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. (Or try one of these home remedies for UTIs.) 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 blueberries 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. And try these tricks to banish garlic breath.
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. Here's how to use olive oil for healthier hair and skin.
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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 three to four minutes until it’s crisp-tender to free up more of its sulforaphane. You can help prevent cancer with these 30 simple tips.
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, 1½ 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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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 lignans. 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. (Here are 12 other eating habits that could prevent 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.