The United States can be proud of its overall quality of life, but some areas of the world have much lower rates of some deadly diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. One reason: native diets which contain ingredients that are powerful weapons against disease, experts say.
Modern American diets, which include fried, processed, and nutrient-deprived foods, contribute to skyrocketing rates of many diseases, and adding a couple of tasty ethnic dishes to our weekly diets can help lower our risks of disease. Try these dishes from cuisines around the world and add some variety to your diet while you're fighting disease:
Pho. A Vietnamese soup based on rice noodles and beef broth along with a variety of spices that pack a nutritional punch including cloves, cilantro, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, coriander, garlic, and ginger.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years to ease tummy troubles, and it is an anti-inflammatory that may help treat arthritis. Some lab studies also indicate that ginger slows the growth of cancer cells.
Curry dishes. Alzheimer's rates in the United States are 400 percent higher than in India, and curry may be the reason. Curries are a traditional part of the Indian diet, and they're packed with antioxidant spices including turmeric.
Many studies have shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, protects against many diseases including cancer and Alzheimer's.
A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, found curcumin slows the buildup of amyloid plaques — one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's — in the brain, and a laboratory study at the University of Illinois revealed that curcumin protected cells from damage caused by beta-amyloid.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School showed that curcumin protected against the nerve cell damage associated with Parkinson’s disease, and numerous studies have shown curcumin fights many types of cancer including colon, pancreatic, and breast.
Tom Yum Goong. This spicy hot and sour Thai favorite combines shrimp along with zesty spices used in Thai cooking, including coriander, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and basil. A powerful mix of antioxidants, it boosts the immune system to help fight colds and viruses.
A joint study at Japanese and Thailand universities found the soup was 100 times more effective in inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors than other foods.
Horiatiki Salata. Greek cuisine is a part of a Mediterranean diet, and this Greek salad combines Kalamata olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and feta cheese. Tomatoes contain cancer-fighting lycopene, and heart-healthy olives fight heart disease.
Traditional Greek foods include dark green, leafy vegetables, olive oil, beans, and fish rich in omega-3 oils. A study at Harvard University found that a Mediterranean diet lowered the risk of heart disease and cancer by 25 percent.
Kung Pao Chicken. Authentic Chinese food is very healthy — heavy on nutrient-dense vegetables, such as bok choy, broccoli, snap peas, and bean sprouts, and light on meat.
Kung Pao chicken is made with roasted peanuts, chilies, and tons of vegetables, and little oil. Adding steamed brown rice as a side dish adds even more vitamins and fiber.
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