil, and coconut oil. These oils nourish your gut and promote better immune system functioning. Olive oil has phytonutrients that reduce inflammation in the body. It might also reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancers.
Mushrooms vary in terms of their benefits, taste, and appearance considering that there are hundreds of mushroom species in existence today. But all mushrooms are known to be immune-enhancers, and many have been used to fight cancer for hundreds of years.
Reishi, Cordyceps and maitake mushrooms, in particular, can improve immune function, fight tumor growth and help in cell regeneration. Aside from cooking them, you can buy them in capsule or tincture form.
Several studies have reported that the consumption of green tea can help lower cancer risk. Green tea contains key polyphenolic compounds, including epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which are shown to inhibit tumor invasion and angiogenesis, which cause tumor growth and metastasis (the most deadly aspect of cancer).
Green, black or oolong tea are widely consumed around the world. While all traditional teas are beneficial, the most significant effects on human health are attributed to green tea, including matcha green tea.
Did you know that ginger comes from the root of a flowering plant from China? Ginger is used as both a flavor enhancer and for medicinal purposes. Ginger root has antioxidants, such as gingerol. Ginger is effective in managing nausea and reducing pain from acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Ginger can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia, and some cancers. Ginger can be consumed fresh or as an oil or juice and in dried/powdered forms. It’s perfect for soups, stir-fries, sauces, and teas.
Seaweed is a nutrient-rich sea vegetable. You’ll commonly see it consumed in Asian cuisines like sushi and seaweed salad, but it’s been gaining popularity in other parts of the world due to its known nutritional value. Seaweed has multiple nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, iodine, and fiber.
Seaweed is a source of unique bioactive compounds which aren’t usually found in land-vegetables, and they might have antioxidant effects. It can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
According to research published in Osteoporosis International, prunes, which are dried plums, are full of polyphenols — plant chemicals that boost bone density by stimulating bone-building cells in the body. They’re also known for improving several health conditions, including constipation and osteoporosis.
Prunes can be consumed fresh or dried. They’re great with a handful of nuts or trail mix. So make sure to have some throughout the week!
Asparagus is totally underrated. It’s not only delicious, but it’s really healthy too. A half-cup of asparagus gives you 50% of your daily bone-building vitamin K and a third of the recommended daily amount of folate.
Asparagus is a natural diuretic, so it helps relieve the annoying condition of bloating. It’s the perfect side dish to any meal.
Like any citrus fruit, grapefruit offers a lot of vitamin C, which means gives your immune system a boost. High concentrations of vitamin C have been shown to reduce the risk of heart-related issues, including stroke and heart attack.
Other health benefits of grapefruit include: Cancer prevention from the lycopene, protection against Alzheimer’s disease, detoxification of the liver, possible prevention of breast cancer, and lower cholesterol.
Here’s a way to keep your sweet tooth in check: pomegranate seeds. Why? Because they’re low in calories. Other benefits include: disease-fighting antioxidants and high fiber content that supports digestive regularity.
In addition, pomegranates help improve blood flow for better cardiovascular health, slow the growth of prostate cancer, and reduce bad cholesterol.
With dark chocolate, the benefits extend beyond emotional health to physical health as well, just as long as you consume in moderation. A study from 2012 found that dark chocolate was linked to a reduction in nonfatal strokes and heart attacks when consumed daily.
Other benefits of semi-sweet dark chocolate include: chances of reduced blood pressure, a lower chance of blood clots, reduced inflammation, improved cognitive functioning, and improved mood.
Kiwi is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which makes it an immunity-boosting powerhouse. You can slice one up for breakfast, put it in your smoothie, or add it to your oatmeal.
The health benefits include: protection for oxidative damage that occurs to DNA over time, help managing blood pressure level with high potassium intake, help with digestion, removal of toxins from the body, and reduced intestinal issues or constipation.
Hot oatmeal in the morning isn’t just a go-to breakfast for busy moms who care about nutrition; a bowl a day has huge heart benefits for all adults. According to dietician Lauren Graf, oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, absorbing bad cholesterol in the digestive tract. So the stuff that raised cholesterol levels is then eliminated from the body and not passed into the bloodstream.
Eating regular portions of oatmeal can also: reduce your chance of high blood pressure, provide antioxidants that fight free radicals, prevent arteries from hardening, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the chance of breast cancer.
We see onions out in the supermarket or on the table and use them a lot in recipes, but onions have a lot more to offer than just adding flavor to meals. Not everyone knows what their benefits are.
Onions can: enhance immune functionality, protect the cardiovascular and nervous systems, promote healthy hormone functions, reduce chances of food-borne illnesses, and prevent cancer.
Mango is beneficial to the immune system because of its high concentrations of vitamin C, vitamin A, and copper. But that’s not all. Mangos also have potassium, which helps promote heart health.
