As we age, the food we eat can make a great difference to how our bodies function and cope with the ageing process. Our metabolism is gradually declining and what we eat becomes vital to ongoing health. Foods with a high nutrient content need to take the place of those that are not beneficial to our health. We need to be aware of foods that can help to lower our blood pressure and cholesterol as well as protect against disease. All of the 20 useful healing foods on the list below are not difficult to find and relatively inexpensive to buy.
If you have room for only one tree in your garden, plant an apple tree. Eating apples daily is good for your heart and can lower both total and LDL cholesterol. An apple contains soluble fiber that helps with digestion and maintains healthy blood sugar levels. Eat those peels too because they contain ursolic acid which is believed to help build muscle mass and reduce fat accumulation.
Globe artichokes are good for all liver complaints and gallstones. They lower cholesterol, relieve fluid retention and are excellent for rheumatism, arthritis and gout. Artichokes are underrated when it comes to their antioxidant benefits – a serving contains more antioxidant benefits than other foods like dark chocolate and red wine we normally think of as rich in antioxidants.
Bananas are nature’s magic fast food. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, B6 and zinc content are all good for heart health. They also promote the health of the digestive tract. Studies have shown that the amino acid called tryptophyn they contain plays a role in boosting mood and preserving memory.
Beets do have the highest sugar content of all vegetables but most people can safely eat them a few times a week and it’s worth including them for their potent health benefits. They contain phytonutrients which lower blood pressure, boost stamina, lower inflammation and help with detoxification.
Berries are being studied for their potential to boost the brain and slow down age-related memory loss. They increase blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. They are also are high in soluble fiber, helping to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.
The betacarotene in carrots is converted into Vitamin A by the body which is good for the eyes, excellent for liver problems and great for healthy skin. They also contain antioxidants that protect against heart disease and lung cancer.
This is a king of healing plants – antibacterial, antifungal and good for everything from bronchitis to athlete’s foot. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and improves circulation.
Grapefruit is a rich source of vitamin C so it helps to support the immune system. Pink and red grapefuit contains lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient and research suggests that this can reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer. Eating a grapefruit before each meal will help you to lose weight as it speeds up the metabolism, helps break down fats and reduces appetite.
Kiwis are very rich in vitamin C, fiber and vitamin E, and contain lots of potassium. They aid digestion, boost the immune system, help manage blood pressure and can even protect your eyes against macular degeneration.
Leeks were highly prized by ancient civilizations. They are beneficial for all breathing problems, are cleansing and diuretic, and excellent for gout, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Research shows that eating a daily serving of beans or lentils can help to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Beans and lentils are complex carbohydrates with high amounts of soluble fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are good for the digestive system and protective against cancers, particularly of the bowel.
Lemons help to strengthen the immune system, cleanse the stomach and purify the blood. They help with indigestion and constipation and can be used to treat throat infections and dental problems as well as respiratory disorders. They are beneficial to the hair and skin and help with rheumatism and high blood pressure.
Make a habit of snacking on nuts instead of cookies and chips and you will feel the benefit. They are full of nutrients – minerals like selenium, zinc, iron, lots of protein, healthy oils and the B vitamins. Eating an ounce of mixed nuts daily reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease. Fresh, unsalted nuts should form a part of everyone’s diet.
Adding a cholesterol-lowering food like oats into your diet is smart. It contains a soluble fiber that reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels. It is also rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins E and B and minerals. Plain oats is inexpensive and other healthy ingredients, like nuts, seeds, and fruit can be mixed with it.
An extra-virgin olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat. It helps to lower cholesterol levels but do remember that it is high in calories so be careful not to overuse it. It helps to improve blood sugar control and is rich in vitamin E which protects against cell damage. It is also good for liver and gallbladder problems, protects against arthritis, senility and some cancers.
Onions are from the same family as leeks and garlic. They are important in the treatment of all chest infections and should be eaten by anyone with high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, or heart disease. They are an excellent food for for those suffering from anemia, asthma, urinary tract infections and even hangovers.
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These have been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and help lower blood pressure. If you can get hold of wild salmon instead of farmed salmon, they contain fewer calories and less fat. This protein improves bone density and strength as well as being beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory joint conditions. Eating salmon can also reduce the risk and incidence of depression and cognitive decline. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D, an essential vitamin for optimal health. It’s selenium content helps keeps tissues healthy, preventing cell damage.
Popeye knew a thing or two as spinach is full of nutrients. Its potassium and iron content are important for regulating blood cells and blood pressure. It is high in carotenoids which helps to prevent age-related macular degeneration. It also contains vitamin K which helps to strengthen bones.
Watercress is high in vitamins A, C, and K and very low in calories. Like its relatives – cabbage, broccoli, sprouts and turnips, it is a great protector against cancer, rich in potassium and a type of mustard oil. It is powerfully antibiotic, without killing off natural bacteria, helps with urinary infections and is also a good stimulant of the thyroid gland.
A live yoghurt helps digestion and provides essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Live yoghurt is rich in beneficial bacteria that boost the immune system and protect against fungal infections. It’s not just any yoghurt that will do – some of the yoghurts in the supermarkets are more like desserts than health food with plenty of sugar and high levels of fat. Of course, if you make your own yoghurt, you know exactly what is in it and its not as difficult as you may think.