We’ve all heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” often oblivious to the true weight behind those words. It is true, certain foods (like apples) are nature’s medicine and their daily consumption affect our bodies in positive ways.
An apple, for example, contains antioxidant properties equal to 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C(1).
Here are five foods found to offer incredible health benefits and to add value to our daily diets:
Spinach offers nutritional values that go beyond simple nutrient contents. While the plant is rich in nutrients like plant-based folate and omega-3 fatty acids (which help reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis), it also has an effect on gastrointestinal health. Spinach is a good source cellulose, a plant sugar that our bodies cannot digest.
Unable to be digested, cellulose has a ‘passing-through’ effect in the intestines that helps clear them of waste that is stuck or has been stuck in there for some time. Diabetics in particular, receive a lot of benefit from spinach. The antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid in its leaves helps lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress (4).
Broccoli is a super-food that should absolutely be part of one’s diet. Not only does it promote cardiovascular health like most foods listed here, but it has a direct effect on the immune system. Sulforaphane, an antioxidant in broccoli, aids immune cells that fight the effects of free radicals, like tissue damage and aging by switching sets of antioxidant genes and enzymes(7).
Free radicals are byproducts of many chemical processes normal to our body and can even be inhaled from polluted air. In this manner, broccoli has a rejuvenating effect on the immune system. Other nutrients in broccoli such as vitamins A, C, D and K, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium, support body functions and help prevent circulatory problems associated with inflammation.
It is important to note that vegetables from the cruciferous family such as broccoli contain enzymes that interfere with the formation of thyroid hormone in people with iodine deficiency family can have a disrupting effect on the thyroid, cooking helps prevent this, for example cooking for 30 minutes significantly reduces the amount of goitrogens and nitriles. Supplementing with iodine or eating iodine rich foods can help prevent this as well. (7,8)
Chia seed effects on cardiovascular health and their overall nutritional value are recognized at a clinical level. A post from the Cleveland Clinic said- “We conclude that chia seeds are a safe and effective product for the treatment of cardiovascular risk factors”(5). Chia seeds are a source of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Hence they have a broad range of nutritional value.
Iron supports the blood, calcium supports bone density, fiber supports digestion, antioxidants and omega-3’s support the heart. The list goes on. It is important to note, however, that some people are allergic to the seeds and should avoid their intake. Aside from that, chia seeds are a good source of nutrients and a natural remedy for heart conditions.
This little super-food is loaded with antioxidants, and can help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory loss. In addition, they are rich in fiber, vitamin A and C, and can help boost cardiovascular health. Blueberries have the flavonoids, anthocyanins, that have a positive effect on animal cognition.
The role of blueberries in aiding cognitive function and memory loss are being intricately studied for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative condition expected to affect over 7 million people by 2025 (6). The consumption of these berries might very well represent a method to better our chances with Alzheimer’s disease as it becomes more relevant as time passes.
Olive oil is one the healthiest forms of fat out there. Its consumption is associated with lower blood pressure and with lower overall inflammation levels. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been linked to reducing levels of LDL(2), the “bad cholesterol,” which is a key contributor in the formation of plaques in blood vessels. It is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin E and K that contribute to olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.
But the greatest effect comes from oleocanthal, an antioxidant so powerful that its anti-inflammatory properties are compared to that of ibuprofen(3). Antioxidants in olive oil are linked with many of its medicinal properties that reduce the risk of circulatory-based conditions like heart attacks, strokes and arthritis.
So enhance your diet with these very healthy and helpful superfoods today!
- Boyles, Salynn. “An Apple a Day May Really Keep the Doctor Away.” WebMD. WebMD.com, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
- Kris-Etherton, Penny M., Thomas A. Pearson, Ying Wan, Rebecca L. Hargrove, Kristin Moriarty, and And Valerie Fishell. “High–monounsaturated Fatty Acid Diets Lower Both Plasma Cholesterol and Triacylglycerol Concentrations1,2,3.” High–monounsaturated Fatty Acid Diets Lower Both Plasma Cholesterol and Triacylglycerol Concentrations. American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 01 Dec. 1999. Web. 11 Feb. 2017. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/6/1009.long.
- L, Lucas, Russell A, and Keast R. “Molecular Mechanisms of Inflammation. Anti-inflammatory Benefits of Virgin Olive Oil and the Phenolic Compound Oleocanthal.” Current Pharmaceutical Design. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21443487.
- Ware, Megan. “Spinach: Health Benefits, Uses, Precautions.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 13 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2017. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609.php.
“Chia Seeds Supplement Review.” Chia Seeds Supplement Review. The Cleveland Clinic, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.
- http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/chia-seeds.aspx. “Blueberries, the Well-known ‘super Fruit,’ Could Help Fight Alzheimer’s.” American Chemical Society. American Chemical Society, 13 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.
- Champeau, Rachel. “Study Finds That Broccoli May Help Boost the Aging Immune System.” UCLA Newsroom. Science + Technology, 06 Mar. 2008. Web. 11 Feb. 2017. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-study-reports-broccoli-may-46578.
Shomon M (August 27, 2009). “What are Goitrogens and How Do they Affect the Thyroid?”. Thyroid Disease. About.com.
McDougall J (December 2005). “Thyroid Deficiency Strikes One in Six”. McDougall Newsletter. 4 (12).