10 health-boosting kitchen staples

The healing power of food is a natural marvel. From reducing cravings and stimulating satiety to relieving aches and pains, and even helping to  prevent disease.

Here are 10 tasty ingredients that should be kitchen staples, which could keep your body working like clockwork.

1.Tomatoes

Considered a vegetable, though botanically a fruit, tomatoes are packed with health enhancing properties. According to studies, tomatoes can help to prevent thrombosis, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes. They are great for skin health and anti-ageing, too. Betacarotene, also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, and lycopene help protect the skin against sun damage – a major cause of fine lines and wrinkles.

2. Chocolate

Yes, you read that right! But don’t go to town on Twix bars just yet. I’m talking about natural dark chocolate that contains the endorphin-releasing chemical phenylethylamine that makes you feel happy. Studies show that dark chocolate also helps lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.This improves cognitive function and reduces risk of stroke. This antioxidant packed food is a great source of sulphur, too, which helps strengthen nails and create smooth, shiny hair.

3. Sweet Potatoes

One of my favourite sources of vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine, a chemical linked with heart disease. Research shows that the inflammation fighting vitamin in the tasty tubers is critical for blood cell, bone and tooth formation, aiding digestion, accelerating wound healing, and producing collagen, helping maintain the skin’s youthful elasticity. It also contains breast cancer fighting vitamin D. With almost 90% of vitamin D made through sun exposure, women of African descent are at higher risk of deficiency as our pigmentation inhibits skin cells’ ability to produce the nutrient, says a new report.

4. Grapefruit

Promoting fat loss by reducing insulin levels, balancing blood sugars and curbing cravings, are some of the benefits of eating this vitamin C loaded subtropical citrus fruit. Grapefruit contains salicylic acid, which helps break down inorganic calcium that builds up in joint cartilage and consequently reduces arthritic symptoms. Researchers have found that grapefruit dissolves gallstones, detoxes the liver, boosts the immune system and promotes better digestion.

5. Beets

You can’t beat beets. Loaded with iron, potassium, magnesium, fibre, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine, vitamins A, B and C and for mums-to-be, folic acid, the anti-carcinogenic food promotes liver health and purifies the blood. Low in calories but high in sugar, beets have also been shown to boost energy.

6. Cheries

These little darlings are an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin that has anti-ageing and skin health benefits. The flavonoidqueritrin and ellagic acid in cherries have also been found by researchers to have potent anti-carcinogenic/anti-mutagenic powers and eliminate by-products of oxidative stress. Cherries are rich in water-regulating potassium. Someone say ‘amen’ to banishing the bloats!

7. Hot Peppers

The heat from chillies and other hot peppers – such as habaneros and cayenne – releases the chemical capsaicin into your system. In response, the body temporarily releases the stress hormone that speeds up your metabolism.

8. Almonds

One teeny-weeny ounce of this cholesterol busting nut gives you energy sustaining protein, cancer fighting vitamin E, muscle relaxing magnesium, bone and teeth strengthening calcium and phosphorous. Almonds are also loaded with cold-busting zinc, and digestionboosting healthy fibre.

9. Green Tea

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Green tea boosts the metabolism, has great antioxidants and may help prevent some forms of cancer. The mood-enhancing and energyproducing benefits of green tea can also help you work a little harder during your fat-burning workout

10. Spinach

A great source of iron, spinach fuels your muscles with oxygen and boosts energy.Compounds found in spinach make the body’s production of energy more efficient, which means you could do more during your workout. As well as reducing the risk of heart disease, research indicates that this green leafy vegetable also reduces the decline in brain function associated with ageing.

…And Get Seasoning

Give up toxic MSG-containing seasonings and opt for these natural and powerful options.

Turmeric:Recognised by Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for its healing powers, recent research has confirmed the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the spice and its ability to improve memory.

Ginger : Just a little ginger a day reduces aches and pains, according to a university study.

Cinnamon: This aromatic dessert favourite stabilises blood sugar, controls cravings and, as such, can lead to fat loss.

Fennel Seed: If you suffer from monthly cramps, you should at least try this. A study by the International Journal of Gynaecologyand Obstetrics found fennel seed to be an effective treatment for moderate to severe cramps.

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