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Though the field of medicine continues to advance and branch out in so many ways, nutritionists and health experts continue to praise the benefits of certain foods. In fact, eating healthfully has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular illnesses and even certain types of cancer.1
However, understanding which foods to eat for specific benefits can sometimes be difficult, which is why Medical News Today previously supplied a list of the top 10 healthy foods.
Now, MNT specifies the health benefits of a much wider range of foods, providing a cornucopia of delicious and nutritious options for individuals who wish to boost their health by eating healthfully.
Food products mentioned in this article include: almonds, apples, asparagus, bananas, basil, broccoli, carrots, celery, chives, chocolate, cinnamon, cranberries, flaxseed, garlic, ginger, grapes, green tea, honey, kale, kiwifruit, milk, milk alternatives, oats, oily fish, olive oil, oranges, oregano, papaya, peaches, peppermint, quinoa, rosemary, sage, spearmint, spinach, strawberries, thyme, tomatoes and watermelons.
Below is a list of the food products along with information regarding their potential health benefits. Note that this article contains summaries and you should click through to read individual articles containing the full list of possible health benefits.
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, good quality protein, and healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
Studies have revealed that almonds can potentially help prevent cardiovascular heart diseases2, cut the risk of cancer3, and help prolong life.4
Apples are sometimes called "nutritional powerhouses" because of their impressive nutritional profile.
Apples are rich in Vitamin C (a powerful natural antioxidant), B-complex vitamins, dietary fiber, phytonutrients (which help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals), and minerals such as calcium and potassium.5
Asparagus is very rich in dietary fiber and contains high levels of vitamin B6, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
The potential health benefits of asparagus include: reducing the risk of diabetes, preventing kidney stones, and reducing the risk of neural tube defects in babies.
Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium and is very rich in potassium.
Basil is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Broccoli contains high levels of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and is a rich source of vitamin-C.
In addition, broccoli is rich in vitamin A, iron, vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, zinc, phosphorus and phyto-nutrients.
Studies have found that broccoli can potentially help prevent osteoarthritis12, protect your skin against the effects of UV light13, reverse diabetes heart damage14, and reduce bladder cancer risk.15
Carrots are a great source of vitamin A. They provide 210% of the average adult's needs for the day.
The potential health benefits of carrots include: preventing lung cancer16, destroying leukemia cells and inhibiting their progression17, and helping to restore vision.18
Celery is a very rich source of antioxidants and vitamin K.
The potential health benefits of celery include: lowering blood pressure, preventing cancer, and soothing joint pain.
Chives are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that while they are low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Chocolate is rich in antioxidants. Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, there are a number of health benefits being associated with its consumption.
The potential benefits of eating chocolate are said to include: lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Studies have found that cinnamon can potentially be effective against HIV19, improve glucose and lipids levels in patients with type 2 diabetes20, help prevent Alzheimer's disease,21 and stop the destructive process of multiple sclerosis (MS).22
In addition, researchers at Penn State found that consuming cinnamon can help reduce the body's negative responses to eating high-fat meals.23
Coffee is one of the main sources of antioxidants in the U.S.
The potential health benefits of drinking coffee include: protecting against type 2 diabetes24, preventing Parkinson's disease25, lowering the risk of liver cancer26, preventing liver disease27, and promoting good heart health.28
Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and vitamin E.
Studies have found that cranberries can potentially be effective at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)29, slowing tumor progression30, preventing urinary tract infections31, and can benefit oral health by preventing bacteria from binding to teeth.
Flaxseed is not only "an excellent source of two fatty acids that are essential for human health - linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid," but also "an excellent source of fiber and a good source of minerals and vitamins", according to the American Nutrition Association.32
The potential health benefits associated with flaxseed include: lowering cholesterol33, protecting against cancer34, preventing hot flashes35, and improving blood sugar levels.36
Garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart.
Studies have found that garlic can potentially be a very powerful antibiotic37, help protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack38, lower the risk of developing lung cancer39, and reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure levels.40
Ginger contains a chemical which is used as an ingredient in antacid, laxative and anti-gas medications.
Studies have found that ginger can potentially prevent inflammation of the colon43, reduce exercise-induced muscle pain44, help alleviate nausea caused by chemotherapy45, and reduce the severity of period pains.46
The portability, texture, flavor and variety of grapes have made them a popular finger food in countries all over the world.
Green tea may well be one of the world's healthiest drinks and contains the highest amount of antioxidants of any tea.
Studies have found that drinking green tea is associated with a reduced risk of stroke41, and may help fight prostate cancer.42
Honey possesses antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
Studies have found that honey can potentially help prevent GERD (gastroesophageal reflux)47, shorten the duration of bacterial diarrhea48, help heal burns49, minimize seasonal allergies50, and fight off infections.51
Kale is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, calcium, and vitamin C.
The potential health benefits of kale include: reducing the risk of certain cancers, lowering the risk of coronary artery disease, and lowering levels of bad cholesterol.
Kiwis are a nutrient dense food, meaning they are high in nutrients and low in calories. The kiwifruit is higher in vitamin C per ounce than most other fruits.
