1. Olive Oil
Press an olive and you get one of the healthiest fats in the world. The main benefit of olive oil, and there are many, is that it lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and raises “good” HDL cholesterol, thanks to its monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is also packed with antioxidants called phenols, which may protect artery walls from cholesterol buildup.
Researchers even discovered recently that olive oil acts as an anti-inflammatory, which further protects your heart, and the rest of your body, too. Inflammation is strongly linked not only to heart disease but also to type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Beans are good for your heart, thanks in large part to their soluble fibre, which soaks up cholesterol so the body can dispose of it before it can stick to artery walls. Studies find that diets high in soluble fibre can cut total cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent. The same soluble fibre, combined with beans’ protein, makes beans beneficial to blood sugar. Their magnesium helps relax arteries, giving blood more room to flow and lowering blood pressure. Finally, a recent study ranked beans among the top antioxidant foods.
Consider broccoli your number one cancer fighter, thanks to its sulfur compounds, such as sulforaphane, which you can smell as broccoli cooks. These compounds signal our genes to boost production of enzymes that detoxify potential cancer-causing compounds. Eat more broccoli, and you could slash your risk of everything from breast and lung cancer to stomach and colon cancer by as much as half.
Sulforaphane has also been found to kill the bacteria that cause ulcers. Broccoli’s also a surprising nondairy source of calcium and potassium, making it good for your bones as well as your blood pressure. Its vitamin C and beta-carotene protect your eyes from cataracts and safeguard your brain cells from memory-robbing attacks by free radicals.
Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties; it even appears to banish some antibiotic-resistant bacteria, at least in test tubes. Most of its disease-fighting potential comes from its sulfur compounds, which act as antioxidants, providing many of its cardiovascular benefits. Garlic lowers cholesterol only modestly, but it also acts as a blood thinner, reducing the formation of blood clots and your risk of heart attack and stroke. Just six or more cloves a week can slash your risk of colorectal, stomach, and prostate cancer in half, compared to eating one clove a week or less. The sulfur compounds flush out carcinogens before they can damage cell DNA, and they force cancer cells that do develop to self-destruct.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains hefty amounts of disease-fighting flavonoids, antioxidants also found in red wine and many fruits and vegetables. In fact, it appears to have more flavonoids than any other food. Studies find its antioxidants can improve blood pressure, prevent blood clots, slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Some research suggests that eating 45 g a day can cut heart attack risk by 10 percent.
Eating dark chocolate can also lower insulin resistance, the main problem behind diabetes.
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