Mango also has antioxidants that help the body fight against cancer, pyridoxine, which is required for certain hormones to be produced in the brain, carotenoids that promote heart and overall health, and antioxidants that are essential for eye health.
Honey has been used as a natural remedy for many many years. It’s often added to hot beverages like tea to soothe coughs or aching throats. But the sweet result of those bees’ labor stretch further than that.
Honey can also: help in the treatment of indigestion or acid reflux, be used as an antibacterial to fight off viruses, be a boost to immune system processes, prevent a reduced white blood cell count, and be a possible relief for seasonal allergies.
Like flax seeds, hemp is full of essential amino acids. It contains all nine amino acids as well as a healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid balance. All of that contributes to brain health.
Other health benefits of hemp seed include: reduced gas and bloating when compared to whey, no phytic acid, which prevents your body from absorbing minerals, the stability of omega fatty acid balance, digestible proteins fuel the body efficiently, and improved immune system.
You see many salads in restaurants that use arugula, but it’s something worth buying and eating at home, too. Arugula is the part of the salad that looks especially leafy, and according to the Romans, regular consumption increases sex appeal.
Health benefits of arugula include: improved brain function due to a number of vitamins and minerals, help with maintaining weight by adding the low-calorie green to meals, improved bone health, prevention of cancer with antioxidants, and hydration.
Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins for skin health, and just one serving of almond milk has 50% of the recommended daily value. In addition to regulating skin health, there are many other benefits of almond milk.
Those benefits include: keeping eye functions at desired levels, maintaining strong bones, regulating blood sugar levels, maintaining good heart health and blood pressure levels, and muscles absorb energy necessary for repair and growth.
Don’t think you need to miss out on your favorite pasta dishes! You can substitute regular pasta for buckwheat, which is high in protein and harder to overeat. You can find it at most grocery stores.
The benefits of buckwheat pasta include: a lower risk of diabetes, improved cardiovascular health, phytonutrients that make the pasta as health-promoting as fruit, reduced chance of breast cancer, and increased digestive health, which helps boost weight loss efforts.
This is a type of dried berry that goes really well in trail mix. You can make your own trail mix with you’re your favorite nuts and dried fruit. Just don’t forget to add these little red powerhouses.
Goji berries have 18 amino acids, which mean the berries are a great source of protein, hunger reducing properties, only 35 calories, a boost for the immune and nervous systems, and increased brain and muscle functionality.
Diet experts have learned that monounsaturated fats that come in healthy nuts lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. So they’re essentially a heart-healthy snack. But they offer some other benefits, too.
The nutritional benefits of brazil nuts: selenium, which increases anti-oxidants in the body and fights heart disease and cancer, Vitamin E, a combination of vitamins and minerals that provide metabolic health, copper to prevent bone weakness and anemia, and manganese to help create superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant enzyme.
We’ve already mentioned how all berries are superfoods and provide some cancer-prevention properties, but black raspberries are some of the most powerful berries. You should definitely toss some into your next smoothie.
The antioxidants included are more than two times better at battling certain free radicals than those in other berry types. Black raspberries also have: high phenolic compound levels fight disease, the possibility to reduce tumor growth, high levels of ellagic acid, which acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and the possible reduction in the risk of esophageal and colon cancers.
Believe it or not, black pepper was once used as a currency in some nations! But we know it as a common, inexpensive spice that sits nicely next to our salt shaker. But black pepper brings digestive and other health benefits.
Add a pinch of pepper to your meal to: increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach to improve digestion, reduce intestinal gas, promote urination, stimulate fat cell breakdown, and add antioxidants to your recipe.
Peppermint has a number of digestive benefits, but the best ones may be its taste and smell. Add some jazz to a cold glass of water with fresh peppermint leaves or work peppermint oil into your favorite recipes.
Peppermint has been shown to be an effective natural remedy for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, indigestion, nausea, tension headaches, and a stuffy nose.
Soluble fiber (like oatmeal) helps regulate digestion, but insoluble fiber found in lentils prevents constipation and helps reduce the risk of disorders such as diverticulitis. Lentils have many health benefits and bring a lot to the table.
Other benefits include: reduction in the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels, increased energy from lean proteins, and help with weight loss because lentils are low in calories.
Pineapples are basically a digestive cocktail. The fruit contains dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and bromelain. They also offer moisture, all of which come together to improve digestive health.
Other health benefits of pineapple include: increased immune functions, lower cholesterol levels, a reduction of free radicals in the body, anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the chance of bronchitis, and reduced symptoms of sore throat or gout.
Tart cherry juice has one of the best abilities to absorb oxygen-free radicals among fruits, and it competes with other leafy greens when it comes to cancer and disease-preventing properties.
