Eggplants are a good source of iron, calcium, potassium, and Vitamins B1, B3, and B6, which are essential in the human body. The skin of an eggplant contains essential phytonutrients, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants that improve blood circulation and nourishes the brain. Bioflavonoids relieve stress, regulate high blood pressure, and together with Vitamin K, prevent blood clots by strengthening capillaries. Eggplants are rich in fiber, which protects the digestive tract. They have low fat content, hence ideal for those with type 2 diabetes, and anyone with weight problems. Nasunin, an antioxidant, protects the lipids found in brain cell membranes from free radical damage, and also lowers cholesterol in the body. It also improves blood flow to the brain. Eggplants contain phenolic compounds which have chlorogenic acid that decreases low-density lipid levels and also serves as an antimicrobial and antiviral agent.
Consumption of one cup of eggplant provides 10 percent of daily fiber needs. Increasing its intake decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes increases body energy and lowers body weight. Its dietary fiber is essential for weight management. It serves as a bulking agent and its mineral contents increase the level of satisfaction and reduce appetite making one feel fuller hence reduce the amount of food intake. This reduces calorie intake into the body hence contributes to a healthy weight management.
You can include eggplants in your stews and vegetable and curry stir-fries. Eggplants are also used to make dips, and as sandwich fillings. They can be baked, roasted or steamed. When buying eggplants, go for those that are firm and heavy, with a smooth and glossy skin. Avoid those that have bruises, discoloration and scars. Either side of the eggplant (the stem and cap), should have a bright green color. Store them in a refrigerator until you ready to consume.
5. Bell Pepper
Bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps in the body’s absorption of iron and protects the body from scurvy, while boosting the body’s immunity. They contain Vitamin A which improves eyesight, and Vitamin B6 and folate, which help prevent anemia by ensuring the formation of the red blood cells. They contain lots of antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which are important in cancer fighting. Bell peppers are sources of vital minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, potassium and magnesium. Several phytochemicals and carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, contained in bell peppers have anti-inflammatory properties. Capsaicin in bell peppers reduces bad cholesterol and eases inflammation. Bell peppers also contain vitamin K1 which are important for bone formation and blood clotting.
They are low in calories and contain many antioxidants making them favorable to be incorporated into any diet. Bell peppers are mostly made up of water and carbs which mean high sugar in form of fructose and glucose which play an essential role in maintaining body alkalinity. They have lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids which improve eye health. They also happen to be rich in iron which is essential in blood thus preventing anemia in the immune system. The vitamin C in it also increases the absorption of iron from the gut. Bell pepper consumption has no side effects however it can cause allergies for some people.
Bell peppers can be served raw in salads, or cooked in stir-fries. They can be grilled and served with dips or sauces. In Italy, they are some of the popular ingredients used when making pizza and pasta. Fresh bell peppers are crisp and bright in color (whether red, yellow, orange or green) with green stems. Avoid the ones with soft spots or darkened areas. Though bell peppers can be eaten at any stage of their development, their vitamin C and carotenoid content are optimal when the bell peppers are ripe.
Onions contain a flavonoid, quercetin, that reduces the symptoms of bladder infections, improves prostate health, lowers blood pressure and improves dental health by fighting the bacteria that cause dental decay. They contain high levels of antioxidants that reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of cancer and help improve heart health. Onions are a source of Vitamin C that helps fight the formation of free radicals that cause cancer. The fiber in onions helps in digestion, and oligofructose, a soluble fiber, promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestines. Some minerals found in onions help regulate blood sugar by triggering increased production of insulin. Onions also contain vitamins A, B6, and E plus minerals such as sodium, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. They are a good source of folic acid.
Onions are best consumed raw than when cooked. This is because onions contain a variety of organic sulfur compounds that have volatile oil that has many health benefits. These minerals are destroyed by heat. They contain allyl propyl disulfide which has similar effect to insulin thus playing a role in balancing the blood sugar levels. They should be stored in a well-ventilated area to avoid damage. The manganese mineral in onions provides relief to cold and flu since it contains anti-inflammatory abilities. Onions have a significant amount of polyphenols and an antioxidant flavonoid called quercetin which has anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic functions which play a role in disease prevention. Cooking them in soup does not diminish this disease prevention property.
Since flavonoids have a higher concentration in the outer flesh layers of onions, try to peel off as little of the edible portion as possible, when removing its outermost paper layer. Onions can be used raw in salads and sandwiches or added to dips and salsas. They can also be used in savory dishes. Fresh onions have crisp and dry outer skins.
