All you need is this list of 20 foods with potent health benefits that the team at BookCulinaryVacations.com has whipped up to share with you!
When eaten properly, seeds, fruits, vegetables (as well as virtually everything that originates from Mother Nature) provide specific nutrients for our body. This is the reason why many scientists are reluctant to label some foods as ‘superfoods’. Whilst it is true that some foods have more vitamins or minerals than others, this may not be enough reason to think of them as higher than others. Plus, when it comes to consuming food, enjoying a variety of food on a regular basis will prevent your palate to become ‘bored’ of the same set of flavors.
On this list, we’re providing you not only with information on the various health benefits of each food, we’ve also included some ideas on scrumptious dishes you can try to whip up right in your own kitchen. Read on!
Almonds = Maintain a Healthy Heart
Though almonds come with a variety of health benefits, one of the most advantages is that consuming a handful of almonds every day has been proven to help to maintain a healthy heart. It is an excellent source of magnesium and heart-healthy fat. As a bonus, it also packed with proteins, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and riboflavin. Almonds make a great ‘on the go’ snack but you can also try adding almonds to your salad or look for low-fat meals where non-processed almonds are included, we are sure these tasty examples will give you a better idea of what we mean: Spaghettini with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Almonds, Almond-Crusted Tilapia, and Pesto with basil, almonds, and tomatoes.
Almond-Crusted Tilapia. Image source: www. seabest.com
Apples = Delay the Aging Process
We’ve all heard the saying: ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, and it happens to be true! Antioxidants in apples are an effective defense against free radicals, undesirable substances that are often related to causing some diseases such as: respiratory problems, as well as, your body’s aging process off! Additionally, the fiber found in apples help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. It also contains other elements as quercetin, which prevents respiratory problems, and ursolic acid in apple’s peel lowers obesity’s incidence. An excellent way to eat an apple is to whip up a Stuffed Apple with Peanut Butter and Granola.
Avocados = Prevent Cancer
Here comes another reason to love guacamole! You should know that avocado is an important food in Latin America, particularly in the Mexican cuisine. You actually can learn how to prepare a lot of wonderful avocado dishes in Mexico while enjoying beautiful places! The prevention of prostate and breast cancer is related to the phytonutrients found in avocados. Among the many vitamins avocados have, you’ll find that it contains plenty of vitamin A, C, E, and B6. With the high percentage of folate in avocados, heart diseases and strokes can also be prevented and cholesterol levels can be reduced thanks to the monounsaturated fat found in this mouthwatering food! So, why not have yourself an avocado sandwich for lunch today?
Aside from having a great meal, you’ll also be taking care of your eyes by making them stronger against macular degeneration and cataracts. The great thing about avocado is that due to its buttery texture and non-intrusive flavor, it can be eaten in many different ways! It’s often an ingredient found in dishes such as salads, pizza, sushi, soups, or even smoothies! PS: a Spinach Smoothie with Avocado and Apple, makes a great healthy breakfast. Yum!
Avocado Pizza. Image source: www. tumbex.com
Beans = Manage a Healthy Weight
You’ve probably never thought that beans can actually help you to manage your weight, or at least not the beans that you find perfectly mixed inside a hearty chicken fajita burrito! The truth is, when eaten in moderation, beans are a rich source of fiber, and fiber makes you feel full for a longer period of time than most food. Beans also help to build a good preventive ‘shield’ against diabetes and some types of cancer.
Many vegetarians love beans, as when combined with grains, they become a ‘fountain’ of proteins. Bone health and blood pressure levels can also be managed with moderate consumption of beans, thanks to its huge amounts of iron, potassium, and magnesium. Antioxidants can be also found in beans –here’s an expert tip: the darker the bean, the more antioxidants it contains. So, yes, there are multiple ways to eat beans other than having it in burritos, such as using them as the main ingredient in dishes like: Southwestern Black Bean Salad, and (Almost) Stuffed Peppers.
