Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

Read the original post about immunity boosting foods from laurenconrad.com here.

Welcome to part two of my series on keeping your body healthy during these lingering chilly months!  I found this excellent article on Lauren Conrad’s website a couple of weeks ago about foods that help boost your immune system and help with your overall health.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Staying healthy is always one of the most important things in my mind, so I thought this article was wonderful and timely.  I decided to do a little extra research on these ten foods that are good for overall health so that everyone could learn how good for you these foods actually are.

Foods You Should Be Eating:

  1. Yogurt – There are many reasons that eating yogurt on a regular basis is a good idea for everyone.  Yogurt often has active cultures, which helps certain gastrointestinal conditions.  The probiotic strains boost the immune system.  For all the women out there, the active cultures may discourage vaginal infections[i] and prevent osteoporosis.  It may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and help you feel fuller.  On top of all of this, it’s delicious.  At this point, why are you not eating yogurt on a daily basis?
  2. Garlic – I am personally not a big fan of the taste of garlic, especially what’s left in your mouth when you are done with your meal.  But there are some irrefutable reasons why people should be eating more garlic.  It boosts your immune system, giving you plenty of antioxidants.  It is beneficial to your respiratory and circulatory systems.  It helps cut down on inflammation.  Some research has said that it helps prevent food poisoning by killing the bacteria that causes it.  It can help you remove a splinter, can cut the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, banishes cold sores, and repels mosquitoes.  That must be why the flavor is so strong – the benefits make up for it!
  3. Chicken soup – A team of medical researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have been doing in depth studies on old-fashioned chicken soup, and they have found that it has a host of benefits.  The broth contains anti-inflammatory properties that could help keep the misery of a cold at bay.  But the most interesting thing is that the researchers discovered that some ingredient in the soup slows the amount of cells that congregate in the lungs, which could possibly hinder the development of the cold symptoms.  The best part about this whole study, though, was that they found that some of the canned varieties of chicken soup were more effective than homemade.  Yep, you heard right.  The canned soup that is often on sale at the grocery store may be better for your symptoms than your grandma’s homemade.  Crazy, right?
  4. Tea – The British may finally be onto something here.  There are a whole bunch of reasons why it’s good to love tea.  It can boost exercise endurance, which, as a runner, is very interesting news.[ii]  Tea can help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, and might help protect against a dozen different cancers.  It helps fight free radicals,[iii] and provides protection against UV rays.  It hydrates you, and is linked to lower occurrences of Parkinson’s disease.  It can counteract the negative effects of smoking and can help keep your weight under control.[iv]  Green tea specifically can help the body process sugars, aiding people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes.  It can help you recover from radiation, can improve your bone mineral density and strength, and may be effective in the prevention and treatment of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.  Like I said, the British may be right to take all those tea breaks.
  5. Mushrooms – Yes, mushrooms are a fungus.  Yes, that’s gross to think about.  But!  The upside of eating them will outweigh the fact that they are a fungus.  Mushrooms help with weight management – according to a study, if you substitute red meat for a type of mushroom, weight loss can be enhanced.  Mushrooms are associated with improved nutrition, and help increase Vitamin D levels in your diet.  On top of those things, mushrooms help improve your immune system function, and one study even said that eating mushrooms enhanced the adaptive immunity response to salmonella in mice.  They are delicious in pasta sauces and in a variety of dishes, including pizza, if you don’t like the taste of them.  They’re worth working into your diet!
  6. Strawberries – I’ve always been a fan of strawberries because they are my dad’s favorite fruit.  He could eat them every single day, I would guess.  Strawberries are high in Vitamin C, making them natural immunity boosters.  They promote eye health, fight cancer with their antioxidants, and some studies have shown that they help promote younger looking skin.  They fight bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and regulate blood pressure.  They are good sources of fiber, may help you maintain a healthy weight, and, for the women, help promote neonatal health.  Are you convinced yet?  Because I’m about to go out and buy some strawberries.
  7. Brussels sprouts – Does anyone truly enjoy eating Brussels sprouts?  Maybe, but more people should start enjoying them, simply for their health benefits.  They are cruciferous vegetables[v] which contain indole, a phytochemical that may protect against cancer.  They are also rich in Vitamin C (an immunity booster), protein, and fiber, and are low in fat and calories.  So you’re only getting the good things.  Better eat up!
  8. Oatmeal – Oatmeal is my favorite pre-race breakfast, so it makes me happy that I’m truly eating something that is good for me.  Oatmeal is low in calories, which helps stop cravings.  It is high in fiber, low in fat, and high in protein.  It stabilizes your blood sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes.  It lowers bad cholesterol without affecting your good cholesterol, and is gluten free.  Oatmeal contains lignans and unique antioxidants, which help protect against heart disease and cancer.  It helps protect against heart failure and enhances a person’s immune response to disease.  Plus, with the many different flavors available, it is a pretty delicious breakfast food.  I plan on continuing to eat it before my races, that’s for sure.
  9. Carrots – If you know me, you know that I hate carrots.  I can’t stand how they taste.  However, I might have to start sucking it up, since they are so good for me.[vi]  Carrots are very antioxidant-rich, which has been proven to reduce both cancer and cardiovascular risks.  The article I read listed four specific cancers where risks could be lowered by a higher consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as carrots (lung, colorectal, prostate, and leukemia).  The Vitamin A in carrots is also good for your vision, which is the one my mother always used to tell me about.  There is also research that links carrots to blood sugar regulation, delay in the effects of aging, and improved immune function.  Begrudgingly, eating carrots sounds worth it to me.
  10. Dark chocolate – I am seriously rejoicing on the inside, because dark chocolate is my favorite food of all time.[vii]  Dark chocolate (with a high cocoa content) is extremely nutritious, containing fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.  It is also antioxidant-rich,[viii] and may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.  It raises your good HDL cholesterol and protects against LDL oxidation.[ix]  It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, protects your skin from harmful UV rays, and may improve brain function.  Decision made – I’m going to eat dark chocolate for days.  DAYS.

Are you ready to work on your health?  This list should certainly help!

-A.


[i] I know, I know.  Gross.  But it’s a benefit of yogurt that I didn’t know about!

[ii] Sadly, I cannot have caffeine, which narrows the list of teas that I can consume.

[iii] Which can cause cancer, for those who haven’t taken their chemistry or physics courses.

[iv] For the record, this does not mean that I am advocating you continue to smoke, if you already do, or that you start.  And I’m also not telling you to go on a tea diet.  Lord, that could be bad.

[v] You may remember this term from an episode of The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon tries to run with Penny.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.  It’s worth a watch.

[vi] Just like my mom always said, which is only slightly annoying.

[vii] Yes, I’m putting it higher than macaroni and cheese, which is an important development in my life, people.

[viii] Forget carrots, I’ll just eat chocolate.

[ix] That means that the LDL has reacted with free radicals, which have been proven to be carcinogens.

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