Imagine a choice of foods that were tasty, nutritious and good for your health - i.e. they helped you maintain a healthy body weight, improved your overall mood, and reduced your risk of developing diseases.
This Medical News Today information article provides details on the top ten foods considered to be the most healthy, according to surveys and sources across North America and Western Europe.
1 - Apples
Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, which combat free radicals. Free radicals are damaging substances generated in the body that cause undesirable changes and are involved in the aging process and some diseases.
Some animal studies have found that an antioxidant found in apples (polyphenols) might extend lifespans.
Researchers at The Florida State University said that apples are a "miracle fruit".
In their study, the investigators found that older women who starting a regime of eating apples daily experienced a 23 percent drop in levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and a 4% increase in good cholesterol (HDL) after just six months.1
Recent developments on the benefits of apples from MNT news
Apples and pears can reduce stroke risk by 52%. Researchers from Wageningen Uninversity in the Netherlands, found that consuming fruit with white edible portions, such as pears and apples, can potentially reduce the risk of stroke by 52%. They reported their findings in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.2
2 - Almonds
Second on our list of top 10 healthy foods is almonds. Almonds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin. A scientific review published in Nutrition Reviews3 found that almonds as a food may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
The authors wrote:
"The message that almonds, in and of themselves, are a heart-healthy snack should be emphasized to consumers. Moreover, when almonds are incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet, the benefits are even greater."
Almonds have more fiber than any other tree nut.
The fatty acid profile of almonds, which is made up of 91-94% unsaturated fatty acids, may partly explain why it helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Recent developments on the benefits of almonds from MNT news
Appetite decreased by snacking on almonds, no increase in body weight. Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who ate 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day experienced reduced hunger and improved dietary vitamin E and "good" fat intake with no increase in body weight.4
Research review suggests almonds contain nutrients that provide cardioprotective effects. A scientific review, published in Nutrition Reviews, suggests that nutrient-rich almonds may promote heart health, and may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.5
Eating nuts every day may prolong life. Eating a handful of nuts a day could help you live longer and lower a your risk of death from heart disease and cancer, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.6
3 - Broccoli
Broccoli is rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, folate and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds which reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Broccoli also contains vitamin C, as well as beta-carotene, an antioxidant.
Note that boiling broccoli for too long can destroy much of its vital nutrients
A single 100 gram serving of broccoli can provide you with over 150 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which in large doses can potentially shorten the duration of the common cold.7
Another ingredient, sulforphane, which exists in broccoli, is also said to have anti-cancer as well as anti-inflammatory qualities. However, overcooking can destroy most of the benefits.
Recent developments on the benefits of broccoli from MNT news
Lightly steamed broccoli contains the powerful anticancer enzyme myrosinase. Researchers from the University of Illinois wrote in Nutrition and Cancer that lightly steamed broccoli can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancers (steaming it slightly does not destroy the enzyme myrosinase). However, if you overcook it the health benefits are undermined.8
Eating broccoli may help prevent osteoarthritis. A UK study found that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts, could help fight osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.9
4 - Blueberries
Blueberries are rich in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural chemicals found in plants.
Unlike minerals and vitamins that are also found in plant foods, phytonutrients are not essential for keeping us alive. However, they may help prevent disease and keep the body working properly.
According to a study carried out at Harvard Medical School, elderly people who eat plenty of blueberries (and strawberries) are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline, compared to other people of their age who do not.10
Scientists at Texas Woman's University found that blueberries help in curbing obesity. Plant polyphenols, which are abundant in blueberries, have been shown to reduce the development of fat cells (adipogenesis), while inducing the breakdown of lipids and fat (lipolysis).11
Blueberries may help in controlling body weight
Regular blueberry consumption can reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10%, because of the berry's bioactive compounds, anthocyanins, scientists from East Anglia University, England, and Harvard University, USA reported in the American Journal of Nutrition.12
Recent developments on the benefits of blueberries from MNT news
Blueberries and strawberries may reduce women's risk of heart attack. Women could reduce their risk of heart attack by as much as 33 percent by eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week. Researchers believe it is because these fruits contain high levels of dietary flavonoids known as anthocyanins.13
Could blueberries help treat Parkinson's disease?. Researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada suggest blueberries could help treat Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
5 - Oily fish
Examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies.
These types of fish have oil in their tissues and around the gut. Their lean fillets contain up to 30% oil, specifically, omega-3 fatty acids. These oils are known to provide benefits for the heart, as well as the nervous system.
Oily fish are also known to provide benefits for patients with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
Oily fish also contain vitamins A and D.
Scientists at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that prostate cancer progression was significantly slowed when patients went on a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements.14
Oily fish such as these mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Recent developments on the benefits of oily fish from MNT news
Eating oily fish could cut your risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Eating one portion of oily fish every week could reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by 50%, according to a study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.15
On the next page we look at numbers 6 to 10 in our list of the top 10 healthy foods.