Cumin is an Indian spice used in many curry dishes to add flavour and heat. What is unknown is that it is also extremely good for the body in a number of ways.
Diabetes. Diabetics are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease because high blood sugar can cause the kidneys to over-filter blood. This over-working of the vital organs can result in damage over time. In a review by Rathore, Saxena and Singh (2013) it was found that in animal studies, consumption of cumin lowered elevated levels of plasma urea by as much as 50%.
Urea is a substance secreted in the urine and can give an indication of how well the kidneys are functioning. This shows that cumin may be very effective at reducing this side-effect of diabetes, which can help to prevent serious life-threatening complications of the disease.
Cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, more than one in two people who were born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and 40% of cancer cases are due to lifestyle choices. In other words, a massive number of cancer cases are preventable, and one way to protect oneself against cancer is through the diet.
In a study by Kahn et al, 2011, cumin was shown to inhibit the creation of new cancer cells, suppress proliferation of cancer cells, and there is also evidence that cumin can protect cells from radiation. These effects were found for numerous types of cancer, including those of the blood, breast, colon, lung, skin, cervix, and prostate.
Digestive health. Fiber is very important for the digestive system. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is important for helping stool pass through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber can help to move food through the digestive system more easily in order to prevent digestive problems and keep bowels healthy.
In the modern western diet, fiber is not always readily available. Cumin, however, is a good source, with different types of cumin containing between 15 and 45% fiber (Rathore, Saxena and Singh, 2013). Cumin can be added to a variety of meals in order to gain a fibrous benefit.
Dandelions are best known as being attractive weeds, but weeds all the same. They are a gardener’s worst nightmare. What is less well known about dandelions however, is that they are entirely edible. Furthermore, they host a myriad of health benefits, particularly in the green parts of the plant – the dandelion greens.
High in vitamin K. Dandelion greens are extremely rich in vitamin K, with 55g containing a massive 535% of the RDA of the vitamin K. The body can store excess vitamin K in the liver for future use, so there is no need for concern regarding eating above the RDA if consumption does not occur every day.
Vitamin K is very important for a variety of bodily functions, but its main use is in blood clotting and strengthening bones (NHS, 2015). A review by Price, Langford and Liporace (2012) has shown that there is good evidence for vitamin K as an important factor in both bone synthesis and bone maintenance.
Can alleviate andropause symptoms. Andropause, also known as the male menopause, is a condition that affects all ageing males. It is characterised by a decline in both physical and mental prowess, and can significantly reduce sperm count. A study conducted in Korea by Noh et al (2013) assessed the effects of daily consumption of a dandelion and rooibos (legume) extract concoction on andropause symptoms in rats.
After four weeks, it was found that both testosterone and sperm count were significantly enhanced, and physical movement was markedly improved. Furthermore, oxidative stress of the cells which produce testosterone was significantly reduced, suggesting that the extract also has antioxidant properties.
Can fight Leukaemia. Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood cells, where the production of normal blood cells is significantly hampered. Dandelion has been used in traditional medicine to treat leukaemia, but a study by Ovadje et al (2011) confirmed that they are an excellent treatment for this disease.
They found that after treating leukemic cancer cells with a water-based solution of dandelion root extract, the body’s normal process of cell apoptosis occurred. They proposed that this happened because the dandelion induces the activation of caspase, a protein which triggers apoptosis.
Apoptosis refers to a process whereby the body causes cells to die (as oppose to cell death by external sources such as injury). In other words, dandelion root extract has been shown to encourage the body to kill the cancerous cells without the need for external assistance.
Promotes liver health. The liver is an organ which is vital for filtering out toxins in the body. It is important to keep the liver healthy, as a damaged liver can cause the body to become highly susceptible to infection, disease and death. In a study by Adbulrahman et al (2013), carbon tetrachoride (CCI4) intoxification of the liver was induced in rats.
CCI4 is a man-made solvent which can cause liver damage in high doses. When compared to no treatment, treatment with dandelion leaves water extract led to a significant reduction in serum markers which usually indicate significant damage.
This means that dandelion was able to very successfully protect the liver against damage, and restore normal function following intoxification. Previous studies have also shown that dandelion root is extremely effective at detoxification of the liver, which can improve its function and lifespan (Hu and Kitts, 2003).
Most people wouldn’t think that chocolate could ever be considered healthy. It is one of the most popular indulgent foods in the world, and the Aztecs and Mayans referred to it as the ‘food of the gods’. Nevertheless, new research suggests that adding dark chocolate to your diet can provide a number of health benefits.
