Foods With Surprising Health Benefits

What you eat is directly related to your health. Your diet may reduce your chances of developing certain diseases or disorders. (Learn More – Diet and Health)

There are several easily accessible foods that have surprising health benefits, including garlic, (Learn More – Garlicmushrooms,  (Learn More – Mushrooms),  dandelion greens,  (Learn More – Dandelion Greens) sweet potatoes,  (Learn More – Sweet Potatoesand cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale. (Learn More – Cruciferous Vegetables)

Simply adding these foods to your diet on a regular basis can produce surprising health benefits and decrease your risk for many common ailments. (Learn More – Just Try Them)

Diet and Health

For most people, a healthy diet means cutting down on carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. This is certainly a good strategy.

There are some foods that are often referred to as superfoods. These foods can offer health benefits if you consume them on a regular basis.

It is often said that food is the best medicine. The foods mentioned here might be able to help your system eliminate free radicals from your body (harmful substances), promote weight loss, lower cholesterol, and even reduce your risk for diseases like cancer.

Garlic

Garlic is commonly used to enhance flavors in food, but it has also been used as a medicine throughout different periods in history. There are scientific studies that have publicized the potential therapeutic or health benefits of garlic. Results of the studies suggest the following:

  • Eating raw garlic on a regular basis (twice a week or more) may be associated with a reduced risk for lung cancer, based on small research studies.
  • Certain compounds in garlic (organo-sulfur compounds) have been identified by some research studies as being able to combat and destroy cells in a deadly type of brain cancer known as glioblastoma.
  • The effects of arthritis may be reduced by eating garlic and other similar types of herbs or vegetables.
  • One of the most touted effects of garlic is its ability to reduce high cholesterol (bad cholesterol), lower high blood pressure, and promote a heart-healthy diet.
  • Garlic may be a powerful antibiotic, and it may increase the functioning of your immune system.
  • Regular use of garlic may decrease the risk of many different types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

Many of the findings of the research studies need further replication. However, it appears that garlic is a superfood. Even if you do not like garlic, you can take garlic supplements that have no taste or odor and still get the benefits of this wonderful food.

Mushrooms

Most people think of mushrooms as vegetables, but they are technically fungi and not plants. Thus, they are not vegetables even though they are commonly referred to as such.

Mushrooms appear to provide important nutrients that can have many health benefits.

  • Mushrooms have a high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are chemicals that help to destroy free radicals, which are harmful chemicals that can have negative health effects, including contributing to an increased risk of cancer. Eating mushrooms regularly appears to lower this risk.
  • The selenium in mushrooms can help to fight cancer. It can also help to boost your immune system.
  • Mushrooms are high in fiber. Research studies suggest that people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can benefit from increased fiber. It improves blood sugar levels, increases insulin levels, and promotes overall health.
  • The fiber, vitamin C, and potassium in mushrooms can help to regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
  • The fiber in mushrooms can help to increase your sense of fullness after you eat, which can reduce the risk of obesity. Moreover, the dietary fiber in mushrooms may reduce your appetite.

Mushrooms provide a tasty and nutritional way to boost your health.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelions are actually a family of flowering plants that can be found in different parts of the world (species of Taraxacum). The dandelion has been used medicinally for centuries.

Research studies suggest there are many potential benefits of eating dandelion greens.

  • Dandelions are highly nutritious and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They contain important B vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamins A and C. They also contain high levels of calcium and magnesium.
  • Compounds found in dandelions, like polyphenols, can reduce inflammation, which is one of your natural responses to disease or illness. Inflammation can lead to permanent damage in your DNA, tissues, or organs.
  • Compounds found in dandelions can reduce blood sugar (glucose) levels and aid in the treatment of diabetes.
  • Dandelions are loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals. These antioxidants can reduce your risk of cancer and boost your immune system.
  • Dandelions may help to reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Eating dandelion greens may increase the effectiveness of your digestive system and reduce issues like constipation.
  • As an aside, substances in the dandelion flower and leaves may be used as a cream or topical treatment to protect against exposure to UVB radiation. This may be able to reduce sunburn or even skin cancer.

As with the other foods mentioned in this article, further research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of dandelions.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that were once commonly used to feed livestock. They were more accessible to people from lower socioeconomic classes, as they were not considered to be appropriate for the upper social classes.

Sweet potatoes are not related to white potatoes. They are not part of the nightshade family.

Research suggests that sweet potatoes have many health benefits.

  • Sweet potatoes are natural anti-inflammatory substances because they contain high amounts of choline, a substance that can address inflammation.
  • Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious as they contain numerous vitamins (A, B, E, and others) and nutrients (magnesium, potassium, and many others).
  • Sweet potatoes are low in fat and high in fiber.
  • Because of their high vitamin and mineral content, sweet potatoes can help to boost your immune system.
  • Sweet potatoes are not high in carbohydrates like white potatoes. Carbohydrates are often metabolized into sugar, which can be a health hazard for many people, especially those with diabetes. Sweet potatoes are considered to be low glycemic foods that help to reduce blood sugar levels.
  • The orange-red pigmentation in sweet potatoes (beta carotene) is converted into vitamin A, an essential nutrient, during digestion.
  • Eating sweet potatoes promotes healthy skin due to its high content of vitamins, minerals, and beta carotene.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables include plants like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. The name cruciferous refers to the shape of the flowers, which typically have four petals and resemble a cross.
Cruciferous vegetables have many potential health benefits.

  • These vegetables contain substances known as glucosinolates, which are being investigated for their ability to fight numerous forms of cancer.
  • Substances in these vegetables have significant antioxidant effects that can reduce the effect of carcinogens.
  • The substances found in these vegetables can decrease inflammation in the body, which can be associated with a decrease in the risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • These vegetables may reduce oxidative stress, the overload of free radicals in the body. This can have various health effects, especially reducing cancer risk.

It is suggested that these vegetables not be cooked to the point of saturation. They are best when eaten raw or only slightly cooked.

Even if you do not like broccoli or cauliflower, there are other vegetables in this group that you may enjoy adding to your diet.

A Simple Change

Simply increasing your consumption of these foods is a safe and effective way to boost your health and lower your risk of cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and other potentially dangerous health conditions.

As always, before altering your diet, discuss your plans with your physician to get the most benefit. 

References 

The Benefits of Garlic. (August 2017). Medical News Today.

Mushrooms Have Stunning Powers to Heal People and the Planet. (August 2015). Food Revolution Network.

13 Potential Benefits of Dandelions. (July 2017). Healthline. 

The Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes. (2019). BBC Good Food. 

Cruciferous Vegetables: Health Benefits and Recipes. (August 2016). Healthline.