How to Make These 8 Superfoods Even Healthier | Reader's Digest

How to Make These 8 Superfoods Even Healthier

Eating better has never been easier.

Adapted from Super Foods Super Easy
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    Blueberries

    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.

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    Garlic

    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.

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    Olive oil

    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 every day. 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.

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    Broccoli

    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

    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.

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    Oats

    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.

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    Flaxseeds

    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.

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    Cinnamon

    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.

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