Promotes cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is defined as a disease of the heart and blood vessels, and can lead a variety of serious health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and death. There has been a vast amount of research into the benefits of dark chocolate for preventing and fighting cardiovascular disease, and the result have been extremely favourable.
A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials showed reductions in blood pressure, improved dilation of blood vessels, reductions in both LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol, and increased insulin resistance (Hooper et al, 2012). Most effects were found at very small doses of chocolate, but doses greater than 50g led to a better result for blood pressure.
High in antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for a wide array of health benefits. Dark chocolate has been found to have very high levels of antioxidants, with a capacity of 13.1 per 100g (Haritha et al, 2014). Jorgustin (2015) compiled a list of the top 100 high antioxidant foods, and dark chocolate was 31st on the list.
Natural cocoa powder contains high levels of procyanidins, and the higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant level. This is why dark chocolate is much better than milk chocolate. It is important to remember that although dark chocolate does have antioxidants, it also has a lot of fat and sugar (a 40g bar of bournville contains 40% RDA saturated fat and 29% RDA sugar), so it should still be considered a treat.
Good for cognitive and mental health. A small amount of dark chocolate is not only good for the body, but it is also good for the mind. Modern life is extremely mentally taxing, and 1 in 4 people are expected to be affected by a mental health problem each year according to the mental health charity Mind.
Dark chocolate consumption, however, has been shown to have mood-boosting effects. Scholey et al (2009) compared cognitive performance and mood in participants who consumed a drink which contained cocoa antioxidants or a placebo, whilst completing a time-consuming cognitive task.
They found that rapid visual information processing responses were faster for participants consuming the cocoa drink, plus they had a significantly better task performance than the control group, and reported less mental fatigue. Another study by Sathyapalan et al (2010) found that consuming chocolate which is high in cocoa can significantly reduce both depression and anxiety associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The date is the sweet tasting fruit of the date palm, likely first cultivated in the Middle East. Often eaten dried so that it can be preserved longer, this sugary fruit also tastes great fresh. Produced mainly in Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, this exotic food is almost all sugar, hence its sweet, almost toffee like taste.
This also may go some way to explaining why dates are almost always a feature of desserts (sticky toffee pudding and so on), although could just as well be used as part of a granola or smoothie. With a solid nutritional profile high in fibre, and fantastic benefits for gut biology and colon cancer prevention, dates are an excellent food for the digestive system.
There’s no getting around the fact that dates are delicious because of their high sugar levels. That aside, dates still have some nutritional benefits: 100g of medjool dates contains 277 calories, 28% of your Daily Value (DV) of dietary fibre, 19% DV of potassium, 13% DV of magnesium, and 10% DV of vitamin B6. These nutrients are essential to processes as diverse as maintaining digestive health, blood pressure, kidney health, bone integrity, nerve health, the creation of red blood cells, neurotransmitters and much more. Not bad for such a sweet tasting food.
In addition to the nutritional content of dates, they possess a number of other health benefits, including a substantial antioxidant capacity, digestive support, and possible benefits as a male aphrodisiac. The antioxidant capacity of dates is of course significant for the broad base of health benefits antioxidants can give, but perhaps more interesting, is the fact that dates appear to have a beneficial effect on gut microbiology, and may even help to prevent colon cancer.
Couple that with substantial amounts of dietary fibre, and that’s fairly complete digestive protection. On an interesting side note, extract from date palm pollen, originally used in folk medicine to treat male infertility, has been shown to have some limited aphrodisiac effects in males.
As mentioned above, dates are very high in sugar, so eat them sparingly.
Edamame is the name given to a preparation of immature soybeans in the pod. Traditionally found in the Oriental cuisines of China, Japan and Korea, edamame is working its way into the West as a tasty snack renowned for its health food status.
While you probably should try to avoid seasoning edamame with too much salt if you want to reap the full health benefits, regardless, edamame has a balanced nutritional profile and possible applications for lowering cholesterol and decreasing the risk of prostate cancer.
Edamame shines on two fronts: high protein and high fibre. 100g of cooked edamame contains 122 calories, and 11 grams of protein, 20% DV of dietary fibre, 16% DV of magnesium, 12% DV of iron, 12% DV of potassium and 10% DV of vitamin C.
