8 Foods that heal you
There are foods that harm - Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and snacks loaded with MSG, we're looking at you - and then there are foods that heal, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out which foods are good for you. But there are some foods out there which have amazing healing powers that you may not be aware of, and if you're suffering from a specific complaint or condition, or taking steps to reduce your risk of various diseases, then adding these 8 foods to your diet could help.
Spices have been used worldwide for their medicinal purposes for thousands of years and turmeric is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, which it gets from the compound curcumin; that's what gives it that distinctive orange-yellow colour. 100g of turmeric contains around 3 to 5g of curcumin. The spice has been used in India for thousands of years and you can add it to rice for flavour and yellow colour, use it in soups and stews or sprinkle it on roast veggies. Turmeric can reduce inflammation, which can in turn lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. It can also help to neutralise free radicals as curcumn is a powerful antioxidant (1). There's even evidence to suggest that adding it to your food could help treat rheumatoid arthritis (2).
We love bananas, whether they're added to a smoothie or protein shake, chucked into some simple flour-free pancake mix or enjoyed as a healthy post-workout snack. We already know that the potassium in bananas is seriously good for heart health, but did you know that bananas are a great choice of snack if you are suffering from stress and anxiety? The average banana contains 105 calories and 30% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. This helps the brain produce serotonin, the hormone which helps you chill out and handle a crisis. So next time you need a mood boost, reach for a banana!
If you suffer from high blood pressue or have a family history of heart disease, try munching on a handful of raisins. With 212mg potassim and 1g fibre, the polyphenols in raisins can help to promote a healthy heart, reducing blood pressure. Of course, other grape containing products, such as wine, have the same effect - that's not such a healthy choice though! Studies have revealed that eating raisins 3 times a day could reduce your blood pressure significantly. They're also high in antioxidants and contain the mineral boron, important for healthy joints and bones. Try adding some to trail mix, topping your morning granola with a few or just enjoying a handful as a healthy snack - as an added bonus, they can also help to keep you regular!
Kidney stones are created when waste products in the blood form crystals in the kidneys. If you're often dehydrated or are taking some types of medication, you could be more prone to kidney stones and they are fairly common, usually affecting people aged 30 to 60. Whilst most are small enough to pass in your urine, larger kidney stones may need medical treatment or even surgery. Staying hydrated can help reduce your risk, but eating a handful of dried apricot halves could also be beneficial. A portion of 8 apricot halves contains 325mg potassium, 3mg sodium and 2g of fibre - this can help to prevent calcium oxalate stones (the most common type of kidney stone) from forming.
Cabbage is a rather under-rated vegetable - and that could be because as children, many of us experience boiled, bitter cabbage with no flavour, or nutrients! But you can make a delicious fresh slaw with red or white cabbage, or shred it and add it to soups and stir-fries - it's great for gastro-intestinal health. In fact, a 2002 study at the John Hopkins School of Medicine revealed that sulforaphane, a powerful compound found in cabbage, attacks H.pylon bacteria responsible for causing gastric and peptic ulcers, before they have a chance to reach your gut. Cabbage is also really low in calories with just 34 calories per cup, yet it contains 3g of fibre and 75% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C per serving.
Potent, pungent garlic - you either love it or you hate it! Not only does garlic help boost your immune system, it's also packed with essential oils which can inhibit the growth of the Candida albicans yeast - that's what causes thrush and yeast infections. Add garlic to stir fries, marinades, salad dressings and sauces. Other beneficial fungicides include oranges, cloves and thyme.
#7. Reishi Mushrooms
Used a lot in parts of Asia, Reishi Mushrooms are loaded with B-vitamins and antioxidants and also contain potassium, magnesium, niacin, copper, selenium and phosphorus. There's evidence to suggest that Reishi Mushroms have been used to boost vitality for over 2,000 years and they are famous for their antioxidant content. You'll normally find them dried and powdered to make tea - whilst you can pick them up for cooking and eating, their bitter flavour isn't that enjoyable. Limited evidence exists to suggest the tea could help lower blood presure, but beware as it can also cause blood thinning. These mushrooms also reduce inflammation and protect the liver, so sipping a cup of mushroom tea every once in a while could have a number of health benefits.
Hemp seeds are a complete source of plant protein, containing about 20 amino acids. Did you know that one tablespoon of hemp seeds contains a whopping 5g of protein? These seeds are also the most abundant source of fatty acids found in nature, so adding them to your diet can have some serious health benefits. Hemp seeds help to reduce inflammation, reducing your risk of developing diseases such as cancer and diabeted. They're also seriously great news for your digestion, helping to keep the digestive tract clean and healthy, as well as boosting your immune system. There's even evidence to suggest that adding hemp seeds to your diet could help improve memory and reducing your risk of developing brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Look for healthy snack bars fortified with hemp or add the seeds to smoothies and salads. If you're stuck for inspiration, here are some great recipe ideas.
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