The benefits of a healthy diet go far beyond weight loss and improved energy levels, as eating right can help prevent serious illnesses, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a healthy diet "helps prevent, delay, and manage heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases." While there is no one food that will prevent chronic disease, there are what are called ‘superfoods’ that have a high nutritional density that can definitely contribute to your overall health. Incorporating more of these into your diet and pairing it with a healthy lifestyle and daily exercise can help protect you from a variety of illnesses. Here are some power foods that will help you fight off chronic diseases: Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, have lots of fibre, and are low in empty calories and unhealthy fat. They are the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to healthy eating, as it is a known fact that they can help strengthen the immune system. Food Revolution Network discusses how they contain phytonutrients, which are natural chemicals that cause the specific colours you see and indicate the presence of certain nutrients. For example, red foods like cherries and tomatoes have lycopene and ellagic acid, which can help fight cancer. As with other kinds of food, there are many ways you can serve up your fruits and veggies. You can cut some of them, like carrots and eggplants, into thin strips and make them into chips. Or if you like pasta, there are spiralizers, such as the Brieftons 10-Blade spiraliser, that can easily turn your fruits and vegetables into long, thin spirals that can make your dish more exciting and can be applied to a variety of recipes. Whole grains Whole grains, which include brown rice, oats, and barley, are a lot healthier than white rice or pasta since they still have all three parts of the grain, meaning none of the nutrients has been stripped away. Food Insight lists the various nutrients contained in each of these parts, such as iron in the bran, folic acid in the germ, and proteins in the endosperm. The high fibre in whole grains reduces the risk of obesity since they are more filling than refined grains. They also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes as they help manage blood sugar levels. Whole grains lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. With so many benefits, it's just the cherry on top that it’s very easy to prepare whole grains. Modern rice cookers like the Cuckoo rice cooker can cook any type of grain, and have settings for simmering, sauteing, and even baking. You'll have many ways to consume your whole grains with just one click, whether you want porridge, rice cakes or perfect sushi. Dairy As a child, you were likely told to drink your milk, and that's for a good reason. Dairy is the best source of dietary calcium, plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals, which keep your bones strong. This helps prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia as you grow older. Milk contains vitamins A, D, and zinc, which are needed for normal immune function. Meanwhile, fermented foods and probiotics improve gut health. If you can’t consume dairy, you can still get your calcium from other sources, such as legumes, dark leafy greens like broccoli, and calcium-fortified juices. Seafood Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, contain omega-3 fatty acids that lower blood fats and prevent blood clots that can cause heart disease and stroke. However, there are other kinds of seafood that are rich in omega-3, including mussels and oysters. Mayo Clinic suggests having at least two servings of these kinds of seafood a week in order to reap the benefits. There are many wonderful and healthy seafood dishes out there, such as salmon chowder and Chef Lukasz Babral’s recipe for mussels in Thai red curry - super delicious. Mushrooms Mushrooms are low-calorie foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They contain potassium, which lowers blood pressure by reducing the impact of sodium on the body. Mushrooms also stimulate macrophages, improving the efficiency of the immune system. Their antioxidant content can help suppress cancer growth and reproduction. Certain kinds of mushrooms have additional properties. For example, cremini mushrooms are an excellent source of zinc, which aids in metabolism and immune system function. Shiitake mushrooms contain the sugar molecule, lentinan, which, when used alongside chemotherapy, increases the chances of a patient surviving cancer. However, instead of directly killing the cancer cells, lentinan boosts the immune system, which can help in slowing tumour growth.
Written exclusively for Insightflavour.com
by Agnes Coco