Other health benefits of tart cherry juice include: healthier cardiovascular function, healthier immune system, faster recovery from exercise fatigue, increased brain function, and healthier sleep patterns.
Sauerkraut most likely isn’t something you think of when you hear “superfood.” It’s even used often as a condiment for junk food. But any fermented food is good for the digestion, and sauerkraut has the added nutritional benefits of cabbage.
Health benefits include: bacteria that makes the food easy to digest, high fiber content that promotes regularity, high levels of anthocyanin and Vitamin K that promote brain health, compounds that dry, oily skin, and compounds that detox the body.
Spirulina is algae rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. You can buy it in pill, flake, or powder form and add it to smoothies or recipes. Researchers are trying to understand all the health benefits of spirulina, which could include treatment for HIV and herpes.
Its known benefits include: increased immune support, healthier heart functions, possible protection against allergic reactions, possible reduced risk of oral cancer, possible reduced risk of liver disorders.
Parsley is often used to decorate a dish, but it also has a fair share of nutritional power. The herb features a high concentration of important vitamins and minerals, as well as chlorophyll. Juicing is one of the best ways to receive all the health benefits of parsley.
Those benefits are: a reduced risk of heart attack through blood vessel protection and conversion of dangerous molecules, increased immune function, reduction of the damage done to cells by free radicals, reduced bloating during menstruation, and reduced urinary tract, kidney, or bladder problems.
Like parsley, wheatgrass is another superfood best enjoyed by juicing, but you can also purchase specialty food items that contain wheatgrass. Raw or juiced, wheatgrass has many health benefits. It contains an enzyme that breaks down superoxide radicals into a form the body can manage better, which slows the aging process.
It also has chlorophyll, which diminishes the impact of harmful bacteria, helping the body fight disease. Chlorophylls purify the body, especially areas such as the liver. Wheatgrass promotes heart health and better blood flow. And chlorophylls help the body manage blood sugar levels.
Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamins and minerals, which should be added to a low-calorie, high-nutrition diet for weight loss. In addition to being good for your waistline, the benefits of Brussels sprouts are amazing.
Brussel sprouts offer detoxification, antioxidants for prevention of cancer, anti-inflammatory properties, support of the cardiovascular system, and the ability to lower cholesterol.
Kale is a leader among superfoods, bringing benefits to the entire body. A high amount of Vitamin C boosts natural collagen, which increases skin elasticity. Kale is also high in copper, protecting your skin from exposure and inflammation.
Other benefits include: promotion of cell growth from Vitamin A, increased scalp circulation that boosts hair growth, reduced bloating, increased brain health and cognition due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, increased heart health due to high carotenoid levels.
Mulberries have plenty of vitamins and nutrients with only 43 calories per 100 grams of berries, making them a great snack or side dish for anyone who wants to lose weight. The health benefits of white mulberry tea are great, too.
Other benefits of dried mulberries include: protection against stroke, potential cancer prevention, removal of harmful free radicals in the body, protection for the eye from harmful UV rays, increased ability for the blood to carry oxygen.
Cilantro promotes fat reduction in the body, which means it a perfect herb for diet recipes. In addition to a tasty dinner, you’ll also reap all the other health benefits of cilantro.
Cilantro offers: a number of antioxidants, improved cardiovascular health due to help reduce bad cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, reduced anxiety and discomfort due to muscle-relaxing properties, and improved quality of sleep.
Coconut oil doesn’t have to be eaten to deliver health benefits. Rubbing coconut oil on your skin increases hydration and blocks harmful UV rays. Applying the oil to hair protects against damage, too.
But the health benefits of eating coconut oil include: a possible reduction in seizure activity, reduction in hunger, help fight bacteria and infections, increased energy, and therapeutic impact for some brain disorders.
You can take fish oil pills to get the benefits, but opting for the real thing in the form of wild-caught fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, or salmon is best. In addition to digestive help, fish oil has other benefits.
Fish oil benefits: Omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain health, reduced symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, lean proteins that fuel the body without adding weight, increased cardiovascular health, and possible help with cancer prevention.
Here are some superfood recipes that you can easily make at home…
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
4 tsp honey
½ tsp vanilla
4 tbsp dried cranberries
2 bananas , thinly sliced
4 tbsp toasted sliced almonds
Directions: In a large bowl, combine almond milk, oats, chia seeds, honey, vanilla, and cranberries. Spoon the mixture into small mason jars or washed jam jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Then before serving, top puddings with sliced bananas and almonds.
