10 powerful foods that can help protect you against disease
Eat well, live well. Making smart choices about what you eat can help you stay fitter and healthier for longer, as certain foods contain disease-fighting vitamins and minerals that can ward off chronic disease.
Nourish your body with the right foods and you’ll look great, feel fantastic and keep disease at bay! Here are 10 powerful foods to include in a balanced diet.
Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These can help lower the blood fats and prevent blood clots associated with heart disease, making this a great option for a healthy heart. Eating at least two servings a week of a oily fish like salmon can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Eating your greens is an essential part of a disease-fighting diet. Spinach is loaded with vitamin C, iron, folate, magnesium and antioxidants. Eating magnesium-rich spinach has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a Harvard study.
Other dark leafy greens that help your body fight disease include kale and bok choy.
Blueberries are little powerhouses of nutrition which could help fight heart disease and dementia. They are one of the most nutrient-dense berries, containing high levels of manganese and vitamins C and K. Blueberries also contain anthocyanins, phytochemicals which eradicate free radicals, boost beneficial bacteria, and reduce new blood vessel formation, according to research from Massey University.
Meanwhile, a study carried out at the University of Cincinnati showed improved mental performance and brain function among patients with mild cognitive impairment after they were given the equivalent of one cup of blueberries to eat each day for 16 weeks. The improved memory and understanding patients showed at the end of the study suggests that blueberries may be effective in fighting dementia.
4. Black beans
As well as being fat-free and high in protein, beans are packed with folic acid, iron, magnesium and small amounts of calcium. They are ideal for weight management, as the bulk of the fibre keeps you full for longer without the saturated fat you get from animal protein. On top of that, beans keep you heart healthy. Eating beans regularly has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease, explains the American Heart Association.
Black beans are a top choice, as are kidney beans and legumes such as chickpeas and lentils.
While all nuts have health benefits, walnuts are the top choice for heart health. That is because they have higher levels of antioxidants than other popular nuts, a study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania discovered.
The mono and polyunsaturated fats that walnuts contain can also help lower cholesterol levels and ward off heart disease.
Beetroot packs a double punch nutritionally, as you can eat both the bulb and the leaves. The greens are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, while the root has lots of vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants.
The brightly-coloured vegetable can lower blood pressure thanks to high levels of nitrates, according to one study in the Journal of Nutrition. Whether roasted, juiced or added to a salad, beetroot are a great addition to a healthy diet.
Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, as it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s also chock full of iron, calcium, potassium, B-vitamins and magnesium, as well as anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Quinoa also contains nearly twice as much fibre as other grains – fibre lowers cholesterol and could help reduce high blood pressure, so it a great weapon against heart disease.
8. Sweet potatoes
Switch from white to sweet potatoes for a major health boost. The tasty orange tubers are full of vitamin C and E, and betacarotene, which turns into vitamin A when consumed and helps to promote healthy immune systems, eyes and skin. As an antixiodant, betacarotene also protects the body against cell-damaging free radicals, the University of Maryland Medical Center states.
The humble tomato is a fabulous addition to any meal thanks to the antioxidant lycopene, which may protect against some cancers. They are also full of phytochemicals, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Their versatility means they can be combined with other disease-fighting foods, such as quinoa or beans, for a nutritionally loaded meal.
There is a reason that flaxseeds have been cultivated for around 3000 years. These little wonders can help lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, WebMD says. Flaxseeds owe their health properties to high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids and lignans, a plant compound which could help protect against hormone-related cancers according to an article published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
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