It has a surprisingly well rounded set of essential nutrients, covering a number of common deficiencies: iron deficiency anaemia is very common, especially in women, magnesium deficiency is especially common in those who exercise regularly, and potassium deficiencies, although often not as severe, do happen in those who don’t remain hydrated properly.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, there is some evidence that soy has beneficial effects on cholesterol, lowering total cholesterol, LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and the level of triglycerides (which are a major risk factor for heart disease). Direct evidence for soy having a positive impact on heart disease itself is certainly not conclusive, meaning that the benefits of the reduction in cholesterol may not be quite as significant.
However, soy products do have the ability to help reduce the risk of another common cause of mortality in the developed world: cancer. Specifically, a meta-analysis of prostate cancer showed that soy food consumption could lower the risk of getting prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer in older men.
Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a fruit traditionally used in dishes such as baba ghanoush, moussaka and ratatouille. It can be prepared by roasting, deep frying, baking, or stewing, and while all these preparation methods differ, eggplant tends to retain its rich, slightly sweet flavour.
It has a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals, potent and unique antioxidant benefits, and it reduces the risk of the biggest killer in the developed world: cardiovascular disease.
Eggplant has some fairly surprising nutritional benefits. One large eggplant, unpeeled (548g), contains 136 calories. You will also get 64% of your daily value (DV) of dietary fibre, 35% DV of potassium, 25% DV of vitamin B6, 20% DV of vitamin C, and 19% DV of magnesium.
Keeping your body in good shape requires a lot of nutrients from a lot of different sources, but what is great about eggplant is it has reasonable amounts of many nutrients, covering many bases.
It is also a potent source of antioxidants and has a number of proven benefits for decreasing the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. In particular, it’s peel has a unique antioxidant called nasunin that has been shown to successfully fight free radicals. This study showed that when dosed with paraquat, a highly toxic weed killer, nasunin protected the rats from damage to a degree.
Eggplant also benefits from having a broad range of other antioxidants. All of this is important because antioxidants prevent ‘free radical’ damage (that may lead to DNA damage, cell death and mutations), and thus have a broad spectrum of positive health effects.
Eggplant reduces some of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. It may be linked to a reduction in cholesterol and weight, although this is based on animal trials. In the study just referenced, researchers found that feeding eggplant juice to rabbits with high cholesterol diets caused a reduction in cholesterol and weight gain.
In addition, it may have some benefits for lowering blood pressure. With high blood pressure and high cholesterol being such important risk factors for cardiovascular disease, eggplant is a great benefit to your cardiovascular health.
Eggs are considered to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. The egg white and yolk are both full of nutrients (they turn a cell into a chicken!) and therefore are considered a ‘superfood’. Eggs can be fried, boiled, poached or scrambled, making them a cheap, versatile and tasty breakfast option.
One large egg (50g) contains 6g of protein, has 10% of your RDA of vitamin B12, 11% of your RDA of vitamin D and 22% of your RDA of selenium, among a whole load of other nutrients. All of this for just 78 calories! Eggs can be considered an optimal food source as they contain a little bit of almost all the nutrients out body’s need to function properly.
Eggs have been compared to beef, soy and milk and they win when it comes to which of these foods provides the highest quality of protein. This is why they are eaten in large amounts by bodybuilders, as they are a complete protein source, providing all 9 essential amino acids.
Eggs are a great source of choline, a nutrient that is vital for healthy cell membranes, and helps the cardiovascular system and brain function correctly.
They are also beneficial to your eyes as they contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, two antioxidants which reduce your chances of suffering from cataracts and macular degeneration. To gain the most benefit, you should eat eggs with greens such as kale, spinach, chard or collards – they also contain high doses of these antioxidants and the fat found in egg yolks will help absorb them into your body.
A common misconception is that due to the high levels of cholesterol in eggs (372mg / 100g) they increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. However this is not true. Eating eggs does not necessarily raise your blood cholesterol; your liver produces cholesterol every day so when you eat eggs, it ends up producing less.
Due to their high satiety, eggs tend to fill you up faster, meaning you eat less throughout the day. As a result, they are a great food choice for anyone trying to lose weight. This study carried out in 2008 showed that replacing bagels with eggs for breakfast lead to noticeable weight loss.
Endive is a leaf vegetable belonging to the chicory genus, placing it alongside foods such as radicchio, sugarloaf and the Belgian endive. Belgian endive (a variety of common chicory, like radicchio) is often confused with endive because of the name, but in fact endive is a different species: Cichorium endivia.
