The following is a "healthy food hot list" consisting of the 29 food that will give you the biggest nutritional bang for you caloric buck, as well as decrease your risk for deadly illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Along with each description is a suggestion as to how to incorporate these power-foods into your diet.
The Power: Beta-carotene, which helps prevent free-radical damage and protect the eyes. The body also turns beta-carotene into vitamin A, which may help ward off some cancers, especially of the skin. One apricot has 17 calories, 0 fat, 1 gram of fiber. Snacks on them dried, or if you prefer fresh, buy when still firm; once they soften, they lose nutrients.
Oleic acid, an unsaturated fat that helps lower overall cholesterol and raise levels of HDL, plus a good dose of fiber. One slice has 81 calories, 8 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber. Try a few slices instead of mayonnaise to dress up your next burger.
Ellagic acid, which helps stall cancer-cell growth. These berries are also packed with vitamin C and are high in fiber, which helps prevent high cholesterol and heart disease. A cup has only 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of fiber. Top plain low-fat yogurt or oatmeal (another high fiber food) with fresh berries.
Vitamin C (117mg in half a melon, almost twice the recommended daily dose) and beta-carotene - both powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from free-radical damage. Plus, half a melon has 853mg of potassium - almost twice as much as a banana, which helps lower blood pressure. Half a melon has 97 calories, 1 gram of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Cut into cubes and freeze, then blend into an icy smoothie.
05. Cranberry Juice
Helps fight bladder infections by preventing harmful bacteria from growing. A cup has 144 calories, 0 grams of fat and 0 fiber. Buy 100 percent juice concentrate and use it to spice up your daily H20 without adding sugar.
Lycopene, one of the strongest carotenoids, acts as an antioxidant. Research shows that tomatoes may cut the risk of bladder, stomach and colon cancers in half if eaten daily. A tomato has 26 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Drizzle fresh slices with olive oil, because lycopene is best absorbed when eaten with a little fat.
These little gems are a great source of iron, which helps the blood transport oxygen and which many women are short on. A half-cup has 218 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Sprinkle raisins on your morning oatmeal or bran cereal - women, consider this especially during your period.
A good source of potassium and fiber, figs also contain vitamin B6, which is responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin, lowering cholesterol and preventing water retention. The Pill depletes B6, so if you use this method of birth control, make sure to get extra B6 in your diet. One fig has 37 to 48 calories, 0 fat and 2 grams of fiber. (Cookie lovers - fig bars have around 56 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber per cookie). Fresh figs are delicious simmered alongside a pork tenderloin and the dried variety make a great portable gym snack.
9. Lemons and Limes
Limonene, furocoumarins and vitamin C, all of which help prevent cancer. A wedge has 2 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Buy a few of each and squeeze over salads, fish, beans and vegetables for fat free flavor. See also: Beneficial Bytes:Lemons and Limes.