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Foods studied that promote health and prevent disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
healthy food

Fourteen nutritional foods with proven health benefits for curbing disease are highlighted in Food Technology magazine.

Added to the list, from EmaxHealth published studies, are grapes, cherries, apples, watermelons and beets.

Health savvy consumers who want to maximize health through good nutrition should take note of the proven benefits of barley, quinoa and buckwheat, brown rice, nuts and several fruits and vegetables. The foods studied are powerful and can help fight diseases such as cancer, lower cholesterol, fight type 2 diabetes and obesity and keep blood pressure lower.

Nuts have multiple nutritional health benefits

Nuts that confer the greatest health benefits are almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and pistachios. In separate studies, the nuts listed provide fiber and delay absorption of fats to help fight obesity (almonds), reduce the chances of diabetes types 2 and risk of heart disease, in addition to slowing prostate cancer growth (walnuts), provide antioxidants when consumed with the skin (hazelnuts), protect the brain from neurodegeneration, possibly from vitamin E (pecans) and lower cholesterol and chances of heart disease (pistachios).

Nuts make up a large portion of the Mediterranean diet that is shown to curb the chances of overall mortality.

Nine fruits and vegetables that fight cancer, diabetes and more

Topping the list of healthiest fruits and vegetables are pomegranates, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, blueberries and black raspberries. Beets, watermelons and cherries have proven health benefits, and are added to the list of the fruits and vegetables highlighted in Food Technology magazine.

Tomatoes might fight prostate cancer (studies are mixed) and help keep blood pressure lower to decrease the chances of heart disease, as do blueberries, found in a recent study. The berries might also help fight obesity, found in a Canadian study.

Broccoli and cauliflower have been studied for their role in lowering the chances of breast cancer as well as prostate cancer in addition to curbing the chances of heart disease.

Black raspberries are high in antioxidant. Studies show consuming black raspberries might protect from colorectal cancer, prevent esophageal cancer and contain compounds that could help prevent and even treat skin cancer.

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Pomegranates could also help fight breast and prostate cancer and lower the chances of heart disease. The juice is also shown to lower the chances of complications from kidney dialysis.

Beets can keep blood pressure lower and help improve physical performance for athletes and elders, shown in two separate studies. Beet juice is also studied for its potential in keeping older brains sharp.

Watermelon can lower blood pressure because of beneficial nitrates in the fruit that are also found in beetroot juice. Lycopene in watermelon might also protect from skin cancer.

Tart cherries can ease arthritis pain, lower uric acid levels for individuals with gout, and lead to a more active lifestyle necessary to prevent heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Grapes have been touted for a variety of health benefits that include lowering the chances of heart disease, fighting obesity, and protecting from Alzheimer's disease.

Apples have heath benefits that researchers say could rival fish. In a series of studies, apples have been found to promote heart heath, help prevent infection, curb cancer and help maintain a healthy brain.
Whole grains fight belly fat, diabetes and cholesterol


Barley is known to lower total and bad, LDL cholesterol levels. Quinoa and buckwheat can enhance nutritional value of gluten free foods from consumption of the seeds and sprouts. Both are rich in polyphenols that act as scavengers against free-radical compounds that can produce disease conditions.

Brown rice can be substituted for white rice to curb the chances of diabetes and obesity. Rye bread curbs hunger and is especially beneficial consumed at breakfast or before and after lunch to help avoid snacking and empty calories.

Whole grain consumption in general - eating the bran, germ and starchy part of the grain - has also been suggested as an effective weight loss strategy. Whole grains eaten more than 3 times a day are shown to reduce subcutaneous belly and visceral fat in studies.

The message for public health and consumers at large is that healthy foods can reduce the chances of disease when incorporated into a daily diet, shown in studies. Given the rising rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer, the findings that nutrition is powerful for fighting chronic illness and disease is timely and important.

Updated 10/9/2015