Here are a few foods that pack an exceptional amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, including plant compounds called phytochemicals, that can help to lower your risk for numerous ailments, including cancer and heart disease. Here, some top nutrient-packed foods to incorporate into your diet.
Tomatoes: Studies show that eating tomato products may reduce prostate cancer risk, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now allows tomatoes and tomato-based products, like tomato sauce, to carry that health claim. The key ingredient: a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, also red peppers, watermelon and grapefruit.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens: Research shows that eating dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, may help maintain good health by reducing one’s risk of heart disease and stroke, some cancers, and several other illnesses. Dark leafy greens are rich in beta-carotene, folate, and vitamins C, E, and K, which help protect against free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cells). Regularly eating dark leafy greens may help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and promote normal eyesight.
Walnuts: Like all nuts, walnuts are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Unlike other nuts, however, walnuts are high in heart-healthy omega-3 oils, which have been shown to have antioxidant properties. Enjoy up to 15 walnuts a day as part of your nut/seed allotment. Other sources of omega-3s include flaxseed, and oily fish.
Blueberries: Studies show that a number of compounds in blueberries, including pigment-producing anthocyanins, are powerful in helping to prevent cancer. These anthocyanins may also protect against hypertension (high blood pressure). In addition, blueberries may help prevent cataracts and the short-term memory loss associated with aging. Other berries have antioxidants in smaller quantities.
Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries: These berries contain ellagic acid, a plant compound that combats carcinogens - substances that cause a normal cell to change into a cancerous cell.
Sweet potatoes: An outstanding source of carotenoids (including beta-carotene), as well as vitamin C, calcium, and potassium, sweet potatoes can help reduce LDL cholesterol, lower high blood pressure, fight cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and boost your resistance to colds and infections. Other good sources of beta-carotene are carrots, pumpkin and spinach.