Poor diets and the cheap, low-quality (but tempting) foods that comprise them are often the source of diseases that befall us. Processed foods; foods coated with pesticides; foods loaded with sugar; foods packed with fat; foods high in calorie count and low in nutritional value – all these and more are often the culprit for what ails us. It only seems appropriate that if foods are the bad guys when it comes to sickness and disease, that we should turn to good guy foods to bail us out of disease prison. Likely, many or at least some of these potent disease-fighting foods are already tucked away in your kitchen or pantry, their disease-fighting capacity unknown to or forgotten by you. Now is the time for you to find out what they are – to develop a new appreciation for them, knowing what they can do to benefit you healthwise vs. just satisfying taste buds. Hippocrates, per blog.paleohacks.com, reportedly once said, ‘Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be they food. We couldn't agree with him more. Are you ready to eat yourself to good health and, in the process, add a few coats of armor to protect yourself from the biting nastiness of various diseases? We don't mean stuffing yourself silly; we're talking selecting carefully, mindful that colds and flus, and even diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, can be headed off at the pass with the right kind of eating.
Shooting Straight with SuperfoodsIn alphabetical order, here are 15 fabulous food fighters when it comes to fending off diseases:
- Avocados: One-half of a medium-sized avocado has four grams of fiber and 15 percent of the total recommended daily folate intake, per health.com. Avocados are free of cholesterol and loaded with monounsaturated fats and potassium, and are great for heart health.
- Beans For Protein: Loaded with a lot of good stuff, such as high-quality protein, folic acid, fiber and iron. Among other things, beans can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and manage blood sugar.
- Beets: Full of fiber and vitamin C, beets are packed with antioxidants, making this vegetable an effective combatant against heart disease and inflammation, as well as other conditions. If you're not sure what to do with them – how to be presented in a meal – try chopping some up and using as a salad garnish.
- Citrus fruits: Think grapefruits, oranges, tangerines and lemons. Together, or even individually, they can do a lot with their cholesterol-lowering fiber and inflammation-reducing flavonoids.
- Garlic and onions: We put them together here because they come from the same plant family – let's call them cousins. Both do a lot of good things for the heart and immune system. Garlic is probably better known when it comes to the health aspect, but note that onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid, per rodalesorganiclife.com, which helps keep our blood healthy and prevent clots.
- Ginger: Already known as good for queasy stomachs, ginger can help keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check and go to work on the inflammation associated with arthritis.
- Papayas: Consider this: they are rich with vitamin C, potassium and folate, as well as vitamins A and E – the latter two strong antioxidants that protect against heart disease.
- Peppers: Not just the hot and spicy ones, either. For example, sweet peppers contain dihydrocapsiate, which can block pain and enhance weight loss. The capsaicin found in spicy chile peppers can do the same thing.
- Pomegranates; As a matter of fact, these have been used for centuries, per rodalesorganiclife.com, as a folk remedy in locales such as Iran and India. Pomegranates are loaded with potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants, and can fight off some diseases, presumably to include Alzheimer's disease. Also found to be effective against S. mutans bacteria, which can cause cavities.
- Quinoa: Iron and copper are among the nutrients found abundantly in quinoa, which the ancient Incas described as the mother of all grains, per health.com.
- Sweet potatoes: Most effective when eaten with the skins still on. Packed with carotenoids and fiber, per blog.paleohacks.com, sweet potatoes can lend a hand in preventing degenerative eye disease, depression and heart disease.
- Turmeric: Used for thousands of years, such as in India as a healing herb in general. Among other things, it can protect the stomach as a safeguard against ulcers and assists in the digestion of fats.
- Walnuts: A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help in numerous areas – among them, cognitive function, cholesterol and blood pressure. Nuts in general are good for your health; just watch the calories.
- Watercress: A relatively unknown disease fighter, watercress is rich with vitamin K, which studies have shown to be effective in the prevention of hardening of the arteries and is deemed vital for strong bones. It also contains plenty of vitamin A, a robust antioxidant.
- Yogurt: It's full of probiotics – bacteria that reside in the intestine and have been proven effective in digestion, boosting the immune system, and in providing calcium, which also plays a role in bone health.