As we enter 2014, many of us are already planning our resolutions. But how many of us know what to eat to look and feel healthier? Whether you want to reduce stress or just lose some weight, we have put together a handy app bursting with foods that are known for their health benefits.
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Garlic has been proven to reduce the chances of catching a cold and can help cold sufferers recover faster. It’s most effective when eaten raw but you can buy aged-garlic extract capsules instead. Garlic can also boost your mood, repair your body after exercise and improve sexual performance.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna – high in omega 3 help fight colds and flu. Research shows that taking fish-oil supplements over a 3-month period reduces the inflammation that causes colds and reduces symptoms of anxiety that weaken the immune system.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes provide plenty of vitamin C. They have been shown to reduce a cold’s duration by roughly a day when vitamin C is consumed at the first sign of illness. Vitamin C has also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Dried prunes are a common remedy for constipation as they’re high in fibre, potassium and vitamin A. Introducing small portions of dried prunes into your diet can relieve the symptoms of constipation. Other benefits include healthy vision and a lower risk of developing arthritis and cancer.
Pears are another great remedy for constipation. They act as natural laxatives loosening the stool so it can pass gently through the intestines. Plus, research found that women who ate 3 pears a day compared to those who didn’t, consumed less calories and lost more weight.
Beans can prevent you becoming constipated and help to sustain a healthy digestive system. Baked beans are packed full of great nutrients to keep you healthy including protein, iron, calcium and fibre. But it’s the insoluble fibre in baked beans that helps to protect the colon lining from cancer.
Raw chocolate and cocoa are known to boost energy and help brain function. Sluggishness and fatigue are often a common symptom of a magnesium deficiency in the body. Stay away from processed chocolate, as it’s not as healthy for you as cocoa, which can also treat irritability.
Red pepper has been recommended for providing pregnant women with an energy boost. Red peppers contain iron and can increase the body’s heat production and intake of oxygen. They are also high in vitamin C containing nearly 300% of the daily recommendation while pregnant.
Oats are rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B, potassium and protein and are a great energy boost. Why not start-the-day with a bowl of porridge to beat morning tiredness. Oats can also be beneficial if you’re suffering with stress and can help improve your skin.
Maca is a root vegetable from the Peruvian mountains that looks like a radish. The vegetable is known as a natural Viagra and helps to balance the hormones and prepare women for pregnancy and IVF. Maca provides an instant energy boost and higher doses can have a relaxing effect on the heart.
Royal Jelly is a superfood that can increase the quantity and quality of eggs produced. Women are advised to take Royal Jelly for more than 3 months before beginning natural conception or IVF treatment. WARNING: Please don’t take Royal Jelly if you’re allergic to bee products.
Shellfish contains vitamin B12 that has been proven in studies to help strengthen the endometrium lining reducing the risk of miscarriage. Shellfish is a great source of zinc and can be used to treat damaged skin after injury. It also plays a vital role in prostate health.
Almonds play a role in helping lower cholesterol. Properties in almond skins protect against LDL (the bad cholesterol) and can reduce the risk of heart disease. The fibre structure of almonds may also prevent weight gain. Try eating a handful of almonds each day.
Avocados have also been shown to reduce the production of LDL - the bad cholesterol, and increase the good cholesterol in those that have slightly raised cholesterol. Avocados can also provide protection against breast cancer, heart disease and strokes and help aid digestion.
Beans and lentils have been proven to lower levels of bad cholesterol dramatically when eaten as part of a low-fat diet. They are also packed with nutrients and preventative properties that help combat aging and diabetes. Try adding beans and lentils to salads, soups or casseroles.
Magnesium is believed to be beneficial to incontinence sufferers. Some doctors believe magnesium reduces incontinence by decreasing bladder muscle spasms allowing the bladder to empty fully. It can also assist with healthy bone formation. Try eating magnesium-rich foods like potatoes or bananas.
Water actually plays a crucial role in managing incontinence. Staying hydrated can prevent constipation that can aggravate the bladder and encourage incontinence. Water also regulates body temperature, flushes out toxins and prevents kidney stones.
Eggs, fortified milk and fish all contain vitamin D that can reduce the risk of incontinence. Research suggests women older than 20 with a healthy vitamin D level are at a lower risk of becoming incontinent. Eating two eggs for breakfast everyday can also help you lose weight.
Bananas are rich in nutrients and contain vitamin B6 and potassium that can improve menstrual cramps and reduce water retention. Bananas can also provide an energy boost before and after exercise and their antioxidants help protect against heart disease and cancer.
Sunflower seeds are high in zinc, potassium and vitamin E that all help to reduce cramping. The seeds also contain pyridoxine (vitamin B6) known for its pain-relieving qualities. High in carbohydrates and calories sunflower seeds are a great energy boost for exercise.
Kale has many health benefits, but scientists have linked its calcium content to the alleviation of menstrual cramps, possibly because its properties are know to help maintain healthy muscle tone. Kale has also been linked to a reduction in the risk of many cancers occurring.
Quinoa is a well-known superfood packed with protein and nutrients including iron, copper and magnesium. It’s known to help relax blood vessels and reduce the frequency of migraines. It can also help with high blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attacks.
Fatty fish such as sardines, herring and trout are also known to lessen the severity and frequency of migraines. Research suggests fatty fish, high in omega 3 can lower production of chemicals in the body that cause migraines. Eat a serving of fatty fish 2-3 times a week to treat migraines.
