Alfalfa sprouts: One cup of alfalfa sprouts has less than 10 calories, is virtually fat-free, and contains phytochemicals called saponins, which may protect against cancer and help lower cholesterol.
Apples: Apples are the richest fruit source of pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers, and maybe even lessen the severity of diabetes.
Avocados: Just one half of a medium-size avocado contains more than 4 grams of fiber and 15% of your recommended daily folate intake. Cholesterol-free and rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados are also a powerhouse for heart health
Beets: Beets are loaded with antioxidants and have been found to protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. Naturally sweet and full of fiber and vitamin C, beets make a delicious and nutrient-packed addition to any meal.
Cranberries: Cranberries are renowned for protecting against urinary tract infections, but did you also know they may improve blood cholesterol and aid in recovery from strokes? Cranberry juice has also been shown to make cancer drugs more potent.
Flax seed: Not only does flaxseed lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack, but it is also a rich source of lignan, a powerful antioxidant that may be a powerful ally against disease and certain cancers, especially breast cancer. Just 2 tablespoons of ground seeds (which are digested more efficiently than whole seeds) contain about 20% of the recommended daily fiber* intake and more than 100% of the recommended intake for inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
Oranges: Just one medium orange (think tennis ball) supplies all your daily vitamin C, which is a dynamite immunity booster and cancer fighter. And consuming vitamin C is best done in its natural form: Italian researchers also found that test subjects had greater antioxidant protection after drinking orange juice versus vitamin C–fortified water. Plus, this sweet and tangy fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins.
Papayas: Trying to get more vitamin C in your diet? One cup of papaya cubes supplies more than 100% of your daily requirement, as well as a hefty dose of potassium and folate. It is also a good source of vitamins A and E, two powerful antioxidants that protect against heart disease and colon cancer.
Pumpkins: This hearty, fiber-rich squash is packed with beta-carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body), which reduces the risk of developing lung cancer. The antioxidant activity of this vitamin combined with potassium, which may help prevent high blood pressure, makes it a nutritional superstar.
Quinoa: Packed with a variety of nutrients, including iron and copper, it’s no wonder the Incas deemed this ancient seed “the mother of all grains.” Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein (perfect for vegans and vegetarians). It is also a great source of magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and has been found to reduce the frequency of migraines. Researchers have found that consuming dietary fiber, specifically from whole-grain products such as quinoa, reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack.
Raspberries: Tart, sweet, and incredibly juicy, just one half cup of these berries provides a whopping 4 grams of fiber and more than 25% of the daily recommended intake for both vitamin C and manganese. Raspberries also contain a powerful arsenal of antioxidants, including members of the anthocyanin family, which give raspberries their ruby-red hue and antimicrobial properties.
Spinach: Powerful antioxidants in spinach have been found to combat a variety of cancers, including ovarian, breast, and colon cancers. And it’s good for the noggin: Research indicates that spinach reduces the decline in brain function associated with aging and protects the heart from cardiovascular disease. Although it contains relatively high amounts of iron and calcium, oxalate compounds bind to these minerals and diminish their absorption.
Sweet potatoes:Need a beta-carotene fix? Just one medium sweet potato packs over four times the recommended daily amount. These tasty tubers are also rich in potassium, inflammation-fighting vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which may prevent clogged arteries.
Turkey: A 4-ounce portion of turkey breast meat contains almost 50% of your daily selenium, a trace mineral that plays essential roles in immune function and antioxidant defense. Despite the claim that turkey meat causes drowsiness during the holidays, it actually contains high amounts of niacin and vitamin B6, which are important for efficient energy production and blood-sugar regulation.
Walnuts: One-quarter cup of walnuts supplies 90% of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in everything from maintaining cognitive function, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure.
Watercress: Just 1 cup of watercress supplies nearly 100% of a woman’s recommended daily amount of vitamin K, which has been shown to prevent hardening of the arteries and is essential for strong bones. It is also a good source of vitamin A, a potent antioxidant.
Yogurt: Yogurt contains probiotics, which are bacteria that live in the intestine, aid in digestion, boost the immune system, diminish bad breath, and are even associated with longer life spans. A 1-cup serving also supplies one-third of your daily calcium requirement, as well as 14 grams of satisfying protein.