10 Amazing Disease-Fighting Foods

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They are a dietitian’s blood fats and prevent associated with heart disease.

The American Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish (especially fatty fish) at least twice a week. “>cardiovascular disease,” says Lichtenstein.

There’s another benefit to eating meals containing salmon or tuna: you’ll reduce your potential intake of saturated fat from higher-fat entrees.

Fire up the grill or put your fish under the broiler for a quick, tasty, and heart-healthy meal.

Disease Fighting Food 4: Dark, Leafy Greens

One of the best disease fighting foods is dark, leafy greens, which include everything from spinach, kale, and bok choy to dark lettuces. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, , folate, iron, magnesium, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. A Harvard study found that eating magnesium-rich foods such as spinach can reduce the risk of developing cholesterol levels?

Whole grains include the nutritional components that are typically stripped away from refined grains. They contain folic acid, , and B vitamins, and are important to heart health, weight control, and reducing the risk of diabetes. Their fiber content helps keeps you feeling full between meals as well and promotes digestive health.

Enjoy at least three servings a day of whole-grain goodness: whole wheat; barley; rye; millet; quinoa; brown rice; wild rice; and whole-grain pasta, breads, and cereals. The daily recommendation for fiber is 21-38 grams, depending on your sex and age, according to the American Dietetic Association.

Disease Fighting Food 6: Sweet Potatoes

One of the easiest ways to make a healthful dietary change is to think “sweet” instead of “white” potatoes. These luscious orange tubers are boasting a wealth of antioxidants; phytochemicals including beta-carotene; vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; copper; iron; and . The fiber in sweet potatoes promotes a healthy digestive tract, and the antioxidants play a role in preventing heart disease and cancer.

Its natural sweetness means a roasted sweet potato is delicious without any additional fats or flavor enhancers. Substitute sweet potatoes in recipes calling for white potatoes or apples to boost the nutrients.

Disease Fighting Food 7: Tomatoes

These red-hot fruits of summer are bursting with flavor and lycopene — an antioxidant that may help protect against some cancers. They also deliver an abundance of vitamins A and C, potassium, and phytochemicals.

Enjoy tomatoes raw, cooked, sliced, chopped, or diced as part of any meal or snack. Stuff a tomato half with spinach and top with grated cheese for a fabulous and colorful side dish.

Disease Fighting Food 8: Beans and Legumes

These nutritious nuggets are packed with phytochemicals; fat-free, high-quality protein; folic acid; fiber; iron; magnesium; and small amounts of calcium. Beans are an excellent and inexpensive protein source and a great alternative for low-calorie vegetarian meals.

Eating beans and legumes regularly as part of a healthy eating plan can help reduce the risk of certain cancers; lower blood cholesterol and ; and stabilize blood sugar. Beans also play an important role in weight management by filling you up with lots of bulk and few calories.

Think beans when making salads, soups, stews, or dips.

Disease Fighting Food 9: Nuts

Nuts are full of fats. But they’re the healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated kind, which can help lower cholesterol levels and help . In addition, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber, selenium, vitamin E, and .

Small portions of nuts can boost energy and beat hunger, helping dieters stay on track. Still, nuts pack plenty of calories — and it’s easy to overeat these tasty treats.

So enjoy nuts, but be mindful of your portion size. Try to limit yourself to an ounce a day. That’s about 28 peanuts, 14 walnut halves, or just 7 Brazil nuts.

Disease Fighting Food 10: Eggs

Their cholesterol content once led to bad press for the mighty egg, but research has redeemed it. It turns out that (eggs have little) plays a bigger role than the cholesterol in food in elevating our blood cholesterol.

Eggs are packed with economical, high-quality protein, and are an excellent source of the carotenoids , choline, and xeanthin. In fact, eggs are one of the best sources of dietary choline, an essential nutrient — especially for pregnant women. Eggs have been shown to supply nutrients that promote and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.

The American Heart Association has given eggs the thumbs-up for healthy people. As long as you limit your average daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg, you can enjoy an egg a day.

Eggs are adaptable to every meal. Enjoy eggs for a quick meal, or pack a hard-boiled egg for a tasty, high protein snack.

The Big Picture

For top disease-fighting power, eat all of these amazing edibles together with other healthful foods that didn’t make my top 10 list, including green tea, chocolate, alcohol (in limited quantities), olive oil, and soy.

Beyond the choices I listed here, fruits and vegetables in general are powerhouses of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By eating five or more servings a day, you help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

The real key to preventing disease and promoting health is not certain foods, but a lifestyle of regular physical activity and healthy eating, experts say.

Overall, an eating plan low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes is your best bet for a healthy heart, according to a Stanford University study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

And “there is very little evidence that individual foods with super-nutrient profiles can reduce the risk of cancer,” according to Coleen Doyle, MS, RD, the American Cancer Society’s nutrition and physical activity director. “But healthy dietary patterns, including these foods, along with a healthy lifestyle, [are] critical to reducing risk for cancer.”

Remember that portion size does matter, even when it comes to healthful foods. If you gain weight eating super-portions of super-nutritious foods, you’ll negate the health benefits because of the health risks associated with being overweight, Lichtenstein says.

Also keep in mind that taking a vitamin, mineral, or herbal supplement is no replacement for eating a variety of healthy food. “There is limited evidence that supplements, beyond filling nutritional gaps, make a difference,” says Doyle.

Make no mistake about it; eating healthfully — at least most of the time — is your best defense against chronic diseases. And the best part? Good nutrition really does taste great.