Endive comes in two main forms: curly endive and escarole, with escarole being less bitter, and has a wide variety of culinary applications, although admittedly often in a series of exotic salads. Low-calorie, nutritious and high in phytonutrients, endive is a great leafy addition to any balanced diet.
Nutritionally, endive shines most prominently as a great weight loss food, because of two things: it is low-calorie and high in fibre. One head of endive (513g) contains just 87 calories, and 64% of your Daily Value (DV) of fibre. Someone would have to eat huge amounts to gain any substantial amount of calories, and the high water and fibre values both contribute to high satiety levels, making sure that dieters continue to lose weight.
But endive also benefits from a number of other nutritional highlights, with a head of endive containing 222% of your DV of vitamin A, 52% DV of vitamin C, 46% DV of potassium, 26% DV of calcium, and 23% DV of iron. While you probably won’t eat a whole head in one go, considering you get all this nutrition for 87 calories, this is quite the nutrient dense food. In addition, these essential vitamins and minerals are great for the long-term health of everything from your eyes to your bones, so it’s important not to skimp on them!
While chicory has unfortunately not been studied much in isolation, there are two evidence based benefits to report. The first is that extracts from the plant may protect the liver, with there being some evidence that endive extract has the ability to prevent and treat liver disease. In addition, endive is high in the flavonoid kaempferol, which has been shown to provide protection from blood vessel damage, and has a broad cancer-protective effect.
Delicious raw or slow cooked, in salads or in pasta dishes, fennel is a plant with a strange and unique taste (that changes substantially when cooked), and a raft of health benefits to go with it.
Although it is no slouch nutritionally, with decent levels of vitamin C and potassium, it is fennel’s dizzying (and slightly bizarre) list of health benefits that is really where the interest is.
100g of fennel (a bulb is around two and a half times that) contains 20% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C, 12% DV of dietary fibre and 11% DV of potassium. This nutritional boost comes for the price of just 31 calories.
There is some evidence that fennel may help with the treatment of glaucoma, a condition that causes gradual loss of sight. Also, one study showed that fennel oil had remarkable effects on the treatment of colic in babies (severe abdominal pain often caused by trapped wind).
Additionally, it seems that it may have some beneficial effect when it comes to lowering blood pressure, which, with cardiovascular disease killing so many in the developed world, is a major plus.
Fennel has both antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, which may go some way to explaining the tentative links with its and reduced cancer risk. Fennel intake has also been linked to protection from liver damage.
Specific compounds in fennel may have some benefits when it comes to reducing inflammation. One study on anethole, a compound found in fennel, found an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effect.
Another study on dilliapole, a compound found in it as well (and more often dill), found an anti-inflammatory effect. This is important because the inflammatory response, while important, can do serious damage to our tissues if it goes on for too long.
The fig is the fruit of a species of flowering plants native to Asia, eaten either fresh or dried. The fig is most commonly used in sweet foods like jams and pastries, and are also fantastic in savoury dishes such as stuffing, dips and chutneys. With high levels of fibre, and benefits for weight loss, cardiovascular disease and cancer, figs are an exotic way to deliver a number of unique health benefits.
Figs benefit mainly from being low-calorie and high in fibre. 100g of fig contains 74 calories, and for that you get 11% of your Daily Value (DV) of dietary fibre, 6% DV of potassium and 5% DV of B6. The high fibre has distinct health benefits for weight loss, and is also great for the digestive system. Potassium and B6 are both vital to a number of processes in the body, including blood pressure regulation and the formation of red blood cells, so while a diet of only figs is not a wise idea, as part of a balanced approach, figs could be quite beneficial.
Figs have been identified as being a source of phenolic acids and flavonoids including gallic acid, catechin and gallocatechin, with potent antioxidant benefits. There is evidence that figs may suppress the proliferation of cancer cells, which is certainly an interesting avenue of research.
There is also evidence that fig leaf may have benefits when it comes to preventing some of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Fig leaf extract has been shown to decrease the level of triglycerides in the blood, and to also lower blood sugar levels. The high amounts of fibre in figs could be useful for the treatment of obesity and protection against cardiovascular disease.
Flax is a food crop grown primarily for its use in textiles (it is used to produce linen), and for its seed, flaxseed. Also made into an oil (linseed oil), flaxseed is becoming increasingly known as a nutritional supplement for vegetarians and vegans. This is due to its extremely high levels of omega 3s, usually found in oily fish.
