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Ten foods that fight common health problems discovered in 2011

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Seaweed, apples, olive oil and other foods found to fight disease in 2011.

Finding ways to prevent disease is a public focus. In 2011, researchers presented evidence that certain food can be powerful for disease prevention. Some foods should be added to the diet, and others eliminated, based on 2011 food and health research findings.

Seaweed: Though seaweed isn’t a mainstay of most diets, researchers found fibers in the green algae could promote weight loss. Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE), University of Copenhagen scientists discovered having a drink before meals helped people who find it especially hard to lose weight. Seaweed fibers can curb hunger by producing a sense of fullness, in turn leading to less eating. A seaweed salad a day might also help keep blood pressure lower, in addition to providing a variety of nutrients, found in a 2011 study review from Maria Hayes and her team at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Ireland and the University of London.

Tart cherry juice: For millions of insomniacs, tart cherry juice was found to be a decent sleep aid, combined with other therapies. Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed study participants got 39 extra minutes of sleep from drinking two servings of the drink each day. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for fighting obesity, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Kiwi fruit: Adding kiwi fruit to the diet can keep blood pressure lower. Mette Svendsen of Oslo University Hospital compared the antihypertensive benefits of kiwis with apples, finding the fruit could help lower blood pressure by almost 4 points – a significant benefit for people with mild hypertension. The good news is the study participants didn’t make any other dietary changes.

Strawberries: You can put down the antacids and stock up on strawberries to protect the stomach from ulcers and infection. European scientists discovered rats given a strawberry extract were protected from ulcer damage after they were fed alcohol. The study finding was published in the journal PloS ONE, October, 2011.

Grapes: The incidence of melanoma and other skin cancers has been on the rise. Scientists from Spain conducted in vitro studies showing grapes can prevent cellular damage caused by UV radiation. Grapes could also help prevent premature skin aging. The finding was published in the March, 2011 edition of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Olive oil: Extending quality life years is well worth the added expense of adding olive oil to your diet. Scientists from the American Academy of Neurology published findings in June, 2011 that olive oil can help lower the chances of stroke by 4.1 percent for people over age 65. A more recent study found olive oil could help prevent pancreatitis, and is published this month by scientists at Granada University.

Whole grains: Data published by National Cancer Institute in June, 2011 found eating plenty of fiber – especially from whole grains – could significantly cut your chances of dying from cardiovascular, respiratory, and infectious diseases up to 60 percent. Bulgur, barley, whole wheat flour, beans (navy, white, and kidney, black, pinto), lentils, split peas, cornmeal, and dates and several all-bran cereals are good sources of fiber that should be added to your New Year’s diet regimen, based on the Institute’s analysis of 219,123 men and 168,999 women.

Cooked tomatoes: Lycopene in cooked tomatoes and tomato paste lowered LDL - bad cholesterol levels - as effectively as some drugs in a study conducted by University of Adelaide researchers. Keeping LDL cholesterol lower naturally can help curb heart disease and stroke from formation of plaque in the walls of the arteries that block blood flow. A January 2011 study from Dr. Teruo Kawada, who is from Kyoto University, also supports adding tomatoes to the diet to prevent diseases of the arteries.

An apple a day: It’s no longer conventional wisdom that says “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Food scientists found women who ate dried apples in a study lost weight, raised their good HDL cholesterol levels, lowered their LDL cholesterol and had lower C-reactive protein levels (a bio-marker of systemic inflammation) that might lead to heart disease. The turnaround time for improving health from eating apples was just 6 months in the study.

Steamed broccoli: Steamed, not cooked, broccoli - with broccoli sprouts added - can lower cancer risk, found researchers who shared their findings January, 2011. According to the study, published in the journal “Nutrition and Cancer”, sulforphane, which is formed when broccoli is steamed. According to EmaxHealth reporter, Deborah Mitchell, “Broccoli compounds have also been shown to kill breast cancer stem cells, benefit the heart, and protect the lungs of smokers.” making it important to eat food prepared for maximum health potential.

Food can naturally fight disease, but not enough people consider the power of good nutrition seriously for promoting optimal health, longevity and quality life-years. Consider adding the above top ten foods to your list of healthy choices for 2012, based on research findings from 2011. You just may be able to avoid taking pocketful of medications.

Image credit: Morguefile