We’re all trying to eat healthier these days. But oh boy can it be tough. It seems like there are more “rules” to remember than ever before.
Eat this. Don’t eat those. And whatever you do NEVER eat THAT.
Frankly, it’s enough to make your head spin.
That’s why I’m going to share with you 5 surprising tricks you can start using today to ramp up the nutrition in the healthy foods you’re already eating with literally no extra effort.
Put these 5 zero effort food hacks to work for you starting today…
When they’re in season there are few fruits as refreshing or healthier for you than watermelon. Watermelons—like their name implies—are mostly water and they’re brimming with good for you nutrients including vitamins C, A and B6, lycopene, amino acids such as citrulline, beta carotene and other cancer-fighting antioxidants.
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon may help reduce blood pressure.1 It’s relatively high in vitamin C and antioxidant content which means it may help fight cancer and the delicious fruit can help keep you hydrated as well as reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.
Effortless Hack——avoid the refrigerator…
If you’re buying already sliced watermelon pick melon that that’s bright red rather than pink. The red flesh is a sign that it’s fully ripe and higher in beta carotene, lycopene and other antioxidants. Resist the urge to stick your melon in the fridge. Store it at a cool room temperature (in a basement for example) and allow it to fully ripen and you will effortlessly boost the fruit’s nutrient content.
I probably don’t need to tell you how delicious garlic is, but you may be surprised with how healthy this pungent herb is. Garlic is a good source of selenium, phosphorus and calcium. Plus it’s an excellent source of vitamin B6, manganese and vitamin C.
Garlic supports a healthy immune system. In a double blind placebo controlled study garlic was able to slash the number of colds in a group of volunteers by 63 percent compared to a placebo.2
The sulfur content in garlic makes the herb a natural anti-inflammatory and human studies show it can help expand blood vessels meaning it may help keep your blood pressure in check as a result.3,4,5,6 In fact, in one study it performed as well as a blood pressure drug.7
Garlic’s ability to naturally lower LDL, or so-called bad cholesterol, means it may lower your risk of heart disease as well.8,9.10 And emerging research hints that the same sulfur content may be able to play a role in fighting obesity.
Effortless Hack——chop garlic and let it sit…
So garlic is already an incredibly healthy choice, but it turns out you can boost its benefits even further with no extra work. All you have to do it let it sit. Literally.
Once you’ve crushed, minced or chopped your garlic let it sit and rest for at least 15 minutes before cooking with it. Sitting allows some of the enzyme allin to convert to allicin providing a broader range of health benefits. And it may also boost the herbs vitamin C and antioxidant content as well as other cancer-fighting compounds.
Tomatoes are delicious any way you eat them. They’re naturally rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which fight disease-causing free radicals. And they deliver a powerful punch of heart-healthy potassium and eye-friendly compounds such as beta carotene.
Effortless Hack——chop and cook your tomatoes…
When choosing fresh tomatoes look for smaller tomatoes that are a deeper red color. They will be richer in important nutrients including disease-fighting antioxidants.
But don’t just eat those tomatoes raw. Finely chopping or pureeing them and then cooking them in soups or sauces with a healthy fat like olive oil can turn tomatoes into cancer-fighting superstars.11
Chopping and cooking breaks down cell walls releasing more of the cancer-fighting lycopene trapped inside making it available for your body to absorb and use. The lycopene found in tomatoes helps prevent lung, stomach and prostate cancer.12 And there’s growing evidence that the nutrient may fight off a number of other cancers as well.
Good for you greens kale and spinach are overflowing with nutrition.
Kale is packed to the leaves in A, K, C, and manganese and delivers a healthy punch of copper. Vitamin K is essential for healthy bone development (it may help prevent osteoporosis), lung and heart cell growth and blood coagulation (helps your blood clot so you don’t bleed too much). Copper is essential for proper metabolism and vitamin A helps your body make red blood cells and maintain healthy skin. And Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps shore up immunities and fight the diseases of aging.
