20 Good Foods for Your Health

  1. AVOCADOS – Creamy, succulent avocados not only contain the best kind of fat (monounsaturated oleic acid) but also help your body block the absorption of bad fats (cholesterol). They’re high in lutein, which aids eyesight, and in potassium and folate, which may reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. And they’re low in pesticides.
  2. BEETS – The pigment betacyanin, which gives beets their distinctive hue, is just one of several disease-fighting phytonutrients found in this root vegetable. Beets are also a good source of folate, which guards against birth defects, colon cancer, and osteoporosis, and are high in fiber and beta-carotene.
  3. HORSERADISH – Glucosinolate-rich horseradish fights cancer and kills bacteria. It’s also a good source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin C, which, among other things, helps maintain collagen.
  4. SWEET POTATOES – Whether orange or white, sweet potatoes contain phytonutrients that promote heart and eye health and boost immunity. They’re flush with beta-carotene (thought to lower breast cancer risk) and vitamin A (which may reduce the effects of smoking).
  5. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES – Cruciferous vegetables – cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli rabe – contain a powerful range of disease fighters. One particular hero, sulforaphane, may increase enzymes that lower the incidence of colon and lung cancers.
  6. BLUEBERRIES – Fresh or frozen, blueberries have sky-high levels of antioxidants, which combat the damage done by inflammation. Anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds that give blueberries their deep color, may have antidiabetic effects as well. And new research suggests blueberries might protect the heart from muscle damage.
  7. DARK, LEAFY GREENS – Dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard are an excellent source of iron (especially important for women), vitamin A, and lutein for eye health. Best of all, you know those omega-3s everyone’s talking about? They reside in dark greens (including seaweed, which is why they’re concentrated in fish).
  8. ALLIUMS – Alliums, the botanical family that includes leeks, onions and garlic, share many remarkable traits. They can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Research suggests they inhibit the growth of prostate, stomach and color cancer cells. They also have antibiotic properties – so they can ward off germs as well as vampires.
  9. WHOLE GRAINS – Don’t eat whole grains (such as buckwheat and quinoa) just because they are high in magnesium, B vitamins, fiber and magnesium. Do it because they taste great – nutty, buttery, earthy. And that, in turn, may actually help you to not overeat – one study found that people feel fuller after eating buckwheat than after eating other grains.
  10. SPELT – Like whole wheat, ancient spelt is sweeter, nuttier and higher in protein than its processed relatives. Both are also good sources of magnesium and copper.
  11. TURMERIC – Turmeric, used in holistic medicine as a digestive aid and wound healer, can also serve as an anti-inflammatory, so reach for the curry (turmeric is a primary ingredient) when nursing a toothache or sprain.
  12. OREGANO – Superstar levels of antioxidants mean that a half teaspoon of dried oregano has the benefits of a spinach salad. Oregano has the ability to act as an expectorant, clearing congesting, and can also improve digestion.
  13. CINNAMON – Cinnamon is the gold medalist of the spice rack, with one of the highest antioxidant levels of all herbs and spices. It also has a positive effect on blood glucose levels, so adding it to foods can keep you feeling steady and saturated.
  14. GINGER, CAYENNE & BLACK PEPPER – The heat on your tongue when you eat spices such as ginger, cayenne and black pepper is evidence of gingerols, capsaicin, and piperine, compounds that boost metabolism. They also have an aphrodisiac effect – but avoid consuming them if you’re bothered by hot flashes.
  15. MISO – Deeply flavorful miso, a fermented soybean paste, is a great source of low-calorie protein (two grams in a 25-calorie serving). It also contains B12 and is a good source of zinc, which helps the immune system function properly.
  16. YOGURT – Like the milk it’s made from, yogurt is a very good source of calcium, phosphorus and protein. Unlike milk, real yogurt also contains probiotics, the good bacteria your digestive system needs to process and benefit from all the other things you eat. One, Lactobacillus casei, boosts immune response.
  17. SARDINES – Wild-caught sardines are low in mercury (unlike some types of tuna) and high in vitamin D; a three-ounce serving has as much calcium as a cup of milk. Even better, they’re one of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s top picks for sustainability.
  18. CANNED SALMON – King, sockeye and coho salmon have more DHA plus EPA omega-3 fatty acids than almost any other seafood, as well as some of the lowest mercury levels. Nutritionally, wild-caught Alaskan canned salmon is as good as fresh, and it costs a fraction as much. The Monterey Bay Aquarium also champions this fish’s sustainability.
  19. SESAME SEEDS – Tiny, tasty sesame seeds contain unique lignans (or plant compounds), including sesamin and sesamolin, which can help lower cholesterol. The seeds are a good source of calcium, phosorphorus and zinc – as well as copper, which research suggests may help maintain strong bones.
  20. WALNUTS – Of all nuts, walnuts contain the most alpha-linolenic omega-3 fatty acids, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and may reduce inflammation in arteries. Walnuts are also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium and magnesium.
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About Chef Ro

I am executive chef of Barcellona Bites, a boutique catering and personal chef service in Folsom, CA. I am also a wife, mom of two college-aged daughters in the Pacific Northwest, yogi and animal lover. Please LIKE my facebook page for tasty recipes, helpful information and kitchen, cooking and lifestyle tips. www.facebook.com/barcellonabites
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