Blueberries have more antioxidants—those magical molecules that can help prevent a host of maladies—than 40 other common fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant plant pigments that make blueberries blue guard against heart disease, cancer and age-related blindness and memory loss. They’re also tops when it comes to preventing urinary tract infections, thanks to antioxidant epicatechins, which keep bacteria from sticking to bladder walls. How much? A 1/2 cup of blueberries equals one fruit and vegetable serving per day. Tip: Sprinkle blueberries on your pancakes at the last minute—cooking the berries destroys valuable vitamin C.
Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Most of
its disease-fighting potential comes from its sulfur compounds, which
act as antioxidants, providing many of its cardiovascular benefits. Just
six or more cloves of garlic a week can slash your risk of colorectal,
stomach and prostate cancer in half compared to eating one clove a week
or less. How much? Incorporate at least one garlic clove into your diet every
day.Tip: Chop or crush your garlic, then let it stand for
10 minutes to fully release its healing potential.
Press an olive and you get one of the healthiest fats in the world. The
main benefit of olive oil is that it lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and
raises “good” HDL cholesterol, thanks to its monosaturated fats. Olive
oil is also packed with antioxidants called phenols, which may protect
artery walls from cholesterol buildup. How much? Include up to 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your diet
Tip: Look for “virgin,” “extra virgin” or
“cold-pressed” oils, which are extracted by pressing alone. Solvents and
heat used to produce “light or “extra-light” oils destroy antioxidants.
Consider broccoli your Number One cancer-fighter, thanks to its sulfur
compounds, such as sulforaphane, which you can smell as broccoli cooks.
These compounds signal our genes to boost production of enzymes that
detoxify potentially cancer-causing compounds. Eat more broccoli and you
could slash your risk of everything from breast and lung cancer to
stomach and colon cancer. How much? A 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli is one fruit and vegetable
serving. Tip: Steam broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes until it’s
crisp-tender to free up more of its sulforaphane.
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Yogurt is a great source of bone-building calcium, but its real strength
lies in live beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, that keep down
the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut. Eating more yogurt could
help with inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, urinary tract infections
and vaginal yeast infections. How much? Three-quarters of a cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt with live
cultures is one serving of milk/dairy products. Tip: When coating chicken, pork or fish with bread
crumbs, replace the eggs used to moisten the meat with plain yogurt.
Oats’ cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering powers come from
beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. One cup a day of cooked
oat bran, 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal or three packets of
instant oatmeal provide enough beta-glucan to lower blood cholesterol by
about 5 percent and heart attack risk by about 10 percent. How much? Aim for 10 grams of soluble fiber each day. Cooked oats
contain 2 to 3 grams per serving. Tip: Buy the type of oatmeal you’ll eat. It doesn’t
matter if it’s steel-cut or instant.
A tablespoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled over cereal or yogurt provides
an easy 2.3 grams of fiber, often more than what’s in the cereal
itself. But flaxseed is most revered for its lingans. These act like
estrogen in the body, blocking estrogen receptors on cells and
contributing to reduced rates of certain hormone-related cancers, such
as breast cancer. Their anti-inflammatory power may also help keep
conditions from acne to asthma at bay. How much? Sneak 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed into
your diet daily. Tip: Make sure your flax is ground; otherwise, the
seeds will come out the same way they went in (whole), and you won’t
reap the health benefits.
Cinnamon is one of the most powerful healing spices. It’s become most
famous for its ability to improve blood sugar control in people with
diabetes. The spice can help prevent blood clots and has
antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to
conquer E. coli, among other types of bacteria. How much? As little as ¼ to ½ teaspoon of a day could cut
triglycerides and total cholesterol by 12 to 30 percent. Tip: Sprinkle some cinnamon on your daily coffee to
reap the benefits of this super-spice or add to chilis and hearty stews.