The foods we eat give our bodies the materials to function correctly. If we don’t get much-needed nutrition, we all know we will inevitably become overweight, undernourished, and at risk for diseases and conditions including heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. And as Hippocrates affirmed: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
In short, we are what we eat. what we eat is central to our health. So here are some excellent foods to consider adding to your diet.
This tasty fruit is a complete packet of health benefits. One medium banana contains roughly 422 mg of potassium. It also packs 10 mg of vitamin C. This antioxidant busts free radicals, which damage cells and contribute to heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer.
• Add a sliced banana to your PB&J. Or make your banana-cinnamon yogurt: Add a finely diced banana to plain Greek yogurt, plus a spoonful of honey with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.
A recent study shows that people with gout who consumed cherry extract had a 35 percent lower risk of attacks than those who did not. The Osteoarthritis Research Society reported that people who drank 16 ounces of tart cherry juice every day for six weeks felt less pain and stiffness. Cherries also contain anthocyanins, which may protect the heart, control obesity, and reduce the risk of diabetes.
• Add dried cherries to oatmeal, cereal, or trail mix, or serve as is with some cheese.
• Whipping up a cherry smoothie. Mix one small banana, ½ cup of frozen cherries, and ½ cup of low-fat milk (almond or coconut milk may also be used) in a blender until smooth.
Inside the layers lies a dense package of antioxidants and nutrients that can help prevent—and heal. For example, onion skin extract, a good source of the antioxidant quercetin, helps lower blood pressure. Onions are also packed with antioxidant vitamin C.
• Layering raw rings of onion onto your favorite deli meat sandwich.
• Grilling an onion: Slice onion into ½-inch-thick rounds, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, plus seasonings like thyme and garlic powder. Coat the grill rack with olive oil and grill the onion rounds over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side.
Beans are brimming with heart-healthy nutrients. According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming beans may also help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and control blood sugar levels because of their high fiber content. A cup of kidney beans offers 13 grams of protein, as much as 2 ounces of chicken breast, and a whopping 11 grams of fiber.
• Topping your salad with beans of your choice (chickpeas work well).• Stir up a black bean dip: In a food processor, blend two cans of drained low-sodium black beans, ¾ cup salsa, four minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp. fresh lime juice, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. water and 1/8 tsp. salt. Puree until smooth, add ¼ cup minced cilantro, and pulse until combined. Serve with low-fat tortilla chips or your favorite veggies.
Bugs Bunny had it right. Carrots are rich in vitamin A—a half-cup has 459 micrograms of the vitamin. For those aged 14 and older, the recommended daily amount is 700-900 mcg, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Vitamin A promotes healthy eyes and may lower cancer risk, says the NIH. According to the NIH, carrots also contain vitamin K. This vitamin helps maintain healthy bones to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
• Dip raw baby carrots into a ¼ cup of hummus or another bean dip.• Crispy carrot chips as a snack: Peel carrots, then use the peeler to create long strips. Toss the pieces with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them onto a baking sheet (making sure they don’t overlap) and bake at 425 degrees until crispy, about 10-12 minutes.
Cabbage makes a great base for recipes such as coleslaw and sauerkraut. Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbage offers anti-cancer compounds. Red cabbage contains anthocyanins, the flavanol that can keep your heart, liver, and eyes healthy. In sauerkraut, fermented cabbage is used as the base. Such fermented foods may help improve your gut health and alleviate mood disorders. Load up your plate!
• Topping a grilled chicken with tangy sauerkraut. • Wrapping chicken salad or other meat fillings in cabbage leaves instead of a standard tortilla wrap.