Flaxseed must be ground so that we can digest it effectively, which gives us a lot of opportunities to put it into meals, such as baked goods or porridge. Flaxseed has an amazing nutritional profile, a huge amount of omega-3s and is the number one source of lignans. A really great food for a lot of people, and essential for vegetarians looking to live healthily.
100g contains 534 calories, so it is admittedly rather high calorie, but with 18g of protein and huge amounts of omega 3, it is an extremely balanced food. That 100g also contains 108% of your Daily Value (DV) of dietary fibre, which is fantastic for digestion, 98% DV of magnesium, essential for heart health, 31% DV of iron, great for staving off tiredness, 25% of both B6 and Calcium, great for blood and bone health, and 23% DV of potassium, a mineral essential for cardiovascular health. Overall, flaxseed is a great natural way to supplement your diet with a number of vital essential nutrients.
As mentioned above, flaxseed is a fantastic source of omega 3s. In fact, it has the most omega-3 fatty acids per gram of almost any food. Unfortunately, this is in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which must be converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to have beneficial effects. Some of it is lost in conversion, so in real terms, salmon probably has the most omega-3s.
Omega 3s lower blood pressure, help prevent breast cancer, and delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration. They prevent the shortening of telomeres, associated with age-related diseases and early mortality, in addition to preventing or delaying neurodegenerative diseases.
The second major benefit of flaxseed is its use as a source of lignans; the number one source of dietary lignans in fact. Lignans have proven benefits when it comes to tackling three of the biggest problems with health in the developed world.
Firstly, they have been proven to lower cholesterol, fantastic for heart health. Second, lignans reduce inflammation, which is the cause and catalyst of a huge range of diseases. Finally, lignans have some value in preventing cancer, specifically breast, colon and prostate cancer.
Garbanzo beans, often known as chickpeas, are a high fibre source of vegetarian protein. An extremely versatile food, it can be used in traditional salads or stews, as a roasted topping, or as the main ingredient for the foods for which it is perhaps best known: hummus and falafel. Popular from the Iberian Peninsula to the Middle East, the garbanzo bean is a potent weight loss tool, and a heart-healthy food.
Nutritionally, the garbanzo bean follows the pattern of many other legumes: low fat and low calorie, high protein and high in nutrients. That tends to be a winning combination. 100g contains 364 calories, but those 364 calories are home to 19g of protein, or 38% of your Daily Value (DV). Chickpeas are also very high in dietary fibre – 68% DV, and also have 34% DV of iron, 28% DV of magnesium, 25% DV of B6, and 25% DV of potassium. With those essential nutrients being completely necessary for proper blood and heart functioning, you really don’t want to skimp on the chickpeas!
Not only is the chickpea fantastic when it comes to nutritionals content, it can also help you to get to, or stay at a healthy weight by modulating your appetite and food choice. Chickpeas have proven benefits when it comes to lowering cholesterol and preventing diabetes, undoubtedly confirming them as a heart healthy food.
In addition, high fibre and high legume diets in general have been shown to be good for cardiovascular disease. High fibre diets are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and diets high in legume consumption have been shown to have an extremely reduced risk of heart disease as compared to a control.
Finally, there is some association that has been suggested between high fibre diet and the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
Apart from being used to scare off vampires, garlic has also been used as a medicinal food for centuries. Hippocrates, who is considered one of the most important figures in modern medicine, used it to treat toothaches and chest pain.
Garlic is a part of the allium family and is related to onions and leeks. Due to its incredibly strong taste, people don’t tend to eat it on its own; it is usually used as a base ingredient in a large number of dishes instead.
For 149 calories (per 100g) it provides 52% of your RDA of vitamin C, 60% of your RDA of Vitamin B6 and also contains decent amounts of manganese, calcium and potassium.
Scientific studies have proved that garlic can help boost your immunity; having a strong immune system means that you are less susceptible to colds and the common flu. If you do end up getting the flu, add lots of garlic to your diet – it has been shown to reduce the number of days you spend sick in bed.
The main active medicinal compound in garlic is known as Allicin. Research was carried out where rats were fed a diet high in fructose (a type of sugar), to make them fat. Some rats were then fed allicin, whilst they kept consuming the fat inducing diet. The results showed that these rats stopped gaining weight, whereas the others continued to do so. Even though this test was carried out on rats, garlic may have the same effects on humans, on a smaller scale.
