5 Foods to Boost Your Health
Get more bang per bite by incorporating these 5 healthy foods into your diet.
Healthy Food No. 2: Olive oil
Another powerhouse food is olive oil, which just happens to pair perfectly with leafy dark-green veggies. Don't forget all the outdoorsy, energetic Mediterranean people who swear by an olive oil-based diet.
The term "extra virgin" basically means least processed. Olive oil not only doesn't cling to arteries, narrowing them, as do some saturated fats, but it contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols found in many teas. Polyphenols can help keep some cells, such as those which cause breast and colon cancer, from warping and causing trouble.
One study done in Greece showed that the incidence of breast cancer was cut by as much as 12% in people who ate a lot of vegetables and that regular consumption of olive oil also seemed to confer protection.
The whole Mediterranean diet, in fact, is based on eating "good" oils, without the saturated fats (bad fats, which increase cholesterol and are associated with heart disease) in meats consumed sort of as a side dish rather than the main part of the meal.
One tasty way to get the oil is to put some in a shallow dish and splash in some balsamic vinegar. This makes a terrific dip for fresh bread -- instead of balancing hard chunks of cold butter on each slice.
For another treat, coat fresh asparagus in olive oil, sprinkle with thyme, and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Healthy Food No. 3: Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are rich in fiber, which lowers cholesterol and prevents constipation. The little wonders also contain lignans, another polyphenol compound that may protect against cancer. The seeds and their oil also contain those heart smart omega-3 fatty acids you've heard so much about.
Flaxseeds take a little tender loving care. You need to store them in the fridge because they can go rancid. The oil must also be kept cold and must not be heated or put into baked goods.
To prepare the seeds, you can grind them in a normal coffee grinder. Then sprinkle a tablespoon or two on your cereal, throw it into meatloaf, toss into cookie batter, or adorn your next dish of yogurt.
As for taking flaxseed oil in pill form, many people do it and find it helps with creaky joints. Better to eat them as seeds, though, Horacek notes.