Beets = Prevent Degenerative Diseases
Just by cutting a beet in half, you will immediately see that it is rich in antioxidants. The strong red color of beets (which by the way is difficult to wash away from clothes!) indicates the very high level of antioxidants known as betalain. By having a regular consumption of this vegetable, you can minimize the risks of suffering degenerative diseases and gain anti-inflammation benefits. If that isn’t enough reason to convince you, beets are rich in vitamin A, B, and C to improve your immune system and help your body on producing collagen for strong nails and hair. With a wealth of benefits relating to beauty and health, it’s safe to say that it can be regarded as ‘the fountain of the eternal beauty and health’!
Though you may have only enjoyed beets as a part of your salads, we recommend you to try Oven Baked Beet Chips or a Beet Cake.
Oven Baked Beet Chips. Image source: www.aspicyperspective.com
Blueberries = Encourage Proper Bodily Function
Don’t be deceived by its size; this tiny yet powerful and low-calorie berry should be part of your daily intake! The antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals found in blueberries can help to keep your body in good function and prevent certain heart diseases, reduce the aging process, and vulnerability to carcinogenic ailments.
If you’re thinking that this gives you a ‘pass’ to eat a blueberry muffin every day, remember that you can always make a healthier (yet equally delicious) choice! Instead, why not try Blueberry Pie Overnight Oats for dinner or Vegetable Couscous with Wild Blueberries for lunch? Both your taste buds and your body will surely thank you for it.
Broccoli = Combat Breast Cancer
Some of you not really be ‘into’ vegetables. Perhaps some of you may even despise broccoli, but trust us, unless you are clearly allergic to this jolly green vegetable, anyone who offers you a plate of steamed broccoli really loves you!
Broccoli is jam-packed with calcium, potassium, fiber, folate, vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamins K, E, B, and minerals, and yes, it happens to also be very low in calories! Broccoli is a potent ‘weapon’ when it comes to fighting the growth of cancer cells, fortifying your bones, keeping your heart and eyes in good shape, and reducing the risks of diabetes!
If you’re still thinking of ‘running away’ from broccoli like the plague, we’ve got some delectable ideas that may just change your mind. For dinner, why don’t you try to whip up a portion of Broccoli Bites with Cheddar Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, and Broccoli, or Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole.?
If you’re looking for even more ideas, why not sign up for a culinary vacation in Asia? You’ll learn to cook plenty of Asian dishes that often use broccoli as one of its main ingredients!
Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole. Image source: www.foodnetwork.com
Chia Seeds = Manage Hydration
Though the popularity of Chia seeds has boomed for the past few years, you’d be interested to know that chia seeds were actually one of the staple foods of the ancient Mayas and Aztecs!
As chia seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water, some scientific studies suggest that they can help keep the body hydrated for a longer period of time. If you need to lower your body’s inflammation or want to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, then regular consumption of chia seeds could be handy thanks to their omega-3 fatty acids.
Lucky for us, chia seeds make the perfect topping for a yogurt ice-cream or plain yogurt! They can also be added to refreshing smoothies as: Banana, Chia, and Spinach Smoothie, Coconut Raspberry Chia Smoothie, or Apple, Lime, and Chia Smoothie; the combinations are endless!
Dark Chocolate = More Brain Power
Here comes a sweet treat that (almost) everyone loves! But do take note: chocolate is only considered healthy when it’s dark chocolate. Milk chocolates, though delicious (and addictive), are packed with tons of sugar and non-healthy fat. When it comes to dark chocolate, the rule of thumb is the higher the cocoa content, the better it is for our health. Flavanols in cocoa can generate a boost of blood flow to your brain, which helps you to be more awake and alert!
Consuming dark chocolate with high levels of antioxidants may also result in improving your heart’s health and reducing the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and up the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. As wonderful as this all may sound, keep in mind to enjoy it in moderation. Looking for chocolate recipes? You should pamper yourself with these treats: Chocolate and ginger tarts, Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bites, or Chocolate Covered Bourbon Soaked Cherries. Pure decadence!
Chocolate Covered Bourbon Soaked Cherries. Image source: www.food52.com
Edamame = Increased Energy
Everybody seems to be talking about edamame these days, and you should know that the main reason of this is because, well, they happen to taste really good!