Other studies carried out on humans have also found that garlic supplementation can lower blood pressure levels; this is particularly important for people who suffer from hypertension. This study found that garlic at high doses was as effective as Atenolol, a drug used to treat hypertension. Of course, if you do suffer from hypertension, never change or stop taking medication without speaking to a health professional first!
Widely used in many cultures, ginger has been an important part of folk medicine for centuries, claiming to cure all kinds of problems including sickness, pain and digestive problems. Here are some the health benefits it brings with it:
Relieves nausea. It is often touted as a miracle cure for morning sickness during pregnancy, and now a study published in 2014, has looked at the effects of ginger consumption on women who experienced mild to moderate morning sickness before 16 weeks gestation.
They were divided into 3 groups – those who received a ginger tablet, those who received a placebo and those who received nothing.
The study was conducted over 7 days and the results showed that ginger did indeed help reduce the occurrences of morning sickness amongst the women who took the ginger tablet.
Another recent study has looked at 16 trials and reviews relating to how ginger affects symptoms of nausea in general and the results suggest that in those cases ginger did have some impact on nausea, although it was recommended that further research be done in this area.
Improves pain and inflammation. There has been quite a bit of interest in this area of study, perhaps because most trials show that ginger does appear to be beneficial as a pain reliever. One such example is shown in this study on the effects of ginger on pain experienced by patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees.
It is also showing itself to be an excellent anti-inflammatory, as shown in this study by Matsumura et al on the effects of ginger on muscle soreness post-exercise.
However, more research is still needed to really look in-depth at the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects of ginger, but the results so far are definitely promising.
Naturally relieves menstrual pain. Between September 2006 and February 2007, a study of 150 women, aged 18 years and older, was conducted to examine the effects of ginger, ibuprofen and mefenamic acid on menstrual pains.
The participants were divided into 3 groups, each of which received one of the aforementioned treatments – 250mg ginger tablet, 250mg mefenamic acid and 400mg ibuprofen.
The results found that ginger was just as effective at relieving menstrual cramps and pains as the mefenamic acid and ibuprofen, making it an excellent natural alternative to modern medicines, in relation to menstrual pain.
Helps fight against cancer. Published in 2015, a study conducted by Akimoto et al has looked at the effectiveness of ginger in destroying pancreatic cancer cells in both human and mouse cancer cells.
The team created an extract from ginger and used it to treat the cells; they also injected mice with the cancer cells and treated them with the ginger extract to test the effectiveness of the solution on live models.
The results suggest that ginger has a significant role to play in the fight against cancer in the future, and that further study in this area needs to be done using human trials.
Love it or hate it, the juicy grapefruit has an awful lot going for it. There has been much speculation regarding the actual health benefits of consuming this highly acidic fruit.
There is no doubt that it is packed full of vitamin C goodness that is guaranteed to give the immune system a boost, but scientific evidence is being amassed that shows that this sunshine fruit really is excellent for our health.
Helps with weight loss. In 2006, Fujioka et al published a study relating to how grapefruit can assist weight loss over a 12 week period. The team took 91 obese volunteers and divided them into 4 groups; each group took a different supplement before each meal, 3 times a day, for 12 weeks.
They were either given 207ml of apple juice with a placebo capsule; 207ml of apple juice with a grapefruit capsule; 237ml of grapefruit juice with a placebo capsule or half a fresh grapefruit with a placebo capsule.
The results found that whilst everyone did manage to lose some weight, the greatest proportion of weight lost was in the group that consumed half a fresh grapefruit before each meal, losing a total body weight of 1.6kg.
Lowers blood pressure. A study was published in 2015 that looked at the effects of grapefruit on weight and cardiovascular risks associated with obesity. From a group of 250 participants, the research team found that grapefruit did seem to help lower systolic blood pressure, but they admit that further investigation is needed in this area to fully explore this issue.
Cancer prevention. Bergamottin is a naturally occurring chemical compound found predominantly in grapefruit juice; it has recently been investigated as a potential inhibitor of cancer cell growth in a study conducted by Kim et al.
They found that bergamottin blocked the signalling pathways between cancer cells, which in turn made it more difficult for the cells to proliferate.
The results of this study suggest that grapefruit and the bergamottin it contains may play a pivotal role in helping to prevent cancer.
De-clog the arteries and lower cholesterol. Atherosclerosis occurs when fatty substances clog up the arteries of the heart, leading to the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
It has a number of causes including high cholesterol levels. In 2006, this study looked at the way in which eating grapefruit might affect the level of atherosclerosis in participating individuals.
