Want to feel better? Look no further than the end of your fork. While the benefits of a varied, minimally processed diet are well-known, certain foods are especially potent in alleviating and even preventing numerous ailments that afflict modern society, including cancer, heart disease, and other age-related illnesses. Here are 10 “super foods” that can boost your immune system, your brain function, even give you a youthful glow. No prescription needed, and no pesky side effects – just dig in.
The generous amounts of the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes help skin maintain its youthfulness, and may reduce the risk of developing heart disease, as well as several cancers, including breast, lung, and colon. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men who ate 10 servings of tomato-based foods each week lowered their risk of developing prostate cancer by 45 percent.
(such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel) are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation. They also lower blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels, and slow the growth of atherosclerotic plaque. People who eat fish regularly have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. A Harvard study found that men who ate fish more than three times a week cut their chances of developing advanced prostate cancer by 40 percent.
Like fatty fish, nuts are high in omega-3s, and are great for the heart and the brain. Many studies have shown that nuts lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol, reduce the risk of developing blood clots, and improve the lining of arteries. They also contain B vitamins and minerals, including selenium, and magnesium. Studies show that nuts aid the skin’s elastin and collagen to keep skin looking young.
All cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals. A compound called glucosinolate can help neutralize the cancer-causing effects of pesticides and herbicides, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of The Blaylock Wellness Report
Rich in an antioxidant called resveratrol that is an anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant, red grapes have been shown to extend the life span of test animals. Grapes contain several other powerful nutrients that keep cancer at bay, including bioflavonoids (especially quercetin) and ellagic acid.
Blueberries, raspberries, and other deeply colored berries contain phytochemicals known as flavonoids. These antioxidants have been shown to improve brain function and slow the growth of some cancers. Many berries contain ellagic acid, which also slows tumor growth.
Green and white teas contain large amounts of EGCG, an antioxidant linked to a lower risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and numerous types of cancer. In addition, tissues in the eye absorb antioxidants from green tea, which may ward against glaucoma. Studies have also credited green tea with regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and boosting metabolism.
Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that drinking three glasses of cranberry juice daily for a month significantly raised HDL ("good") cholesterol by 10 percent and lowered the risk of heart disease by 40 percent. Cranberries contain phytochemicals that have been found to block cancerous tumors in the head and neck as well as in the colon and prostate.
Garlic contains allium compounds, which keep carcinogens from entering cells. According to studies, garlic — as well as onions, leeks, and chives — lowers the risk of stomach and colon cancer. Other studies have found that garlic reduces cholesterol levels, and that it can thin blood more effectively than aspirin.
Studies suggest that antioxidant-rich chocolate has a low dose aspirin-like effect that could help prevent both heart attacks and strokes, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow. Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce stress hormones, enhance mood, protect skin from UV damage, strengthen tooth enamel, and even suppress coughs.