Gifts from Nature That Improve Your Health
By Alexa Santory
You know the phrase, “your body is a temple,” meaning it’s practically holy, so we should honor it as such and give it more of the things it needs. Food, in all of its delicious glory, is our fuel. And what we put in our bodies has some profound effects on how it functions. We all know a balanced gut is the secret to clearer skin. But what about all the other parts? Which of nature’s gifts fuels our brains? Our eyes? Our bones? Honor your body, mind, and soul with our list!
Improve Your Health...By Eating!
I don’t know about you but eating is one of my absolute favorite pastimes. I’m always down to eat and I’m always looking for new, nourishing foods to incorporate into my diet to offset the many indulgence I enjoy. Like, fries are my lifeblood, but I also drink kombucha and eat fresh fruit like it’s going out of style. It’s all about balance. I’m a big fan of targeting certain areas in my body with what I eat and drink. Kombucha, for instance, helps balance out my gut and keep my skin clear. Here are some of our favorite foods that’ll keep every part of your body nice and healthy!
The Best Foods for Everybody and Every Body!
Blueberries are one of the absolute best brain foods. These little berries pack an intense brain-supporting punch because they’re packed with antioxidants. Studies have found that blueberries protect the brain from oxidative stress. This is when there is an imbalance between the free radicals and our body’s ability to detoxify them and stop their harmful effects. Basically, they keep free radicals from wreaking havoc on our brains. They also help reduce the risk of age-related brain issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Try eating at least 1 cup of blueberries a day to get the full range of benefits!
Avocados have to be on this list in some way; you all know how much we love them! They’re considered a super food for a reason — they have benefits for pretty much every part of your body. But they edge out other foods in terms of what they can do for our brains. The pièce de résistance of avocados is their monounsaturated fats, the healthy fat that helps promote healthy blood flow, which equals a healthy brain. Avocados are also excellent for reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to cognitive issues, so consuming more avocados essentially makes your blood pressure lower and makes your brain that much sharper. Try and eat them as often as possible to maintain the benefits.
Wild Salmon is jam packed with brain supporting omega-3 fatty acids. There are actually two types of omega-3 acids: EPA and DHA and both are necessary in a healthy diet. They’re known for improving normal brain function because they already exist in the cell membranes of brain cells! A study found that in older adults, lower DHA levels decreases the brain size and increases brain aging. Keep your brain sharp by getting a higher amount of DHA in the diet to improve memory and cognition!
Nuts and seeds like hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and especially walnuts (which, oddly enough, look like little brains) are full of vitamin E, which is necessary for boosting cognition and reducing cognitive decline. Almonds are also great for giving a boost of energy and make for an excellent midday snack. Take it from me; a handful of lightly salted (keyword: lightly) almonds when you’re feeling hangry will make a world of difference. Walnuts get a special round of applause because of their high DHA content, which, as we know, is great for the brain. You can even get the brain healthy benefits of nuts from natural nut butters. Time to stock up on that almond butter!
Dark chocolate deserves a special shout out on this list because even our indulgences can be good for us sometimes! Dark chocolate is often praised for its high antioxidant content. It’s also a really good stimulant and another great midday pick-me-up. The caffeine in dark chocolate helps stimulate blood flow and increase concentration. Healthy blood flow, as we know, means a healthy brain! The only caveat here is that an indulgence is still, in fact, an indulgence. Try to only eat a little at a time; maybe one or two squares from a bar per day to really get all those stimulating benefits!
Oatmeal has been a breakfast staple in America since the Quaker oat man made his first (creepy) appearance on oatmeal boxes. Good advertising made oatmeal popular, but the benefits are what have kept it a staple in a healthy diet. Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which lowers bad cholesterol and keeps the heart pumping healthy blood! Try to avoid instant or “quick cook” oats, since those tend to have tons of added sugars. Always stick to whole oats or steel cut oats, since those are gonna give you all the soluble fiber without any extra stuff. One of the coolest things about oatmeal is that it’s totally customizable, and overnight oats are a great way to prep your breakfast with little effort. Here’s a simple overnight oats recipe that you can use as a base to add any ingredients you’d like!
Potatoes! Carb lovers rejoice! Potatoes can be super heart healthy if you eat them the right way! Potatoes are high in potassium, a vitamin that’s known to reduce blood pressure. Lower blood pressure means a healthier blood flow and a healthier heart. Potatoes are also super high in fiber, so they can also reduce the risk of heart disease. Like oatmeal, the beauty of potatoes is their versatility. The best way to get the heart-healthy benefits of potatoes is to avoid deep-frying them and sticking to baked or boiled options, both of which can be pretty bomb if you know your way around a spice cabinet. Keep your heart healthy by having your carbs and eating them too, it’s a win-win!
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in what’s known as the Mediterranean diet, a diet that’s high in grains, fruits, and veggies. It was found that people who consume at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil per day reduced their risk of a heart attack by 30%! Olive oil, like avocados, is high in monounsaturated fat. It helps reduce high cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Put it on your pasta! Dress your salad with it! Use it to dip your bread! Not only is olive oil delicious, it’s gonna give your heart a healthy boost!
Tomatoes, in all of their fruity glory, are excellent for your heart. They’re full of potassium, which helps lower high blood pressure. They’re excellent sources of vitamins K and C, folate, and beta-carotene — all of which our bodies need to stay healthy. The high antioxidant content in tomatoes reduces any oxidative stress and can prevent the arteries from clogging. Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene. This powerful antioxidant reduces bad cholesterol, leading to a lower risk of heart attack and heart disease! Whether you cook them or eat them raw, tomatoes are a healthy diet staple.
Legumes are a funny little name to round up all the beans, peas, and lentils we should be eating on the daily. Legumes have tons of protein, which our bodies need to function and stay energized. There aren’t any unhealthy fats in legumes either, so they’re great for keeping the heart strong. For those who have diabetes, legumes should be a staple in their diet because of their ability to control blood sugar levels. They also reduce the risk of heart disease! They’re also super high in dietary fiber, meaning it’ll keeping everything nice and regular on the digestion front too! Try and eat legumes 4 times a week to get all the benefits!
Plants Keep You Healthy!
I’m not just talking about the ones you eat either! Keep plants in your home, your office, or any of your personal spaces, is a great way to bring the outside inside and add a little life to your space! One of my best friends (Hi Julien!!) has a ton of plants in his apartment. Aside from his affinity for home decor in general, he loves taking care of his greenery and says it provides every space with a little extra something special. He’s even growing his own basil! Houseplants, like aloe, spider plants, rubber plants, or Gerbera daisies, are all solid options if you’re new to the game. Houseplants improve the air quality in any space you put them; they’re like living air purifiers! Plus, having to take care of something, no matter how low maintenance, will keep you more motivated! Try investing a houseplant or two to add some life and detoxify any space!
Houseplant benefits highlighted!
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