Ginger has a long history of relieving pain associated with migraines. It works as an anti-inflammatory and helps treat nausea often accompanying migraines. Research suggests ginger can also be used to treat digestion problems. Try gingernut biscuits or take ginger supplements.
Nuts are packed with mono-saturated fatty acids (the good fats) proven to help control your appetite. A high-protein snack such as almonds can increase the number of calories you burn for over 3 hours. One ounce of almonds – high in vitamin E can also improve your memory.
Eggs have been proven to support weight loss. Research proved eating 2 eggs (high in protein and nutrients) for breakfast 5 days a week can boost energy levels, increase body weight and improve muscle strength. Egg protein also keeps hunger at bay for longer.
Whole grains are well known superfoods for loosing weight. The body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole foods that are high in fibre such as brown rice or sweetcorn than processed foods. Whole grains also help control energy levels and decrease sugar cravings.
Ginger is a popular superfood for treating many ailments, least of all digestion problems such as aches, gas, indigestion, bloating and nausea. To improve digestion drink ginger tea - add a few slices of ginger to boiling water or add the juice from a small piece of ginger and eat with a spoonful of honey.
Peppermint is a popular treatment for digestive problems as the herb contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities. Peppermint oil can be added to tea, taken as a supplement or the leaves added to salads. It is also used to treat irritable bowel syndrome as it can soothe and relax the bowels.
Yoghurt is a probiotic and contains a high amount of good bacteria that can relieve indigestion. It can also reduce other related health problems including constipation and diarrhoea. Look for ‘live’ or ‘active’ culture yoghurt or ‘added fibre’. Add fibre-rich berries like raspberries to sweeten the yoghurt.
Leafy greens are full of vitamin E, proven to improve your mental focus and help protect your brain cells from damage. Try eating leafy green vegetables such as romaine lettuce, broccoli or spinach. Leafy greens are also a good source of folate, which can help protect you against heart disease.
Whole grains are proven to aid concentration. Studies have found that eating a whole grain cereal for breakfast helps you stay more focused compared to eating refined carbohydrates or skipping breakfast. Whole grains also help you lose weight and reduce sugar cravings.
Sardines contain omega 3 fatty acids well know for giving the brain a well-needed boost, improve concentration and memory and reduce the occurrence of dementia. The omega 3 fatty acids in sardines can also help reduce cholesterol and lower the chances of developing heart disease.
Garlic can be off-putting in romantic situations, but it’s actually known to help boost the sex drive. It contains allicin, which is known to increase blood flow which will strengthen erections. Allicin also boosts the immune system and garlic is known to prevent cancer.
Maca acts as a natural Viagra boosting the libido and helps alleviate symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Maca can also help balance hormones and prepare women for pregnancy and IVF. Maca provides an instant energy boost and higher doses can have a relaxing effect on the heart.
Oysters are the perfect aphrodisiac (eaten cooked or raw). Oysters contain zinc, which helps maintain healthy sexual function and increases the libido for both men and women. Oysters can improve men’s sperm count, produce better swimmers and increase their sexual potency.
Low-fat dairy such as plain yoghurt is a good source of vitamin A, which your skin needs to mature correctly. Retinol used in many anti-wrinkle creams is actually a compound of vitamin A. Low-fat dairy is also high in calcium that the body requires to maintain healthy bones, hair and teeth.
Green tea has been found to prevent skin damage. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the skin against damaging ultraviolet rays. Green tea can also help you lose weight, filling you up and speeding up calorie and fat burn.
Tuna contains a rich variety of nutrients including selenium. Not only does the mineral help prevent cell damage it also boosts elastin, a protein that keeps your skin soft, tight and elastic. Tuna can also help improve brain function and keep your heart healthy.
Cherries have been proven to be an effective superfood in reducing sleep problems. The melatonin in cherries helps increase sleep time and improve sleep efficiency. For best results drink cherry juice or take a supplement one hour before bed. Cherries can also ease gout and combat cancer.
Walnuts are another rich source of melatonin and tryptophan that improve the quality of sleep. They also include antioxidants that help protect the body against diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and type-2 diabetes.
Kiwi is high in vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants and fibre. Recent studies have found that eating a kiwi a day 1 hour before bed led to significant improvements to the quality and quantity of sleep. The fruit can also boost the immune system, respiratory function and improve heart health.
Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D as they’re rich in selenium, proven to help improve your mood and boost your energy levels. Studies show that if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder then mushrooms with their high vitamin D content can really lift your mood.
Dark chocolate has been proven to help reduce stress. Research found that eating 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for two weeks helped highly stressed volunteers really lower their stress levels. The magnesium content can also help treat depression, menstrual cramps and irritability.
Green Tea has also been proven to beat stress in a Japanese study. Levels of stress were 20% lower in volunteers who drank more than 5 cups of green tea per day compared to volunteers who drank less than one cup per day. Green tea can also help protect the skin and aid weight loss.
Peanut butter is high in calories and but also contains omega 3 fats so is ideal to eat for healthy weight gain. Look for natural peanut butter as it contains healthier oils. Eat with whole wheat bread. Peanut butter also contains a property called resveratrol that is good for your heart.
Fatty meat such as the fatty cuts of bacon, pork and chicken are ideal for weight gain. The animal fat contains higher levels of protein for weight gain and helps the body build more muscle. Eating fatty beef cuts can also boost iron consumption and increase energy levels.
Sweet potato is a great provider of carbohydrate and has more calories than other vegetables. It’s also high in vitamins, fibre and antioxidants and is a great source of energy for building muscle. Purple sweet potato has also been linked to the prevention of cancer.