Healthy eating has sadly become more of a fad than a remedy for our lifelong well-being, possibly due to the nature of marketing and the food industry, but none-the-less it can be a bit overwhelming. One of the ways this has occurred in most recent years is through “food cures,” or the idea that one food can make everything better overnight and suddenly give you perfect health. The reality is that all plant-based whole foods have their place in the diet and will provide benefits, though some do offer significantly more researched backed evidence than others, and each one may work differently for each person. Food remedies, or cures, should be taken with an analytical and simple approach. Anytime you hear about a natural food cure, it’s best to stick with the basics and choose foods you can find at any supermarket that have been consistently linked to health benefits.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds all come with different properties that individuals can benefit from. Let’s take a look at 10 that can easily be added to your diets for good health, no matter what the trend of the moment may be.
1. Oats for Good Heart Health
Oats have become quite the little health food star the last several years, though they’ve been one of the top whole grains recommended for good heart health for many years. Oats (and barley) are extremely high in one type of fiber known as beta-glucan fibers that have been proven to lower cholesterol and improve overall heart health. Oats are also high in vitamins and minerals that lower blood pressure which also improves the heart. This includes magnesium, potassium, calcium, B vitamins, and iron. They’re even a great alternative to meat since they have 5 grams of protein and contain only 3 grams of fat per half cup. So while some other grains may be more trendy, it’s hard to find many that contain as much scientific-based evidence for good health as the humble oat grain. Try all of our oatmeal recipes to start your day out with this simple, healthy whole grain.
2. Blueberries for Better Brain Health
We might like to try more exotic berries from time to time, but the truth is, it’s hard to go wrong for our health with the simple blueberry. This one berry has been linked to diabetes improvement by lowering blood sugar, but is most well-known for it’s ability to enhance brain health and prevent memory loss in conjunction with a healthy diet. The antioxidants known as anthocyanins that are found in blueberries are what make them so special because they help prevent oxidation and enhance blood flow to the brain.
3. Bananas for High Blood Pressure
Bananas aren’t just great at satisfying your sweet tooth or the portable snack; they’re also one of the best foods to quickly lower your blood pressure and are one of the top foods recommended on food plans to lower hypertension (chronically high blood pressure). The key nutrient for lowering blood pressure is potassium that bananas are so well-known for . However, it’s not just the potassium that make them so effective for lowering blood pressure; they’re also full of magnesium, a mineral that lowers your blood pressure and blood sugar, along with vitamin B6 that lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.
4. Almonds for Better Skin Health
Almonds are full of good fats for the skin membranes that will keep skin youthful and healthy and protein to boost collagen levels in the skin. These nuts are also a top source of vitamin E to prevent wrinkle and sun damage and are an alkaline nut, meaning they reduce inflammation and keep the body’s pH levels at a healthy level. All nuts and seeds will provide benefits for the skin, but when it comes to being the best, almonds sure take the win!
5. Spinach for Lean Muscle
Spinach is a great source of iron and protein, which makes it a top lean muscle-building food. It far outweighs kale in its protein content and is also much more filling. It has twice the amount of iron as kale, less than half the calories (not that you should count calories from kale, of course!), and has more magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin E. We love our kale, but when it comes to nutrient density, spinach is a total win for your health. It’s a top food recommended to bodybuilders because it’s not just full of protein, but also glutamine, a critical amino acid to help the body recover faster after workouts.
6. Walnuts for a Better Mood
Walnuts contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than any type of nut. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the brain and heart, and they also help the body produce serotonin to enhance mood health naturally. They’re one of the top foods linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s and depression, making them worthy of a daily part of your routine. You can snack on them raw, add them to any dish, or whip them up into a butter to use in place of peanut or almond butter if you like.
7. Pineapples to Reduce Inflammation
Pineapples are sadly avoided by many people because of their natural sugar content (even though a cup of pineapple has less sugar than an apple by half), but these tropical fruits are one of the healthiest and most alkaline you can eat. They’re particularly high in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which both work to help keep the body alkaline. Bromelain also helps digest proteins in the body and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent, while vitamin C reduces inflammation in the muscles directly and keep the immune system running well. Pineapples are a terrific option to help rheumatoid arthritis and gout, not to mention a great post-workout food to enjoy to help with muscle cramps and general inflammation.
8. Mint for Digestion
Mint isn’t just for freshening your breath, friends. This one herb is also a classic go-to for helping out with digestion too. It’s one of the most recommended tools for someone with IBS, indigestion, or general stomach upset. Mint helps reduce spasms in the digestive tract, alleviates gas and bloating, and can help your body with overall digestion before, during, and after meals. You can use fresh mint, peppermint essential oil, or try peppermint tea if you like too.
9. Brazil Nuts for a Healthy Thyroid
Thyroid health is of utmost concern for many people, and one of the key parts of taking care of your thyroid is to eat enough healthy fats. One of these is Brazil nuts, which is also rich in selenium, another critical nutrient needed for a healthy thyroid. Selenium improves thyroid function and also serves as a natural antioxidant. Brazil nuts contain your entire day’s requirements in just one nut, not to mention they contain more selenium than ANY OTHER FOOD! It’s also important to eat a well-balanced diet while taking care of your thyroid being sure not to shortchange your body of beneficial sources of calories, protein, vegetables, fruits, and other whole, plant-based foods.
10. Avocados for Better Heart Health
Avocados weren’t crowned the new apple without good reason this year. Science has shown these foods are a top nutrient-dense fruit we should all consider eating for lower cholesterol and better heart health. Low in sugars and high in healthy fats, they’re excellent for your blood sugar and appetite to keep you full and balanced, but they’re also filled with heart-healthy potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin B9 (folate) to take care of your heart and brain. If you’ve been feeling a bit achy and run-down, avocados are also one of the most alkaline foods you can eat (they’re not green for just any reason!) and a top source of vitamin E to reduce inflammation and care for the heart and muscles even further. See more reasons we love the avocado here and check out all our avocado recipes.
Adding these 10 foods to your day is guaranteed to provide health benefits, no hype needed. While they’re all-stars in their own light (and there are many other healthy foods with benefits), they are simple, whole foods that can be found at a store near you and don’t cost a fortune. Now, that’s what healthy eating should really be about!
Lead Image Source: Vegan Lemon Banana Ricotta Pancakes With Dried Blueberries