Food for Fuel: Top 10 Foods for Health

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Courtesy of Texas A&M Health Science Center

Open your fridge and what do you see? A way to fight cancer? A way to boost memory retention? Day in and day out, we put food in our bodies but might be unaware of the benefits to our health. With media and fad diets constantly advising us on what to eat, it’s difficult to sort out the good from the bad. If you’re unsure of how to fuel your body, these 10 foods with health benefits will be a game-changer for your healthy lifestyle.

Almonds
Go nuts with this healthy snack. Adding a handful of this antioxidant to your daily diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. A study in the Nutrition Research Journal suggests that diet quality improves when eating the tear-shaped nuts on a consistent basis.

Apples
While eating an apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away on its own, they are a good source of dietary fiber for your diet. One study found that compounds from apples can help slow aging and extends the length of your life. Additionally, eating the fruit more often can protect against stroke.

Avocado
This creamy, green fruit launched into popularity over the past few years and for good reason. Avocados are a great source of fat that lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease if substituted in place of other dietary fats.

Beans
Beans are truly the magical fruit. Providing health benefits for more than 10,000 years, beans are a common part of diets around the world. Beans contain protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals that help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Scientists recommend eating half a cup of beans per day to take advantage of their nutrients.

Blueberries
Blueberries are abundant in anthocyanins, which give the fruit a blue pigment and are filled with antioxidants. Studies show that these anthocyanins help reduce and prevent chronic inflammation. Additionally, it’s recently been suggested that increasing intake of blueberries can help with erectile dysfunction in men and short-term memory in children and elderly.

Broccoli
Add another scoopful of broccoli to your dinner plate tonight. This powerhouse vegetable contains many health benefits; it’s high in vitamin C and folic acid, as well as a good source of fiber and potassium. One compound in the green giant called sulforaphane can fight and treat cancers and reduce inflammation in chronic diseases like heart disease. In order to get the most out of your broccoli, avoid freezing or boiling the vegetable.

Cranberries
Like broccoli, cranberries have a wealth of health benefits. While active ingredients in cranberries are well known for treating urinary tract infections, these same ingredients can prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Additionally, cranberries can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and various types of cancer.

Leafy greens
Spinach, kale, and cabbage, often referred to as leafy greens, can pack a punch of health benefits if added to your diet. Filled with vitamins C, K, and E, folate, carotenoids, and fiber, studies show that leafy greens may help prevent cancer. For adults, the USDA recommends eating three to four cups of leafy greens weekly.

Oily fish
Oily fish is a great source of protein, low in fat, and abundant in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis, lower blood pressure and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The American Heart Association recommends eating 3.5 ounces of oily fish twice a week.

Sweet potatoes
While you might find this creamy orange vegetable on your dessert table at Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes have high nutritional value. Nutrients in the spud provide anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Even more, the leaves of sweet potatoes can be treated like leafy greens and help reduce malnutrition.