These 10 superfoods are proven, expert-beloved disease fighters and energy boosters. Add them to your meals and get on the fast track to a super-healthy body.
LemonsWhy They're Healthy:
-- Just one lemon has more than 100 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C, which may help increase "good" HDL cholesterol levels and strengthen bones.
-- Citrus flavonoids found in lemons may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Add a slice of lemon to your green tea. One study found that citrus increases your body's ability to absorb the antioxidants in the tea by about 80 percent.
BroccoliWhy It's Healthy:
-- One medium stalk of broccoli contains more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement and almost 200 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C -- two essential bone-building nutrients.
-- The same serving also helps stave off numerous cancers.
Zap it! Preserve up to 90 percent of broccoli's vitamin C by microwaving. (Steaming or boiling holds on to just 66 percent of the nutrient.)
Dark ChocolateWhy It's Healthy:
-- Just one-fourth of an ounce daily can reduce blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals.
-- Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants shown to reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol and increase "good" HDL levels.
A dark chocolate bar contains about 53.5 milligrams of flavonoids; a milk chocolate bar has fewer than 14.
PotatoesWhy They're Healthy:
-- One red potato contains 66 micrograms of cell-building folate -- about the same amount found in one cup of spinach or broccoli.
-- One sweet potato has almost eight times the amount of cancer-fighting and immune-boosting vitamin A you need daily.
Let your potato cool before eating. Research shows that doing so can help you burn close to 25 percent more fat after a meal, thanks to a fat-resistant starch.
SalmonWhy It's Healthy:
-- A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of depression, heart disease, and cancer.
-- A 3-ounce serving contains almost 50 percent of your daily dose of niacin, which may protect against Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.
Opt for wild over farm-raised, which contains 16 times as much toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) as wild
WalnutsWhy They're Healthy:
-- Contain the most omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce cholesterol, of all nuts.
-- Omega-3s have been shown to improve mood and fight cancer; they may protect against sun damage, too (but don't skip the SPF!).
Eat a few for dessert: The antioxidant melatonin, found in walnuts, helps to regulate sleep.
AvocadosWhy They're Healthy:
-- Rich in healthy, satisfying fats proven in one study to lower cholesterol by about 22 percent.
-- One has more than half the fiber and 40 percent of the folate you need daily, which may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Adding it to your salad can increase the absorption of key nutrients like beta-carotene by three to five times compared with salads without this superfood.
GarlicWhy It's Healthy:
-- Garlic is a powerful disease fighter that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli.
-- Allicin, a compound found in garlic, works as a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.
Crushed fresh garlic releases the most allicin. Just don't overcook; garlic exposed to high heat for more than 10 minutes loses important nutrients.
SpinachWhy It's Healthy:
-- Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two immune-boosting antioxidants important for eye health.
-- Recent research found that among cancer-fighting fruits and veggies, spinach is one of the most effective.
Spinach is a healthy -- and flavorless -- addition to any smoothie. You won't taste it, we promise! Try blending 1 cup spinach, 1 cup grated carrots, 1 banana, 1 cup apple juice, and ice.
BeansWhy They're Healthy:
-- Eating a serving of legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) four times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by 22 percent.
-- That same habit may also reduce your risk of breast cancer.
The darker the bean, the more antioxidants it contains. One study found that black bean hulls contain 40 times the amount of antioxidants found in white bean hulls.