Of the thousands upon thousands of foods in the world – and similarly thousands upon many thousands of associated health benefits – a person could spend their entire life studying nutrition and still only scratch the surface of Mother Earth’s bountiful cornucopia. So as we uncover the fascinating (and sometimes unbelievable!) secrets that her wholesome natural foods have to offer, it is impossible to not want to share them.
Here at Natural Living Ideas, we’ve compiled a short list containing some of the best and most exciting benefits offered by everyday whole foods which we have uncovered over the past couple of years in our ongoing mission to help you live a happier and healthier life. Without further ado, here are 10 of our favorite ordinary foods with some very extraordinary abilities:
While the story about how drinking okra water can cure diabetes is a myth, there is some truth behind it. The fiber and complex carbohydrates naturally present in okra do significantly impact blood-glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar in the GI tract, effectively balancing out the peaks and dips so your metabolism can function properly.
While there are many foods which have earned a name for themselves due to their cancer-fighting phytonutrients, few can match the might of the humble carrot. Falcarinol, a phyto-nutrient naturally present in carrots has been studied and verified to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells – an effect which increases when carrots are lightly cooked or steamed before being eaten.
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
Due to their high vitamin C content, it is a popular misconception that oranges and orange juice are the best foods to eat for boosting your immune system and warding of a cold. However, at an incredible 500 mg per fruit (give or take 50 mg), the average sweet red or yellow bell pepper contains over three times as much vitamin C as a similarly-sized orange – and at only around half the calories!
This funny-looking little fruit (technically a berry) is well-known for its ability to improve just about every aspect of your health. Here’s one thing you probably didn’t know: eating avocados can save your vision.
Lutein and zeaxanthin – two fat-soluble carotenoids naturally present in avocados – act as antioxidants for your eyes. Add to that the avocado’s generous portion of healthy fatty acids which greatly increase your body’s ability to absorb said carotenoids and you have a perfect combination for the prevention of macular degeneration, cataracts and other age-related ocular disorders, as well as increased protection against certain damaging wavelengths produced by both sun- and artificial light.
Read more about the Amazing Avocado here.
5. Kiwi Fruit
High in vitamin C and a variety of flavonoids and carotenoids, the kiwi fruit is an antioxidant powerhouse. Most notably, the kiwi is known for its ability to protect human DNA from free-radical damage. Also very low in calories (around 40 per fruit), the kiwi fruit makes a delcious and nutritious addition to salads and smoothies, or as a topping for yogurt, granola, cereal and other breakfast favorties.
Of all foods which are considered to be aphrodisiacs, raw oysters are quite possibly the most notorious of them all. It’s a scientific fact that oysters contain a high concentration of rare amino acids which increase the production of sex hormones in humans. The amount of amino acids produced by these molluscs changes with the seasons, but are known to peak during spring.
Not truly a vegetable, mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi and they are quite possibly the most underrated food to ever make it onto your dinner plate. While quite common, the mushroom’s health benefits are neither widely praised nor well-known to the average person.
Mushrooms are anti-microbial (including against other fungi!) Some species of mushroom have even been proven effective in killing resilient strains of bacteria like MRSA. More impressive than that is the fact that mushrooms are anti-viral – containing several compounds which prevent viruses from replicating after they enter human cells.
The next time you catch a cold, don’t reach for over-the-counter drugs. Have a hearty bowl of delicious mushroom soup instead!
Like mushrooms, garlic is one of a small handful of anti-viral foods. In fact, garlic is so effective at disrupting the viral life-cycle that it is one of the most highly-recommended natural remedies for preventing HSV outbreaks before they can become large, painful blemishes.
Other notable boons offered by this inconspicuous little root are garlic’s ability to protect the nervous and cardiovascular systems from oxidative damage, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol, increase energy levels and facilitate the removal of heavy metals from the body.
Last but certainly not least, garlic is a natural mosquito deterrent. If you’re at all familiar with allium sativum, you probably already know that eating enough of it will make you smell like a garlic bulb the next day. While it may not be the most pleasant insect-repellent, it’s far better for your health than spraying synthetic chemicals all over your body. At the same time, you’ll reap the internal benefits from having eaten the garlic to begin with. What’s not to love?
9. Free-range Chicken Eggs
Consider for a moment that a chicken egg is a tiny capsule designed to provide the nutrition required to grow a single microscopic cell into baby bird. That said, it’s no wonder that eggs are one of the world’s most perfect natural foods.
Eggs are high in protein which helps to keep your blood-glucose and metabolism stable throughout the day. The nutrients naturally present in eggs provide the body with energy, facilitate the removal of waste toxins from the body, and are needed for cellular replication. They also contain vitamins and minerals which support healthy liver, nervous system, and cardiovascular function.
While they have been labeled as being bad for the cholesterol, the fats provided by eggs – the yolk, to be precise – are “good” natural fatty acids which our bodies require to build healthy hormones, as well as to maintain skin, hair and nail health.
Read more about Foods That Naturally Balance Hormones here.
When choosing eggs, be sure to reach for certified humane free-range eggs whenever possible. Hens raised in a healthy and natural environment produce eggs with significantly higher nutritional value than those raised in the cramped and unsanitary conditions commonly found on commercial farms.
Smooth and sweet with subtle hints of floral and fruit flavors, packed with vitamins and minerals, and completely unparalleled by anything humankind has ever created in our attempts to replicate it; honey is truly a miracle of nature.
Pure honey provides energy to the body without damaging blood-glucose levels like most other natural sweeteners. Consuming honey produced by local bees offers relief from seasonal allergies. Honey can be used to cleanse and soften skin, to speed wound healing and to relieve pain. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, as well as antibacterial and anti-fungal.
All of these incredible healing properties are the direct result of the diligence of one tiny insect. Read more about bees and learn a few small ways that you can say “Thank you” to your local hives in this great article!