Lifestyle

Healthiest Foods of All Time

by Alexandra Sifferlin • 06 May 2017

Bananas

Why they’re good for you: While this tropical fruit is an American favorite, bananas are actually classified as an herb, and the correct name of a “bunch” of bananas is a “hand.” Technicalities aside, bananas are an excellent source of cardioprotective potassium. They’re an effective prebiotic, enhancing the body’s ability to absorb calcium, and they increase dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin – brain chemicals that counter depression.

Serving size: one medium banana

Raspberries

Why they’re good for you: Raspberries come in gold, black and purple varieties, but red are the most common. Research suggests eating raspberries may help prevent illness by inhibiting abnormal division of cells, and promoting normal healthy cell death. Raspberries are also a rich source of the flavonoids quercetin and gallic acid, which have been shown to boost heart health and prevent obesity and age-related decline.

Serving size: one cup of raspberries

Oranges

Why they’re good for you: Oranges are one of the most potent vitamin C sources and are essential for disarming free-radicals, protecting cells, and sustaining a healthy immune system. Oranges contain a powerful flavonoid molecule called hesperidin found in the white pith and peel. In animal studies, hesperidin has been shown to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. So don’t peel all the pith from your orange. Consider adding zest from the skin into your oatmeal for a dose of flavor and health.

Serving size: one large orange

Kiwi

Why they’re good for you: Ounce for ounce, this fuzzy fruit—technically a berry—has more vitamin C than an orange. It also contains vitamin E and an array of polyphenols, offering a high amount of antioxidant protection. Fiber, potassium, magnesium and zinc—partly responsible for healthy hair, skin and nails—are also wrapped up in this nutritious fruit.

Serving size: one kiwi

Pomegranates

Why they’re good for you:Pomegranates tend to have more vitamin C and potassium and fewer calories than other fruits. A serving provides nearly 50% of a day’s worth of vitamin C and powerful polyphenols, which may help reduce cancer risk.

Serving size: one cup of pomegranate seeds

Blueberries

Why they’re good for you: Blueberries are rich in a natural plant chemical called anthocyanin which gives these berries their namesake color. Blueberries may help protect vision, lower blood sugar levels and keep the mind sharp by improving memory and cognition.

Serving size: one cup of blueberries

Grapefruit

Why it’s good for you: Grapefruit may not be heralded as a “superfruit,” but it should be. Available in white, pink, yellow and red varieties, grapefruit is low in calories and loaded with nutrients, supporting weight loss, clear skin, digestive balance, increased energy and heart and cancer prevention.

Tangerine

 

Why they’re good for you: A tangerine has more antioxidants than an orange, and this powerful little fruit is full of soluble and insoluble fiber that play a role in reducing disease risk and supporting weight management. Tangerines are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which help lower the risk of chronic eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Animal studies have suggested that flavonoids found in tangerines may be protective against type 2 diabetes and heart disease, so use the zest on fruit and vegetables to reap the benefits of the fruit’s natural oils.

Serving size: one small tangerine

Avocado

Why it’s good for you: Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, many of which are easily absorbed by the body. Simply substituting one avocado for a source of saturated fat (such as butter or full fat cheese) may reduce your risk of heart disease, even without weight loss.

Serving size: one avocado

Tomatoes

Why they’re good for you: Tomatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re rich in lycopene, a potent weapon against cancer. As one of the carotenoid phytochemicals (related to beta-carotene), lycopene appears to protect our cells’ DNA with its strong antioxidant power. Lycopene has also shown the ability to stimulate enzymes that deactivate carcinogens.

Serving size: one medium tomato

Eggplant

Why it’s good for you: Deep-purple eggplant is classified as a nightshade vegetable, kin to the tomato and bell pepper. Purple foods can be a powerful weapon in fighting heart disease since they’re a rich source of phytonutrients—naturally occurring plant chemicals that have disease-protecting capabilities. One in particular, chlorogenic acid, is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues.

Serving size: one cup cooked eggplant

Swiss chard

Why it’s good for you: When it comes to nutrition, this is no lightweight. Swiss chard contains betalains (also found in beets), vitamins A, C , E and K, magnesium, potassium, fiber, calcium, choline, a host of B vitamins, zinc and selenium.

Serving size: one cup of raw swiss chard

Mushrooms

Why they’re good for you: Mushrooms are a rich source of ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may help fight cancer. Mushrooms are also a source of riboflavin, a vitamin that supports the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms. They are the highest vegan source of vitamin D.

Serving size: one cup of raw mushrooms

Kale

Why it’s good for you: This dark green leafy vegetable is akin to Mother Nature’s sunglasses. Rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, kale delivers these pigments to the retina which absorb the sun’s damaging rays. Nutrients in kale have also been shown to lower cancer risk, support bone health and aid in natural detoxification.

Serving size: one cup of raw kale

Broccoli Sprouts

Why they’re good for you: Our skin, lungs, kidneys and liver are constantly detoxifying, but it’s nice to lend a helping hand. Eating broccoli sprouts, which look similar to alfalfa, may do just that. Rich in natural plant chemicals, broccoli sprouts may have cancer-fighting and antioxidant capabilities that help our cells protect us from disease.

Garlic

Why it’s good for you: This pungent little allium has serious health merits, packing both flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients that bolster immunity and support healthy joints. It’s well-known for its cardioprotective benefits, and garlic is also an effective antiviral.

Serving size: one clove

Spinach

Why it’s good for you: Spinach is among the top greens for folate, and contains high amounts of vitamin A, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and selenium which offers antioxidant protection and supports thyroid function.

Serving size: one cup of raw spinach

Onions

Why they’re good for you: Alliums like onions are rich in healthy, sulfur-containing compounds which are also responsible for their pungent smell. Onions are good sources of vitamins C and B6, manganese, potassium and fiber. They’re also a superb source of the antioxidant quercetin. While research is inconclusive, quercetin is suspected of supporting heart health, combating inflammation and reducing allergy symptoms.

Serving size: one cup of cooked onions

Tuna

Why it’s good for you: Experts recommend the general population, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood weekly to boost brain health and avoid the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Choosing fish rich in essential Omega-3 fatty acids like tuna–and even canned tuna–can promote immunity, heart health and may even lessen postpartum depression. Don’t go overboard, though—tuna can be high in mercury.

Serving size: 3 oz.

Anchovies

Why they’re good for you: This bite-sized fish shows up in many signature dishes from Italy, Thailand, Spain and Korea. Just three ounces of Anchovies offer 19 grams of protein, as well as B vitamins, calcium, iron and omega-three fatty acids. They’re also low in mercury.

Serving size: five anchovies from a can

Salmon

Why it’s good for you: As we age, both intrinsic (our DNA) and extrinsic factors (the sun) take their toll. Skin can become dull, patchy, spotted and wrinkled, and while you might be tempted to go for a fancy face cream, what you eat may bring more potent results. How? Omega-3s in foods like salmon may help reduce dryness (from atopic dermatitis and psoriasis) and may even reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Serving size: 3 oz, cooked


   



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Sifferlin


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