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
170-gram pack king oyster mushrooms
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce, divided
2 tsp honey, divided
¼ tsp salt
A pinch of pepper
4 skinless, boneless salmon fillets
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Directions: Preheat oven to 425F and spray a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Stir the broccoli, mushrooms, oil, 1 tbsp of the hoisin and 1 tsp of the honey on a baking sheet. Arrange them in a single layer on the sheet. Roast for 5 min. Stir remaining 1 tbsp hoisin and 1 tsp honey in a small bowl.
Push the broccoli mixture to one side of the sheet and arrange salmon on the other half. Brush with hoisin mixture, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Continue roasting until a sharp paring knife inserted into the thickest part of fish and held for 10 sec comes out warm (about 10 minutes). Serve with steamed rice and a squeeze of lemon.
1 cup quinoa
4 cups loosely packed mixed baby greens
4 medium hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 cup shredded beets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 apple, quartered, cored and sliced
¼ cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, optional
½ cup Balkan-style plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, chives, thyme and basil
Directions: Cook the quinoa following package directions, 15 to 17 min. Fluff with a fork. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, except herbs, until smooth. Stir in herbs. Divide the quinoa among four bowls. Top each with greens, 1 egg, beets, carrots, apple, and sunflower seeds, if desired. Serve with the Yogurt Herb Dressing.
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup 18% cream
1 670-mL jar passata
1/4 tsp salt
1 500-g pkg rigatoni pasta, or rotini pasta
1/4 cup chopped basil
Directions: Preheat oven to 450F. Brush garlic halves with oil, then wrap in foil. Roast in the center of the oven until cloves are tender, about 30 min. Cool slightly. Squeeze garlic from cloves into a large saucepan. Mash with the back of a fork until smooth.
Add the cream and boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 5 min. Whisk in pasta and salt and continue cooking, 5 min. Cook the rigatoni, following package directions but leaving out the salt, until tender, 14 min. Drain and add pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat.
1 bunch broccoli (about 7 cups)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
Directions: Preheat oven to 425F. Toss broccoli with oil on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 12 to 15 min, stirring once, or until tender and lightly browned. Sprinkle with lemon zest and toss gently to combine. Eat it warm or cold.
2 Italian sausages, casings removed
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 796-mL can diced tomatoes
1 900-mL carton low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry quinoa
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cups packed spinach
Directions: Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Crumble in sausage meat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink (3 to 5 min). Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pan. Cook until onion starts to soften, about 3 min. Add tomatoes, broth, quinoa, and Italian seasoning. Gently boil until quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach until just wilted (about 1 minute).
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped, shelled, raw, unsalted pistachios
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt
A pinch of granulated sugar
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
3 tbsp chopped basil
Directions: Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat until it bubbles. Add pistachios and sauté for 1 to 2 min or until butter is lightly browned and nuts are toasted. Remove from heat. Add vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to the frying pan and stir to combine. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and blanch green beans for 3 to 4 min or until tender-crisp. Toss beans with vinaigrette and basil.
6 kiwis, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt, preferably 2%
Directions: Stir the kiwi with honey and lemon zest in a medium bowl until combined. Alternate layers of kiwi and yogurt spooned into 4 glass cups. Serve immediately.
1 250-g butter puff pastry sheets, defrosted
2 large eggs
1 cup 10% cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
100 g bacon, chopped (about 4 slices)
1 cup sliced red onion
156 g baby kale, (8 cups, packed)
Directions: Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 9-inch metal pie plate or tart pan with removable bottom with puff pastry (carefully rolling or stretching dough to the right size). Trim the edges. Prick bottom and sides of crust all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 min or until lightly golden. Remove from oven. If it’s pulled up, use a fork to flatten dough and press back into place. Turn oven down to 400°F.
Beat eggs with cream until uniform, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place bacon in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté for 4 min or until the fat has rendered and bacon is beginning to crisp. Pour off all except 1 tbsp fat. Add onions and sauté for 3 min or until onions are lightly browned. Add kale and sauté for 2 min or until fully wilted. Remove from heat.
Scrape into prepared pie shell and spread into an even layer. Pour egg mixture over the top and use a fork to lightly stir, making sure that liquid is well distributed. Bake for 25 min or until filling is set. Let stand 10 min to firm up before serving.
1 cauliflower , cut into small florets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 large flour tortillas
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
3 cups baby spinach
Directions: Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Toss the cauliflower with oil, coriander, and cumin on prepared sheet. Spread in a single layer. Bake in center of the oven, stirring halfway through, until edges are golden, about 30 min.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Spray with oil. Lay 1 tortilla in the pan. Toss the cheeses together in a small bowl. Scatter 3 tbsp cheese mixture, 1/4 portion cauliflower, some spinach, and 3 tbsp more cheese mixture over half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla to enclose filling. Cook until underside is golden, about 2 min. Flip and cook another side until golden, 2 min more. Repeat with remaining tortillas and ingredients. (If the pan gets too hot, reduce heat to medium-low.)