7. Dried Fruit
Dried fruits are several times more alkaline than fresh fruits because dehydration of fruit results in the cations (positively charged ions) present in them becoming more concentrated. They are a great source of energy and fiber, though one should be careful since they contain more calories than fresh fruit. Dried apples and apricots contain phytonutrients, powerful antioxidants that help rid the body of cancer-causing agents, and are a good source of fiber. Dry apricots and prunes have very high levels of potassium that helps in maintaining the required blood pressure level. They also have high iron content, which helps prevent anemia. Raisins contain phosphorous, iron, potassium and magnesium, and they help promote blood circulation.
Dried fruit have more concentration of nutrients due to dehydration. They contain antioxidants that are twice as potent as those in fresh fruits. Dry fruit is loaded with fiber. A dried piece of fruit contains almost as much nutrient content as a fresh one. It contains 3.5 times the fiber, vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit. However, some nutrients such as vitamin C are greatly reduced when the fruit is dried. However, fiber contained in large amounts provides a source of antioxidants which include polyphenols which contribute to health in ways such as improving blood flow, better digestive health, and decreased oxidative damage and reduced risk of diseases. Intake of dried fruit increases nutrient consumption and reduces obesity risk. Eating dried fruit means improving blood sugar control, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and decrease in inflammation. Due to the high fiber content, dried fruit is very filling and it helps fight oxidative damage in the body.
When buying dry fruits you, however, should check out for added sweeteners such as sugar and corn syrup. Avoid fruits that have sulphite preservatives. One should be aware that dried fruit has relatively higher calories of sugar than fresh fruit. Eating too much of them, therefore, can contribute to weight gain and many other health problems.
Cucumbers are vegetables that are made up of 95% water. They are very high in fiber, which helps in digestion. They contain lignan, which helps fight cancer and cardiovascular disease. Cucumbers are important for hydration due to their high water content. Cucumbers are ideal for people looking to lose weight, due to their high water and low-calorie content. They are an excellent source of silica, which strengthens the connective tissues in joints. Vitamin K found in cucumbers improves calcium absorption, which in turn improves bone, muscle and cartilage health. The high water content in cucumbers is useful in sweeping out waste products from the body. They ensure kidney health by lowering the levels of uric acid in the body.
The peel and seeds are the most nutrient dense parts of the cucumber as they contain fiber and beta carotene a form of vitamin A that is good for maintenance of the human eye. Cucumbers are a good source of minerals and they contain high levels of calcium which is essential for body development. They also have small amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A. They contain the anti-inflammatory compound which helps in removing waste from the body and reduce skin irritation. The mineral properties in it also contribute to promoting anti-wrinkling and anti-aging activity. Vitamin K is important for bone formation and one cup of cucumber contains 19 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. Cucumber contains antioxidants like beta carotene and manganese which also have anti-inflammatory properties. They have immune benefits thus help the body immunity system stay strong and fight against diseases.
Cucumbers are best consumed raw. They are a great salad and sandwich addition. You can add them to your drinking water for extra hydration, or include them in your vegetable juice. Fresh cucumbers feel firm, with a bright green and even skin color. Avoid any that have discoloration and blemishes, or those that easily bend.
Almonds, a popular tree nut, are extremely nutritious and healthy. They are an excellent source of antioxidants, which help prevent damage to cell molecules and cancer. The antioxidants are mostly found in the brown layer of the skin, hence almonds that have had their skin removed are not the best choice. They are rich in fiber, healthy fats and proteins, which makes them ideal for diabetics. Magnesium, found in high levels in almonds, is important for blood sugar and blood pressure control. Calories found in almonds help lower the levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants in almonds help improve heart health.
They are used as a health solution to relief from constipation, respiratory disorders, cough, anemia, impotency, and even diabetes. They are highly nutritious and act as a source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and niacin. When compared with other fruits they contain the most nutrients. Almonds are considered very helpful in the development of the human brain. They contain two vital brain nutrients that are riboflavin and L-carnite which increases brain activity hence resulting in creating neural pathways. This decreases the occurrence of the Alzheimer disease. Almonds also regulate cholesterol in the body. They play a role in healthy bone formation since they contain phosphorous, vitamins and minerals. They also prevent an onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis. The vitamin E in its minerals is instrumental in heart health and presence of magnesium is essential in preventing heart attacks. The almond skin contains flavonoids which combine with vitamin E to form a shield against damage to the wall of the artery. Basically, almonds are a great source of alkali materials and they are able to strengthen the immunity system. The high vitamin E mineral content enables the body to eliminate all the damaging free radicals in the immune system hence acting as prevention against chronic diseases. Almonds help in preventing the rise of glucose and insulin levels in the body after meals. This offers protection against the rise in blood sugar level and development of diabetes.
They can be eaten raw as a snack, or as an ingredient in products such as almond butter, milk, and flour. They can also be added as ingredients in salads, casseroles, and other dishes.