Eating healthier can be as easy as including more citrus fruits, berries, avocados and mushrooms in your diet. That's because these four foods are loaded with nutrients and compounds that can promote health and help prevent certain conditions and diseases.
Everyone knows citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C. But did you know vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants? Besides helping the body fight infection, vitamin C helps fight cell and tissue damage that could lead to disease.
Citrus fruits also contain a number of other essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, folic acid, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and a variety of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that can help lower the risk of some chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, blueberries top the list of antioxidant-rich fruits, followed by cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. These berries contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant that also gives berries their colors. Anthocyanin helps neutralize cancer-causing substances and may help prevent gastrointestinal cancers.
Berries are also a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and they contain ellagic acid, which may help prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, esophagus and breast.
Avocados contain nearly 20 beneficial nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, fiber, iron and potassium. They have higher fat content than most fruit, but the fat is mostly monounsaturated fat that's heart healthy.
In addition, avocados act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene as well as the antioxidant lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.
Mushrooms are high in fiber, low in calories and free of sodium, fat and cholesterol. The common white cultivated mushroom has lots of potassium, while the exotic shiitake is higher in fiber and protein, with lots of flavor. Potassium helps lower blood pressure, while fiber can help lower the risk of developing conditions including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.