The potential health benefits of eating kiwis include: maintaining healthy skin tone and texture, reducing blood pressure and preventing heart disease and stroke.
Dairy products like milk are the best dietary sources of calcium. Calcium has many functions in the body but its primary job is the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Calcium is also important for blood clotting and wound healing, maintaining normal blood pressure, and muscle contractions including heartbeat.
Milk also provides magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12.
The potential health benefits of milk include: maintaining bone, blood pressure and heart health and providing an increase in vitamin D. Deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with depression, chronic fatigue and PMS.
There are many reasons you might search for an alternative for dairy, the most common being allergies, lactose intolerance and following a vegan diet.
Some people choose to not consume dairy in order to follow a vegan diet, which avoid any foods that come from an animal, including milk, cheese, eggs and honey. Others may cut dairy out of their diet in order to avoid hormones and antibiotics in conventional milk, as an acne treatment, or when following the popular "Paleo" diet.
Soy isoflavones have been shown to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and at least 10mg per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%. Increased soy consumption may be beneficial for menopausal women.
Oats contain high levels of a type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is known to help lower levels of bad cholesterol.
The potential health benefits of oats include: reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, lowering the risk of colorectal cancer, and lowering blood pressure.
Oily fish, such as salmon or mackerel, are an excellent source of omega-3 oils and lean protein.
Potential health benefits of eating oily fish include: preventing cardiovascular disease52, reducing your risk of rheumatoid arthritis53, boosting infant sensory, cognitive, and motor development54, improving memory55, protecting vision56, and preventing oral and skin cancers.57
People who regularly consume olive oil are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).58
In addition, olive oil intake may help treat inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels), thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism.58
An orange has over 170 different phytochemicals and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and strong antioxidant effects.
Oranges also contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium and copper. Because of their high vitamin C content (over twice the daily need) oranges are associated with boosting the immune system.
Oregano is a rich source of vitamin K and dietary antioxidants.
Studies have found that oregano has antimicrobial activity59, anti-inflammatory properties60, and components in oregano may help slow down or prevent the progression of disease in patients with breast cancer.61
Papayas grow in tropical climates and are also known as papaws or pawpaws.
The possible health benefits of consuming papaya include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, aiding in digestion, improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering blood pressure, and improving wound healing.
Peaches are a characteristically fuzzy fruit native to northwest China. They are a member of the stone fruit family, meaning that they have one large middle seed, along with cherries, apricots, plums and nectarines.
One medium peach contains 2% or more daily value of vitamins E and K, niacin, folate, iron, choline, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper. They have been shown to ward off obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Peppermint is used as a traditional or folk remedy for several conditions and illnesses because of its calming effects.
The potential health benefits of peppermint include: treating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)62, calming skin irritation and itchiness, preventing the onset of headaches and associated symptoms.63
Nutritionally, quinoa is considered a whole grain. Whole grains include the entire intact grain seed without removing any of its parts. In contrast, when grains are milled or refined like white breads, white rice, and white pasta, they have been processed to create a finer, lighter texture.
Consuming 2-3 servings of whole grain foods per day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer and obesity. Many studies have shown that as whole grain intake increases, the risk for all five of these lifestyle-related conditions decreases.
Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Studies have found that rosemary may potentially help treat indigestion64, enhance memory and concentration65, provide neurological protection66, and provide protection against macular degeneration.67
Sage is rich in antioxidants (apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin) and important nutrients, such as vitamin K.
Studies have found that sage may potentially improve memory and information processing among people who suffer from mild Alzheimer's disease68, and help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in patients with diabetes type 2.69
Spearmint contains high amounts of vitamins, antioxidants and other vital nutrients.
Studies have found that spearmint may potentially have antioxidant and antifungal properties70, reduce symptoms of nausea and other digestive problems71, and treat hirutism (abnormal hair growth).72
Spinach one of the best sources of dietary magnesium and calcium.
The potential health benefits of spinach include: helping manage diabetes, helping preventing cancer, reducing the risk of asthma, lowering the risk of blood pressure, and improving bone health.
Strawberries are one of the most popular, refreshing and healthy treats on the planet and contain many vitamins and antioxidants that can be beneficial for your health.
The potential health benefits of strawberries include: reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, blood pressure, constipation, allergies, diabetes and depression.
Thyme preparations may be more effective than acne prescription creams, according to scientists at Leeds Metropolitan University in England.73
Studies have found that thyme may potentially protect against hypertension74, help fight off foodborne bacterial infections75, and induce cell death in the breast cancer cells.76
The tomato has been referred to as a "functional food," a food that goes beyond providing just basic nutrition, additionally preventing chronic disease and delivering other health benefits, due to beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene.
Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein.
The benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including tomatoes, are infinite. As plant food consumption goes up, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer goes down.
Watermelons are a very good source of vitamin C and vitamin A (which promotes good eyesight).
The potential health benefits of watermelons include: preventing cardiovascular disease77, and relieving muscle soreness.78
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
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Nordqvist, Joseph. "What are the health benefits of popular foods?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2 Feb. 2014. Web.
20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269143>
Nordqvist, J. (2014, February 2). "What are the health benefits of popular foods?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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