You are what you eat.
Take the old adage to heart when grocery shopping this week because the foods that fill the pantry (and fridge) may hold the key to a happier, healthier life. The following is an easily digestible list of disease-fighting foods recommended by nutritionist and “Today Show” consultant Joy Bauer. If you’re not eating these 16 secret weapons yet, you should be.
Carrots fight arthritis
Miniature or full, the size of the carrot doesn’t matter. These raw veggies boast high levels of vitamin A and beta carotenes to fight inflammation as well as antioxidants to shield cells from free radical damage. To get the most out of carrots, snack on them raw and even use them as a filler to help curb a hearty appetite.
Red bell peppers fight arthritis
This colorful produce pick edges out its yellow and green brethren in the race to provide vitamin C. This nutrient is paramount in keeping collagen, a major component of cartilage, healthy. Because heat can lessen nutritional benefits, we’d recommend forgoing the fajitas and opting for freshly sliced bell pepper spears.
Oranges fight arthritis
You already know oranges are packed with vitamin C to help kick colds and boost immune systems. But did you also know the citrus is high in beta cryptoxanthin? Both nutrients proactively reduce the risk for inflammatory disease, or if already diagnosed, they can slow progression and reduce pain. Squeeze fresh oranges into a nutrient-packed juice and skip the added sugar to keep nutritional benefits intact.
Cucumbers fight obesity
These green goddesses are high in water, potassium and vitamins C and K. This means cucumbers respectively battle dehydration, improve metabolic functions, boost antioxidants and increase proteins necessary for tissue building and blood clotting. Low-calorie cukes can be sliced up as a snack, tossed in a salad or entirely reinvented as a pickle.
High-fiber cereal fights obesity
Weight problem woes got you down? Add a low-sugar, high-fiber cereal to your routine. Products that boast 5+ grams of fiber per serving will keep you full longer and regular (if you know what we mean). But keep an eye on the calorie content — anything over 120 per serving may indicate high amounts of counterproductive sugar. Try as a dry snack or served up with fresh fruit for breakfast.
Omega-3-fortified eggs fight inflammation and migraines
Not all eggs are created equal. These specialty eggs are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation, which is especially helpful when fighting off migraines. Get creative with eggs and bake them into an avocado half or drop into a bell pepper to scramble up your breakfast routine.
Beans fight migraines
Somewhere there is a joke in here about “beans, beans the magical fruit …” But we’ll leave you to finish that as you digest the fact that legumes are loaded with magnesium. If you’re experiencing chronic headaches, bulk up on beans because deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to migraines. Beans are best when prepped from their dry state. Start with soaking, bring water to a boil and simmer till tender.
Oatmeal fights heart disease
Diehard oatmeal eaters know it’s a convenient, healthy breakfast, but most don’t realize it’s also a blood-cholesterol-stabilizing elixir. Plus, regardless if it’s steel cut, rolled or instant, all are packed with filling soluble fibers. Try mixing in an egg into almost-cooked oatmeal for a high-protein power breakfast.
Bananas fight heart disease
Go bananas because this versatile fruit is rich in magnesium and potassium. While both work together to proactively manage blood pressure, the latter can also aid in hangover-prevention. Treat yourself with a decadent banana split or mash a frozen one up with some peanut butter for a healthy “pudding.”
Brussels sprouts fight heart disease
With a rich history rooted in Belgium, these miniature cabbage-esque greens are an excellent source of fiber. Regularly popping a few Brussels onto your plate can significantly lower bad (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) cholesterol. Brussels sprouts are relatively low maintenance when baked. Try adding diced bacon (no than one serving) for a super savory twist.
Wild Salmon fights diabetes and heart disease
There is a grocery list of nutritional benefits packed into these fresh fishes — omega-3s, amino acids and vitamins A, B, D and E to name a few. Translation: Salmon has the power to do everything from improve brain performance to reduce cholesterol. Grill salmon to your liking at home or hit a local sushi spot to load up on the fatty fish a la carte.
Soybeans fight diabetes and heart disease
You should be two soybeans in a pod with these powerful little snackables. Soybeans are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and perfectly balance protein with “good” carbs (a.k.a. low-glycemic carbs). Try serving as a Japanese-inspired edamame appetizer or remove from the pod to incorporate into a bean chili.
Nonfat yogurt fights diabetes
Don’t stray from the dairy isle; in fact, make a beeline for the nonfat yogurt. The high calcium levels found in nonfat yogurt help with bone growth, while its inherent dairy-based benefits improve insulin sensitivity and control blood pressure. Plain nonfat yogurt avoids being a sugar-trap and is best served either sweet with fruit or savory with spices as a Mediterranean-style dip.
Turkey breast fights diabetes
Grab a turkey sandwich because the proteins in this lean meat slow the absorption of carbs into the bloodstream, which in turn prevents a spike in blood sugar levels. And don’t worry about the great tryptophan debate — the amino acid isn’t strong enough to affect you after a single serving. Tuck turkey into a to-go lunch wrap or sandwich to reap its benefits throughout the day.
Swiss chard fights diabetes
A leafy green akin to kale, Swiss chard has some remarkable benefits that are often outshined by its more celebrated cousins. It’s rich in beta-carotenes to aid in tissue repair and magnesium to control blood sugar, but also low on the glycemic carb index. Swiss chard is said to reduce the risk of diabetes by 33 percent. Try incorporating a cup blended into a post-workout smoothie.
Lifescript “16 Delicious Disease-Fighting Foods website” has many other interesting articles.