There are five healthy and important foods that you should include in your meals at least once a week if not more.
One of the great things about spinach is that it is always available just about anywhere. It is easy to grow and it is affordable. Cooked as a vegetable, it should be lightly steamed or popped into a stir-fry wok just before serving. Spinach can be eaten raw in a salad or used in a healthy green smoothie. You can even add spinach to soups.
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium and vitamin B6 while protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, copper, selenium, niacin, omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber are all to be found in this vegetable. Spinach also has plenty of flavonoids plus beta-carotene, anti-inflammatory properties and lutien.
Tomatoes, and even derivative products such as tomato sauce and ketchup (if organic and minus sugar and harmful additives) contain many nutrients that support overall health. Most importantly, they are a great source of the potent antioxidant lycopene plus, unlike other lycopene contenders such as watermelon or guava, they are available everywhere year-round.
Research shows a strong association between high lycopene consumption and lower rates of prostate cancer plus in addition to exhibiting preventive effects, lycopene also appears to inhibit the spread of existing cancer and to decrease malignancy. It has shown protective benefits against pancreatic cancer which one of the most fatal of all cancers, largely due to late diagnosis. Tomatoes also contain phenolic acids, which combat lung cancer - the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.
Great for an any time snack, in salads or soups, added to yogurt or stir fried veggies, sprinkled over casseroles or used in baking, nuts are inexpensive, easy to store and perfect to pack for work or school. For optimum health benefits, nuts should be eaten raw so try to stay away from roasted, toasted, sweetened and salted versions. A handful of nuts a day is the recommended amount to eat. And remember that almost every type of nut has a lot of nutrition packed into a tiny package.
Well known for being rich in antioxidants, olive oil has been proven time and time again to reduce the risk for many serious diseases. Extra virgin olive oil contains a high level of vitamin E and phenols, highly recommended for optimum heart health, while the presence of oleic acid helps prevent colon cancer. Choosing olive oil over other oils lowers the bad cholesterol while raising the good. In fact the less processed the olive oil is, the better for you.
Garlic is another potent cancer fighter and an excellent source of vitamin B6 (which combats fatigue and supports the nervous system). Garlic has been associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer and has shown protective benefits against colon cancer. Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, studies have shown that eating garlic regularly reduces the risk of esophageal, stomach and colon cancer. Garlic is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, selenium and manganese. The vitamin C helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation. The vitamin B6 helps prevent heart disease. The selenium, as well as helping prevent heart disease, also provides protection against cancer and heavy metal toxicity. The manganese helps raise the level of HDL (the good form of cholesterol).
Although it is recommended that you include garlic at least once a week in your meals, the health benefits of garlic would be even greater if you managed to consume some form of garlic every day.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend consuming a half to one clove of garlic daily to gain the maximum health benefits of garlic.