Foods That Heal

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Some foods just stand out as health-giving powerhouses because of their multiple benefits. Adding the healing foods featured below to your weekly menu is a simple and effective way to take better control of your health. Functional medicine can help you heal through food.

* Garlic

It doesn’t matter how you eat garlic (cooked, raw, powdered, roasted); all its forms have been proven to lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clumping and sticking to artery walls. Because garlic expels mucous from the lungs, it’s often used to treat lung ailments. It also helps reduce symptoms of colds and flu, may help fight bacterial infection, and has been shown useful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and depression by normalizing serotonin levels. It even shows promise in preventing colon and breast cancers. Although it’s best to use garlic in its natural form if you really don’t like the taste you can use garlic supplements.

* Broccoli

You can steam it, bake it, stir-fry it and eat it raw. Broccoli’s versatility alone should make it a popular veggie, but it also has the potential to fight major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Low in calories and high in fibre, broccoli is loaded with vitamin C — a potent antioxidant that offers heart protection — and glutathione, which helps boost immunity and lower cholesterol. It’s also rich in the antioxidant lutein, which appears to offer protection from age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.

* Citrus fruits

Whether you prefer oranges, grapefruits or tangerines, citrus fruits are one of the best natural “medicines” you can give your body. They’re loaded with vitamins, nutrients and soluble fibres that may help prevent colds, lower cholesterol, build bones, prevent kidney stones, lessen the risk of colon cancer, and speed recovery from heart attacks. The phytochemicals in citrus fruits are even thought to help fight breast cancer. Drinking the juice is good — juice provides vitamin C, electrolytes and trace minerals — but eating the entire fruit is even better because the pulp is rich in bioflavonoids that have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, tissue-stabilizing properties.

* Kidney beans

Kidney beans provide the best source of fibre of any legume, and they’re high in heart-protecting folate. (Folate is also important in preventing birth defects.) A half-cup serving of kidney beans provides 7 grams of fibre, nearly 3 grams of which is cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre — and that means kidney beans help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colon cancer.

* Tomato sauce

Tomatoes are the best source of lycopene, an antioxidant with numerous health benefits. You can reap these benefits by eating fresh tomatoes. Tomato sauce, however, is the better choice. When tomatoes are cooked, the lycopene is released from the tomato cell walls, making it easier for your body to use. Research suggests that lycopene is a potent cancer-fighter — it protects against prostate, colon, oesophageal, and stomach cancers by mopping up “free radical” molecules before they can cause cells to become cancerous.

* Salmon

All fish has beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but salmon is one of the richest sources. The omega-3 fats (polyunsaturated “good” fats) found in salmon have a number of important health benefits, such as lowering blood cholesterol, decreasing the risk of heart disease and cancer, controlling inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and enhancing brain development and memory. This fish oil may also less severe menstrual cramps, and is thought to help with symptoms of depression. The typical American diet does not include enough fish — a single 3-ounce serving of baked salmon provides 10 times the amount of omega-3s the typical American gets in a week. Just remember not to eat smoked salmon to get your quota of omega-3s. Much of the beneficial fat drips out during the smoking process.