If you want to get the most nutritional bang for your buck, the best deals are “superfoods.” These nutritional superstars are far more plentiful in nutrients than they are in calories and that research has shown deliver health benefits. You’re probably already eating a lot of everyday superfoods—like bananas, eggs and broccoli—and maybe even some exotic ones (acai, anyone?).
But what about the power-packed foods filled with good-for-you vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals you aren’t eating?
Here are some of the healthiest foods that you should be eating but probably aren’t (or at least aren’t getting enough of).
Honey is made by bees from the nectar they collect from flowers. Viscous and fragrant, it’s a natural sweetener and can be used just as it is to spread on bread or toast, or added to sweet and savoury dishes.
The flavour, colour and consistency vary, depending on the flower(s) the nectar was collected from and the production method used – as a general rule, the darker the colour, the stronger the flavour.
Honey is available clear and runny, thick and opaque, in a honeycomb or as a chunk of cut honeycomb suspended in runny honey.
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 by as much as half. Sulforaphane has also been found to kill the bacteria that causes ulcers. Broccoli’s also a surprising nondairy source of calcium and potassium, making it good for your bones as well as your blood pressure. Its vitamin C and beta-carotene protect your eyes from cataracts and safeguard your brain cells from memory-robbing attacks by free radicals.
Beans are in fact good for your heart, thanks in large part to their soluble fibre, which soaks up cholesterol so the body can dispose of it before it can stick to artery walls. Studies find that diets high in soluble fibre can cut total cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent. The same soluble fibre, combined with beans’ protein, makes beans beneficial to blood sugar. Their magnesium helps relax arteries, giving blood more room to flow and lowering blood pressure. Finally, a recent study ranked beans among the top antioxidant foods.
Despite their fat, or actually because of it, avocados can lower your cholesterol. Researchers find that replacing just five percent of your calories from saturated fat (think butter or cheese) with monounsaturated fat – the kind in avocados – could slash the risk of heart attack by more than a third. An added benefit: Avocados are also high in beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food, and the anticancer compound glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.
In addition to protecting your eyes from age-related macular degeneration, thanks to its carotenoids, spanish has high concentrations of vitamin K, which can help maintain bone density and prevent fractures. The green stuff is also a powerful source of potassium and magnesium as well as folate, all of which can keep blood pressure low, reducing the risk of stroke. Folate also appears to slash the risk of lung cancer in former smokers.
The olive (Olea europaea) is the fruit of the olive tree. It is an important food crop in countries around the Mediterranean sea, and places with a Mediterranean climate .
It is a healthy food but rather fatty. It has olive oil, one of the fattiest cooking oils in use, even more than palm, canola and other vegetable oils. Olive oil is the juice made by crushing olives. It is considered to be healthier alternative to sunflower oil.
The raw olives are very bitter. They are “cured” mostly by bacterial fermentation. Later they may be alternately washed with water and packed with salt. The procedures vary a lot, and different varieties of olives get different treatment. The bitter chemical oleuropein, a phenol compound, has to be broken down or removed. This is what the curing process does. Even so, olives still often do have a rather bitter taste.
Fresh and dried figs (Anjeer) are widely consumed in Mediterranean countries and it is popularly known as ‘the poor man’s food’. Fig fruit and its other parts such as bark, leaves, shoots, latex and seeds are medically important. Figs are an important source of antioxidants and consuming figs increases the plasma antioxidant capacity. Studies have shown that figs have purgative (laxative) and anti-pyretic (reduces fever or lowers high body temperature) properties. It is reported that figs include hypoglycemic, antibacterial, antiviral, hypotriglyceridemic and cancer suppressive effect. Fig fruit juice when combined with honey is used as an effective remedy for hemorrhagia. In addition to this, figs are also used as a diuretic and expectorant.
Figs (Anjeer) are fleshy, sweet, healthiest, multipurpose and delicious fruits. They are available in fresh as well as dried preserved form. Figs consists 62% sugar in the dried form and 22% sugar in the fresh fruit form. This fruit is processed and used for cooking pies, cakes, jams, puddings and preserves.