57 patients aged between 39 and 72 years old, who had received a coronary heart bypass,were divided into three groups; one group consumed a blonde grapefruit, another group consumed a red grapefruit, the remaining group consumed no grapefruit – they did this daily for 30 days.
It was discovered that the patients who had eaten the red grapefruits had a significant impact on lowering the levels of cholesterol in their blood, which in turn has a positive impact on the effects of atherosclerosis.
Grapes are a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet and you’ve probably heard it said that the people living in this region have one of the healthiest diets in the world.
There is certainly something to be said for regularly consuming grapes, be it in their raw form or even as a glass of quality wine. The scientific evidence speaks for itself and suggests that resveratrol, which is found in high concentrations in red and purple grapes, could be a huge contributing factor to good health.
Kick start your weight loss. Some research conducted by Dr. Della-Fera et al suggested that an important antioxidant called resveratrol could help prevent fat cells from forming in rats and mice, as well as breaking them up more quickly when they do. Resveratrol is found in a number of foods, with high concentrations being available in red and purple grapes.
Reduce inflammation and protect heart health. There is a wealth of evidence relating to the effects of resveratrol on heart health and a review carried out by Anna Csiszar has looked at a number of studies that support these claims.
In particular, she found that people who had diets rich in resveratrol were at a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and that they experienced less inflammation in the lining of their blood vessels, allowing for better blood circulation.
Improve brain health. It is thought that resveratrol can help improve overall brain health, particularly memory in to old age.
A study published in 2014 has taken the first steps in proving the truth of this claim. 23 participants, aged between 50 – 75 years old, took 200mg of resveratrol daily for 6 weeks and another group of 23 took a placebo; after this time they were tested to see how it had affected their brain functions.
The group who took the resveratrol had improved memory and function connectivity of the hippocampus, whereas the placebo group did not.
Improve diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when diabetes is not managed well and vision is significantly affected.
This study has suggested that resveratrol may help to improve the effects of diabetic neuropathy. The study was conducted on diabetic rats, who were then treated with resveratrol for 2 weeks; there was significant improvement in their diabetic neuropathy.
Eating foods that are rich in resveratrol, like red and purple grapes, may well help improve vision in diabetic people, although advice should always be sought from a doctor first.
Protect eyes from UVA damage. A study, published in 2015, has shown that resveratrol from red grapes can help reduce the damage done to eyes from ultra-violet radiation, specifically UVA.
In particular, resveratrol was beneficial in relation to age-related degeneration that was exacerbated by UVA and the researchers have suggested that further study should be done in this area.
Beef is the culinary name for meat from cows, and is the third most consumed meat in the world, being fairly ubiquitous in the cuisines of the US, China and much of Western Europe. With high red meat intake being blamed for a number of serious health conditions, most notably cardiovascular disease and cancer, it might seem odd to have beef on a list of healthy foods.
However, this article will attempt to argue that grass fed beef avoids a lot of the health issues around heavily processed meats, and that the links between red meat and serious health conditions are not as clear cut as described. Grass fed beef is fantastic source of protein, healthy fats and essential nutrients.
100g of raw grass fed ground beef contains 192 calories, but for those 192 calories, you get a lot of lean protein: 19g to be exact (38% of your Daily Value – DV). On top of that, 100g contains 33% DV of B12, 18% DV of vitamin B6, 11% DV of iron, 8% DV of potassium, and 5% DV of magnesium. Not only is the beef a great source of protein, but it also covers a large base of important nutrients: B vitamins are essential for cognition, and iron, magnesium and potassium deficiencies can all lead to lethargy, so even on a day to day basis it’s a good idea to get these nutrients in.
But there remains the question: is grass-fed really better than grain-fed? And is it any less likely to cause serious health issues? Well, firstly, yes, there is some difference between grass-fed and grain-fed animals when it comes to nutritional balance, especially in the amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
Omega-3 has a number of health benefits (see the salmon and flaxseed sections), and CLA is heavily associated with weight loss. Grass fed beef has more omega-3 and CLA than grain fed. Further, as this review states, there is evidence that grass fed is higher in vitamin A and C (precursors), and the antioxidant glutiathone. Overall, it seems clear that grass-fed has some nutritional advantages.
