This sweet orange-hued fruit is loaded with potassium, fiber and vitamins A and C, as well as beta-carotene and lycopene. And while fresh apricots contain lots of potassium, the dried version actually contains more of the nutrients than the fresh version, according to the New York Times. Research has also suggested that apricots could help to decrease liver cancer risk because of their levels of vitamin E.
Asparagus is loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, B6, C and E, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chromium and fiber. Plus, Eating Well reports that it has lots of glutathione, which helps to fight against harmful free radicals and carcinogens. Just 5 ounces of the veggie contains enough folic acid to meet 60 percent of our recommended daily intake of the nutrient.
The iron-packed herb, popularly used in Italian and Thai cooking can help to quell anxiety and even kill skin-borne bacteria when applied topically. Animal studies have also suggested that basil could play a role as an anti-inflammatory, painkiller and antioxidant.
Black pepper, which comes from the Piper nigrum plant, has been linked with health benefits ranging from fighting bacteria, to helping the digestive system. Plus, a recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that pipeline in black pepper, which is the compound responsible for its spicy taste, could impact the production of fat cells by affecting gene activity
Like brown rice, black rice is packed with iron and fiber because the bran cover that is removed to make rice white remains on the grain. This darker version has even more vitamin E, and contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries.
A cup of carrot sticks or slices provides you with a whopping 400 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, part of the reason carrots get their well-deserved reputation for boosting eyesight. But the crunchy veggie is also a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamins C and K. Like sweet potatoes, they get their orange hue from beta carotene, which can help your immune system and skin.
Do yourself a favor and turn up the heat! The compound responsible for a hot pepper’s kick, capsaicin, can fight diabetes and cancer and may even promote weight loss.
Oranges earned a spot on our original list, but grapefruit, lemons, limes and tangerines all deserve a shout out, too. Of course you probably know that all citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, but they also all contain fiber, which can help you stay full for longer. Citrus fruits also contain a compound that seems to reduce stroke risk according to a recent study.
Smelly, sure, but garlic boasts a heaping serving of antioxidants that appears to protect against breast, prostate, colon and other cancers. It’s also a natural immunity booster, fighting off bacteria and viruses alike, and can keep your ticker in tip-top shape, too.
Although hemp is most often associated with its hazier, mostly illegal botanical cousin marijuana, this plant is a source of complete vegetarian protein that is easily digestible for people. With high levels of omega-3 and omega-6, researchers are particularly interested in the potential for hemp to help prevent heart disease and athleroscerosis. Some studies have already shown that the lineoleic acid in dietary hempseed can help prevent high blood pressure. Hemp seeds, which have no psychotropic effect, are available in many forms: roasted as snacks, pressed as an oil or ground into a flour. There’s hemp milk, hempseed butter and even hemp cheese.
Jicama, the sweet-fleshed, high fiber root vegetable that grows in Central and South America, is actually a health food. It’s a high-volume, low calorie food with a great deal of fiber, which is an essential part of a healthy diet. Jicama is also high in vitamins C and K.
Kiwis are technically berries and so it isn’t surprising that they are just as nutritionally jam-packed as well-known super foods like blueberries. The fruits have high levels of vitamins C and E, potassium and the antioxidant lutein, which has been shown to not only help prevent free radical cellular damage, but also help protect eyesight by playing a role in preventing macular degeneration. One Norwegian study found that eating two kiwis per day additionally thinned the blood of study subjects, helping to prevent blood clots.
Chock full of fiber, pectin and vitamins A, C, and B6, mangoes can play a role in boosting immune response, protecting eyesight, managing cholesterol and blood sugar and even cancer prevention. In fact, one study found that dietary mango pulp helped protect against cellular damage in mice, thanks to an abundance of the antioxidant lupeol.
These little fruits are a rich source of heart protective monounsaturated fats, but they also help prevent the inflammation that can contribute to arthritis, type 2 diabetes and possibly cancer, thanks to a phytochemical called oleocanthal. What’s more, some evidence suggests that olives may boost cognitive function, or at least help prevent decline, thanks to the polyphenol hydroxytyrosol.
You many not enjoy the experiencing of slicing them, but onions are worth a few cutting-board tears. Onions have been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as reduced heart attack and heart failure risk. A National Cancer Institute study found that eating 10 grams of onions (or scallions or garlic, both close relatives) a day was linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer. And red onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties.
Perhaps most well-known as a pizza topper, this unassuming spice packs some surprising power. Just half a teaspoon contains the same antioxidants as 3 cups of raw spinach. One tiny teaspoon has a gram of fiber and 14 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K, which can help keep bones healthy and strong.
This brightly-colored fruit is loaded with immunity-boosting vitamins A and C and may help with digestion. That reddish color is due in part to lycopene, which, in conjunction with papaya’s other carotenoid, beta-cryptoxanthin, seems to fight cervical cancer in particular.
A cup of pineapple chunks contains over 130 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C for a healthy immune system. Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain, which may fight inflammation, blood clots and even help the body absorb antibiotics.
Just a teaspoon of this seasoning delivers 7 percent of your daily recommended iron intake, and it’s also a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K. The antioxidant-rich oils in the versatile herb were shown to boost brain power in aging rats.