In a nutshell, edamame is a young soybean or a ‘baby’ soybean. Due to its richness in iron, it is the ideal snack if you are looking for a natural energy source. Edamame list of benefits are incredible - packed with proteins, folate, magnesium, potassium, and choline, it may help to decrease the risks of cardiovascular diseases, assist in lowering symptoms of depression, and reducing chronic inflammation.
If you have yet to try it, we highly suggest you to do it! If you prefer to eat it as a part of a dish instead on its own, we recommend you to try Edamole (just like guacamole but with edamame instead of avocado), Edamame and Cranberry Salad, Pasta topped with Edamame or Edamame Hummus Wrap.
Pasta Served with Edamame. Image source: www.popsugar.com
Eggs = Boost Good Memory
You may not now this, but the simple egg is actually one of the most controversial foods among scientists. Nevertheless, if life has thought us something is that any food is harmless as long as it is consumed in moderation! This is why eating eggs (yolks included) from time to time can be good for your memory as they contain a lot of choline. Eggs have the perfect combination to nourish your body: lots of proteins, low calorie, and low fat. A relatively cheap food item, it is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, an extraordinary substance to keep your body and heart working properly, and antioxidants that are good for your eyes.
Do not underestimate the power of eggs. Here are just some of delicious dishes that include eggs: Mediterranean Eggs with Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Yogurt, a gastronomic treasure you can often find in the Middle East; Potato Hash with Spinach and Eggs, (you can have it for breakfast or dinner); and Grilled Asparagus and Poached Egg on Toast, an easy dish that only requires 20 minutes to cook!
Garlic = Manage Blood Pressure
Don’t worry, we will not suggest for you to eat a whole clove of raw garlic. But you should know that garlic is composed by Allicin, an antioxidant that has proved to be helpful in maintaining blood pressure in low levels. Along with antioxidants, garlic is rich in vitamin C and B6, manganese, and selenium, a rich mix that is linked to the combat of bacteria’s growth.
There are many dishes in which garlic can be included as a replacement of salt. Here are some delectable ideas to start with: Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Garlic and Jalapeño Hummus, and Herbed-Garlic-Hemp-Popcorn. Note: Garlic cooked for more than 10 minutes will lose its awesome nutrients, so be careful and don’t cook them for too long!
Herbed-Garlic-Hemp-Popcorn. Image source: www.bobsredmill.com
Lemons = Maintain Tendon and Bone Health
We already know that lemons can provide great benefits to our health thanks to vitamin C, but there are much more benefits to explore! Scientific studies show that it also increases collagen production in our bodies, meaning that the blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bones are kept in good shape. Along with helping you to get through a cold or even prevent it, vitamin C may help to increase ‘good’ cholesterol. Finally, flavonoids in lemons could help to fight cancer cells growth and have been known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Lucky for us, lemons makes a great condiment: Lemon-Baked Salmon with Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Lemon and Garlic, or Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemons.
Oatmeal = Improve Metabolism
If you don’t have too much time to prepare your breakfast, a hearty serving of oatmeal can save your morning! All the soluble fiber in the oatmeal will help you to have better digestion, meaning that your metabolism will process fat in a better way. Another function of oat’s fibers is dropping high cholesterol level in blood. A huge quantity of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium are part of oatmeal’s composition. If you are serious about eating healthy food, stay away from instant oatmeal though it seems tempting and practical as they are loaded in sugar.
Instead, why not try whipping up these oatmeal dishes: Oatmeal and Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (with dried fruit, vanilla almond milk, and agave for a touch of sweetness), Creamy Cocoa Oatmeal, and Oatmeal with Cheddar and Scallion.
Potatoes = Help Building of Cells
Yes, you are reading correctly, we included potatoes on this list. When we think of potatoes and the first image that usually comes to our head is probably the fried full-of-salt-and-fat version.
That said, eating potatoes without all the extra ingredients is a good way to obtain folate, just as if you were eating spinach or broccoli. Don’t waste the peel of purple potatoes as they may lower blood pressure and are surprisingly appetizing!
These dishes might just create the beginning of a whole new love affair between you and potatoes: Red Chile Potatoes, Cajun-Stuffed Potatoes, and German Potato Salad with Dill.
