Disease Fighting Food 2: Dairy
Dairy foods are not only the best food source of dietary calcium, but also have plenty of protein, vitamins (including vitamin D), and minerals -- key to fighting the disease osteoporosis. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend having three daily servings of low-fat dairy products, as well as doing weight-bearing exercise, to help keep bones strong. (If you can't tolerate dairy, other calcium-containing foods include legumes; dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and collards; and calcium-fortified soy products, juices, and grains.)
Beyond strong bones, dairy may also help you lose weight. Research is ongoing, but a few studies have shown that three daily servings of dairy -- as part of a calorie-controlled diet -- may help decrease belly fat and enhance weight loss.
Low-fat dairy foods make excellent snacks because they contain both carbohydrates and protein.
"Dairy foods are perfect snacks for diabetics and everyone else because [they help] maintain blood sugar levels," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Whip up a smoothie with low-fat milk or yogurt, a splash of orange juice, and a handful of berries for an energizing meal substitute or anytime snack.
Disease Fighting Food 3: Fatty Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fish like salmon and tuna, disease fighting foods that can help lower blood fats and prevent blood clots associated with heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish (especially fatty fish) at least twice a week. "Eating a diet rich in fatty fish can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," says Lichtenstein.
There's another benefit to eating meals containing salmon or tuna: you'll reduce your potential intake of saturated fat from higher-fat entrees.
Fire up the grill or put your fish under the broiler for a quick, tasty, and heart-healthy meal.
Disease Fighting Food 4: Dark, Leafy Greens
One of the best disease fighting foods is dark, leafy greens, which include everything from spinach, kale, and bok choy to dark lettuces. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. A Harvard study found that eating magnesium-rich foods such as spinach can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Make your next salad with assorted greens, including supernutritious spinach or other dark-colored greens for a meal that fights disease.