It shouldn’t surprise you that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but do you know exactly how they help your body? Fresh produce and other healthy foods that many people eat on a regular basis provide a number of benefits, some of which might surprise you.
Eating just one apple per day gives you higher levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that reduce the amount of harmful low-density lipoprotein in your blood. This can help lower the risk of having hardened arteries.
Pumpkin seeds can help you sleep better, since they contain high amounts of tryptophan. Your body turns this amino acid into a hormone called melatonin that helps you feel sleepy.
A few servings of raisins per day can reduce your blood pressure, thanks to the fiber, potassium and phytonutrients they contain. Keeping your blood pressure under control helps lower your risk of developing heart problems.
Blueberries contain high amounts of antioxidants, which can lower your risk of heart disease and other health issues. When you eat them as a pre-workout and post-workout snack, they help you burn fat and absorb an even higher number of antioxidants. Antioxidants also help keep your cells healthy, including skin cells, so you don’t have to worry as much about premature aging or stretch marks.
Pick up some organic tomatoes to increase your levels of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that decreases your risk of having a stroke.
Mushrooms provide you with a boost of vitamin D, but some types give you even more than others. Check package labels for the amount of vitamin D they have, and look for ones with a higher amount.
Munching on a stalk of celery or putting it in a salad can help ease indigestion. When you eat it regularly, it can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
A serving of 40 almonds a day can help lower your cholesterol levels and keep you feeling full, which helps control your weight. Since almonds do contain a high amount of fat, it’s important not to eat too many of them.
Having one ounce of popcorn gives you a higher number of antioxidants than an ounce of fruits or vegetables. This is mainly due to the hulls in popcorn. This tasty snack is also high in fiber, but limit how much salt and butter you add to it or you’ll turn it into an unhealthy treat and MAKE SURE ITS NOT GENETICALLY MODIFIED CORN. Look for organic.
Cheese provides several important benefits for your teeth. It helps prevent mineral loss and tooth decay and also helps you rebuild protective tooth enamel.
Cocoa helps blood flow to your brain better, which leads to improved cognitive ability. Have a cup of hot cocoa when you’re feeling sluggish, and you’ll be able to think more clearly throughout the day.
If you already drink wine, aim to have between two and seven glasses a week. Wine helps ward off depression and boosts heart health.
The author Sandy Getzky is an associate editor at ProveMyMeds, a public health and education startup focused on producing helpful resources concerning the treatment of common ailments.