Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body. That helps boost your immune system and helps provide protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup of the calcium and protein-rich goop a day. And choose wisely: Use our Best and Worst Yogurts.
There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 mg of lycopene a day, which is about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice. For the best picks in the produce aisle, click here.
Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids — fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis — but none are as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots. Aim for 1/2 cup a day.
Host to more antioxidants than any other North American fruit, blueberries can help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, also boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or 1/2 cup frozen or dried. Try this amazing blueberry smoothie!
Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut sounds like a Frankenfood, but it grows on trees. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts — about 1 ounce, or 7 nuts — is good anytime, but especially as a post-workout recovery snack.