These boring veggies and fruits can help turn your health around

  • Kavita Devgan, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 04, 2015 18:04 IST

You knew that eating green, leafy vegetables was good for you, but did you know that paalak helps you lose weight? Or that amla reduces hypertension? It’s time to re-evaluate those boring veggies and fruits. New research shows that they can help turn your health around. So let’s get started, shall we?

Pumpkin for smokers
Low in calories (just 26 per 100gm), loaded with carotenoid for sharp eyes, vitamin C for good skin, potassium to maintain electrolyte balance, and multiple flavonoids to boost immunity – pumpkin is the whole health package. But here’s more good news: if you’re a smoker, it even reduces the risk of lung cancer, as it is loaded with a carotenoid, beta-cryptoxanthin, which gets converted into vitamin A in the body.

A new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers And Prevention has shown 25 per cent lower risk for those who consumed the most cryptoxanthin. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, which smokers have less of, and which helps fend off free radicals that damage healthy lung cells. Pumpkin for dinner suddenly sounds good, right?

Spinach to lose weight
And no, that’s not just because it is high in fibre and low in calories. Research published in Lund University in Sweden has shown that spinach contains thylakoids, which decrease the craving for unhealthy foods up to 95 per cent, and increases weight loss by 43 per cent.

It states that thylakoids help the production of satiety hormones, leading to better appetite control. How about a green smoothie (with spinach, pineapple and banana) to start the day?

Rice to strengthen your heart
It is a perfect comfort food and a good source of fibre. And now Japanese researcher Satoru Eguchi and his colleagues at Temple University, Philadelphia, have identified a compound in rice which inhibits a hormone called angiotensin II.

The hormone can cause blood vessels to narrow and excess sodium to accumulate in the blood, leading to heart trouble. Researchers believe half-polished (milled) rice is the best option to get the maximum benefits. We recommend peas pulao for heart health.

Green bananas for strong bones
Bananas contain a mouthful of a compound, fructooligosaccharides, which helps the body absorb important bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium and magnesium. And green banana goes a step further as it delivers short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in addition, making it twice as effective in bone building.

Wine for cancer control
Red wine is great for your heart, helps keep cholesterol in check, maintains blood sugar and also boosts brain cells. If that wasn’t enough, a new study published in the December issue of the journal Advances In Experimental Medicine and Biology says that the chemical resveratrol found in grape skins and red wine may prevent cancer by killing damaged cells before they become cancerous.

Pomegranate to keep Alzheimer’s away
This red fruit is known for its heart-friendly properties. But a new study from the University of Huddersfield in UK published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research in July 2014 has declared that it can prevent Alzheimer’s and even slow its onset and progression; all because it has a miraculous antioxidant compound, punicalagin (a polyphenol). Juice it or peel a fruit and add it to salads or raita.

Yoghurt for avoiding diabetes
It is a great source of calcium (strong bones) and probiotics (great gut), but scientists have found another ace up its sleeve. A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that higher intake of yoghurt is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Now you know why grandma insisted on dahi!

Amla to reduce hypertension
Amla has a host of of benefits from digestive health to easing cough. It sits smug at the top of the vitamin C-rich foods. A study done by Japanese researchers has shown that this home-grown berry is an anti-inflammatory agent, an anticoagulant and also helps lower the risk of high blood pressure.

Kiwi to sleep better
Kiwi contains antioxidants, is high in fibre and rich in potassium. Plus, it is a great sleeping aid according to researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University. They found that eating kiwi every day improves both sleep quality and quantity. This is possibly because kiwi is loaded with antioxidants and serotonin, a hormone that also functions as a neurotransmitter which is critical for sleep.

Coffee for your liver
We all love a cuppa in the morning to wake us up, or to get us going mid-afternoon. But now a review of 16 studies, which surveyed more than 5,00,000 subjects over several years, has demonstrated coffee’s benefits for the liver. Coffee helps prevent liver inflammation, which is often related to hepatitis C, cirrhosis and liver cancer. So, would you like another shot of espresso?

From HT Brunch, April 5
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