Spinach is no shrinking violet when it comes to nutrition either… far from it! This delicious green is high in zinc, niacin, vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, thiamine, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and more. Folate is critical for a healthy pregnancy and iron is important for women who are pregnant, those who may get pregnant and anyone suffering with anemia. The high magnesium content in spinach can help spinach lovers relax and get a good night sleep.
Effortless hack——pair your greens with citrus…
Add a dash of citrus such as orange, lemon or lime to your kale or spinach. The vitamin C unlocks the iron in these foods by helping your body break it down into a more easily absorbed form of this important nutrient.
Broccoli is high in vitamin K, C, chromium, folate and fiber. It’s a natural antioxidant superfood which could help reduce your risk for cancer and fight the signs of aging. And broccoli is rich in phytonutrients that naturally support your body’s detoxification systems.
But it’s the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane that really makes broccoli shine. Eating foods that are rich sulforaphane—a phytonutrient found in cruciferous veggies including broccoli and broccoli sprouts—could help prevent prostate cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and colon cancer.13, 14, 15, 16
Effortless hack——steam your broccoli and serve with a mustard sauce…
Sulforaphane, as well as other antioxidants in broccoli, are sensitive to heat. So overcooking your broccoli can destroy some of its cancer-fighting benefits. Microwaving this nutritious veggie can cause those delicious green stalks to lose up to 97 percent of their antioxidants and boiling can blow away 66 percent of them.17 Lightly steam your broccoli instead.
And to boost the cancer-fighting benefits of sulforaphane even further pair your broccoli with a mustard sauce. Mustard seeds are rich in the enzyme myronsianse which breaks down sulforaphane into absorbable nutrients.18
1. “Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension,” Am J Hypertens (2012) 25 (6): 640-643
2. “Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey.,” Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93.
3. “Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension,” Am J Hypertens (2012) 25 (6): 640-643.
4. “Garlic supplementation prevents oxidative DNA damage in essential hypertension,” Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Jul;275(1-2):85-94.
5. “Lipid-lowering effects of time-released garlic powder tablets in double-blinded placebo-controlled randomized study,” J Atheroscler Thromb. 2008 Dec;15(6):334-8
6. “Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension: a randomised controlled trial,” Maturitas. 2010 Oct;67(2):144-50. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.06.001.
7. “Effects of Allium sativum (garlic) on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension,” Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013 Sep;26(5):859-63.
8. “Garlic as a lipid lowering agent–a meta-analysis. and diastolic blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension,” J R Coll Physicians Lond. 1994 Jan-Feb;28(1):39-45.
9. “Garlic for treating hypercholesterolemia. A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials,” Ann Intern Med. 2000 Sep 19;133(6):420-9.
10. “Effect of garlic on serum lipids: an updated meta-analysis,” Nutr Rev. 2013 May;71(5):282-99. doi: 10.1111/nure.12012. Epub 2013 Mar 7.
11. “Lycopene and cardiovascular disease,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:1691S-1695S.
12. “Tomatoes, tomato-based products, lycopene, and cancer: review of the epidemiologic literature,” J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999;91:317-331.
13. “A novel mechanism of chemoprotection by sulforaphane: inhibition of histone deacetylase,” Cancer Res. 2004 Aug 15;64(16):5767-74.
14. “Sulforaphane (SFN): An Isothiocyanate in a Cancer Chemoprevention Paradigm,” Medicines 2015, 2, 141-156
15. “Hydrogen sulfide mediates the anti-survival effect of sulforaphane on human prostate cancer cells,” Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2011 Dec 15;257(3):420-8
16. “Isothiocyanate sulforaphane inhibits protooncogenic ornithine decarboxylase activity in colorectal cancer cells via induction of the TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway,” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Oct;54(10):1486-96.
17. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking,” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Volume 83, Issue 14, November 2003, Pages 1511–1516
18. “The glucosinolate-myrosinase system. New insights into enzyme-substrate interactions by use of simplified inhibitors,” Org Biomol Chem. 2005 May 21;3(10):1872-9.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
Follow Alice and HealthierTalk on Twitter and Facebook.