German Potato Salad with Dill. Image source: www.bonappetit.com
Quinoa = Nourish Your Body
It is to eat quinoa at any time of the day, so feel free to include it unto your daily meals! Rich in protein, quinoa is part of a complete range of nutrition. In addition to protein, quinoa is a very useful source of magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, you may be wondering what quinoa actually is, first of all, it is not a type of grain (it’s a common misconception). Quinoa is a seed that provides nine essential amino acids to your body and is a perfect choice to make a gluten free flour.
Our culinary suggestions on how you can enjoy quinoa are: Chicken Quinoa Soup, Oven-Baked Mexican Quinoa Casserole, and Quinoa Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Spinach = Maintain Good Eyesight
Maybe the idea of eating green leafs don’t exactly excite you, but it is one of the best things you can consume in order to take care of your body and avoid diseases.
Spinach has two wonderful antioxidants that will improve and keep your eyesight in good health: lutein and zeaxanthin (don’t worry about the name, just know that consuming spinaches are beneficial for your eyes). Every time you include spinach to your meal, you’ll receive a high dose of vitamin A and calcium. As an added bonus, spinach is really low in calories, so keep them in mind when you are looking to lose weight in a healthy way. Just so you know, salads are not the only way to eat spinach, why not try to prepare one of these delicious dishes instead? Spinach Lasagna, Sautéed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach, or even, Blueberry Mint Green Smoothie!
Blueberry Mint Green Smoothie. Image source: www.themerrythought.com
Sweet Potatoes = Achieve Radiant Skin
After knowing the benefits of sweet potatoes, you will gladly add them to your meals! Sweet potatoes have an enormous amount of beta-carotene, an excellent element to increase the skin’s cell production. Along with the vitamin A found in sweet potatoes, beta carotene will make your immune system stronger. When cooking with sweet potatoes, there is no need to add sugar, butter or salt, as they are sweet enough to create a scrumptious dish.
Delight your palate with the following sweet potatoes dishes: Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad, Loaded Sweet Potato Skins, Lemon-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, you should really give all of them a taste!
Tomatoes = Fight Depression
Forget about ketchup! The real deal is consuming tomatoes without so many industrial processes, which only make them lose nutrients. Take a quick look into the cuisines around the world and you will see that tomato is an important ingredient of their menu. During a culinary vacation in Italy, you will notice that the tomato is not only an essential ingredient in preparing pizza but also for a vast array of dishes such as the mouth-watering Caprese salad.
Though tomato is crucial in many culinary traditions, it may also help to ‘solve’ some health issues! For instance, it has been shown that depression can be minimized with folic acid, which is found in tomatoes. Additionally, constipation problems could be reduced with all the fiber and water contained in tomatoes. The benefits of vitamin C are present in tomatoes too, including helping to combat prostate and colorectal cancer.
Let’s see if you can resist this tomato based dishes: One-Skillet Cherry Tomato Frittata, Poached Eggs with Broccoli, Tomatoes, and Whole Meal Flatbread, and Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomato and Goat Cheese Toast.
Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomato and Goat Cheese Toast. Image source: www.self.com
Walnuts = Drop Cholesterol Levels
You need to eat walnuts on a regular basis. Not just because they taste oh so decadent and make a marvelous snack! but also because they will help you maintain your body’s health! Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, helping you to boost moods, and last but not least, fight cancer. We know that these nuts can very much be addictive but be sure to not eat them too much as they can be quite high in calories. So, a serving of 1.5 ounces per day shall be enough.
Have you tried using walnuts as a topping? Give it a try with these drool-worthy recipes: Barbecued Chicken and Fiery Walnut Pizza, Brilliant Chili Topped with Walnuts, and Maple-Walnut Roasted Apples.
Barbecued Chicken and Fiery Walnut Pizza. Image source: www.walnuts.org
There you have it! A list of 20 awesome foods that will help you to achieve and to stay in your best health! Now that you know it can be done in various, delicious, and exciting ways, we hope we have succeeded on motivating you to ditch highly processed, fast food and junk food and opt to prepare and eat healthier & nutritious foods!
Thanks for checking out this post. Is your appetite calling for some adventure? We have the right culinary experience for you, the vast choices are nothing short of unbelievable!