The question remains, then, is red meat bad for you? This question is still very much in the air, but there are one or two points in this article that may convince you to suspend judgement. A number of observational studies point toward a link between red meat intake and cancer: colorectal and breast cancer, for example.
However, the problem is that these studies do not distinguish between processed and unprocessed meat. We intuitively see a roast dinner as healthier than a big mac, for example, but these studies were simply looking at ‘red meat’ as a whole.
Correlation (between red meat consumption and cancer) does not imply causation! Significantly, one study found an association between processed foods and higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but crucially, found no such link between red meat and incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Green beans are a nutritious, delicious, and ubiquitous vegetable. Sold canned, frozen and fresh, and a great addition to a range of dishes from casseroles to roast dinners, these beans are great stir-fried, steamed or baked.
Green beans are a very low-calorie source of a number of important nutrients, being particularly high in vitamin C. Although 100g of green beans contains just 31 calories, that same 100g contains 20% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C, 13% DV of vitamin A, 10% DV of dietary fibre, and 6% DV of magnesium.
Green beans are high in carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene and lycopene. Both of these substances have antioxidant properties, and in addition, lycopene has been associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, and the beta-carotene in green beans may lower your risk of getting both prostate cancer and colon cancer.
The hulls of green beans have been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This may seem overly broad, but with inflammation being a cause of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and aggravating many others; and free radical damage (prevented by antioxidants) being linked to DNA damage (possibly leading to cancer) and cell death, this is always a really important finding.
Finally, green beans have cardiovascular benefits, as research has shown they can help to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, so it is very important to include foods that lower it, in your diet, to help with your long-term cardiovascular health.
With both magnesium and vitamin C being important for cardiovascular performance, eating green beans is a real win-win situation.
Guavas are a tropical fruit produced mainly in India, known in the West because of the ‘superfood’ status that it was announced with when it became readily available a few years ago, instantly becoming available as a juice, whole, or as a part of soft drinks.
There’s absolutely no denying that guava is extremely good for you. With astronomical levels of vitamin C, antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits, it is a one of the most nutritious fruits available and a great investment in your long-term health.
100g of guava contains 68 calories, which, frankly, is not a lot, when you consider that that same 100g contains 380% of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C. That is an astonishing ratio of calories to vitamin C, but amazingly the guava has a number of other nutrients in respectable quantities: 20% DV of dietary fibre, 12% DV of vitamin A, 11% DV of potassium, 5% DV of vitamin B6, and 5% DV of magnesium. With those nutrients essential to the health of your heart, eyes, gums, blood cells and gut, guava is an excellent way to avoid deficiencies.
The high concentrations of fibre and vitamin C have additional health benefits: high fibre diets have been shown to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and a lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
A study on intake of vitamin C and the prevention of asthma symptoms in children showed that eating foods high in vitamin C significantly reduced the risk. On top of the benefits from vitamin C and fibre, guavas are extremely high in antioxidants, and even has the effect of lowering blood sugar.
In addition to that, guavas are extremely high in lycopene, even higher than tomatoes. Studies on lycopene and prostate cancer have repeatedly shown an association between higher levels of lycopene and a lower risk of prostate cancer. It seems that a reduction in DNA damage may be part of this effect, but regardless, even when compared with other carotenoids the link between eating lycopene and lower instances of prostate cancer seems sound.
Haddock is a popular and heavily farmed saltwater fish, and one of the most used fish in the classic British ‘fish and chips’. Commonly preserved by drying and smoking, or simply eaten fresh, haddock can be grilled, griddled, flamed or fried. Delicious not only dipped and deep fried in batter (which by the way is very unhealthy) but with a light salad or some spring vegetables, haddock is a nutritious and light white fish.
Haddock is a great source of lean protein and B vitamins. 100g of cooked haddock is just 90 calories, but contains a huge 20g of protein (40% of your Daily Value – DV). That’s 40% of your protein in less than 5% of calories! On top of that, haddock contains 35% DV of B12, 15% DV of B6 and 10% potassium. The B vitamins are essential for cognitive function, among other things, and potassium is great for long-term cardiovascular health.
Haddock also contains omega-3s. Although not in the same amounts as say, salmon, it is still significant- Omega 3s lower blood pressure, help prevent breast cancer, and even delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
They also prevent the shortening of telomeres, associated with age-related diseases and early mortality, in addition to preventing or delaying neurodegenerative diseases. Diets with a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio may even run the risk of depression and inflammatory disorders, so make sure you get your omega 3’s.