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Continuing our look at the health benefits of popular foods. Here we look at foods beginning with E to O.
Edamame is a young soybean that has been harvested before the beans have had a chance to harden. You can buy them shelled or in the pod, fresh or frozen.
The potential health benefits of edamame include maintaining the correct blood pressure, helping with depression, promoting fertility and decreasing bone loss.
The eggplant, also known as aubergine, garden egg, guinea squash, melongene and brinjal, is usually distinguishable by its signature egg-like shape and vibrant purple color.
The potential health benefits of eggplant, include supporting heart health, maintaining weight and blood cholesterol levels and exhibiting anti-cancer effects.
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.
Studies have associated grapes with the prevention of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and constipation as well as decreasing the risk of obesity and overall mortality.
Grapefruits are low in calories but full of nutrients. They support clear, healthy skin, help to lower our risk for many diseases and conditions and may even help with weight loss as part of an overall healthy and varied diet.
The potential health benefits of grapefruit include boosting weight loss, maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart health and combating free radicals.
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.
The mango is a member of the drupe family, a type of plant food in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell (what we sometimes call a pit) with a seed inside. Olives, dates and coconuts are also types of drupes.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like mangoes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
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.
Mint, also known as mentha, is actually a genus or group of around 15-20 types of plants including peppermint and spearmint. Mint oil is often used in toothpaste, gum, candy and beauty products while the leaves are used either fresh or dried for teas and food.
Mushrooms, though classified as vegetables in the food world, are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom and although they are not vegetables, mushrooms provide several important nutrients.
The potential health benefits of mushrooms including assisting in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, regulating blood pressure and improving immune response to infection.
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
Onions can vary in size, shape, color and flavor. The most common types are red, yellow and white onion. Flavors can vary from sweet and juicy with a mild flavor to sharp, spicy, and pungent, often depending on the season in which they are grown and consumed. It is estimated that 105 billion pounds of onions are harvested each year worldwide.
The possible health benefits of consuming onions include lowering the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood and maintaining the health of skin and hair
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
On the final page we look at the health benefits of popular foods from P to W, including potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, strawberries and watermelon (amongst many others).