healing foodsBy Jessica Girdwain
Straight from your pantry-up energy, get glowing skin, sleep better and more. Photo by Melissa Punch/Studio D; prop styling by Lauren Shields for Halley Resources
1. Extra-virgin olive oil eases achy muscles.
It's rich in a component called oleocanthal that speeds muscle repair. In fact, research shows that consuming about 3½ Tbsp oil throughout the day is the anti-inflammatory equivalent of approximately 10% of the standard ibuprofen dose. Add some to a post-workout salad or on top of mixed steamed vegetables.
Related: See 50 surprising foods under 100 calories.
2. Pineapple heals bruises fast.
This tropical fruit contains bromelain, a compound that calms the skin inflammation that happens when you get a bruise. Eat about a cup and a half of pineapple chunks throughout the day and drink water to speed healing.
3. Gazpacho cures summer colds.
This chilled soup is a blend of tomatoes and vegetables-including onions and garlic, which have antiviral properties (they attack sickness-causing germs). The produce also boosts your intake of certain vitamins that help strengthen your immune system.
4. Chamomile tea reduces bloating.
Chamomile helps relax the muscles around your GI tract, and the water in the tea improves digestion to shrink a bloated tummy. For the best relief, look for teas that are all chamomile rather than a blend.
Related: Try these easy exercise drills to slim down fast.
5. Cheese and crackers perk you up in the afternoon.
The crackers pack energizing vitamins B 6 and B 12 (look for those that list 100% whole grain as the first ingredient), while lowfat cheese has protein. That combo stimulates the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, which gives you energy to power through the P.M. Cap snacks at 200 calories (about 1 oz lowfat cheese and 8 crackers).
6. Cherry juice helps you fall asleep faster.
Tart cherries contain melatonin-a sleep-promoting compound that's a rare find in food (other sources include walnuts and bananas). In one study, people who drank this juice daily had better-quality zzz's compared with those who didn't sip. Cherry juice won't knock you out, but it may help you fall asleep easier. Drink it any time of day, or try adding 6 oz to a smoothie.
7. Watermelon zaps headaches.
This water-rich fruit transports key nutrients to the brain and keeps you hydrated. (Even mild dehydration can lead to more frequent and severe headaches, according to one study.) A little bit of natural sugar from the fruit will fuel brain cells to increase alertness, too. Snack on a watermelon slice, or cut into cubes and add to a glass of water.
Related: Ease stress with these 8 calming foods.
8. Parsley fights allergies.
Eating parsley may help prevent allergy flare-ups because it contains an antioxidant called quercetin that helps reduce the release of histamines. Fewer circulating histamines means you'll experience fewer symptoms when exposed to allergens. Add it to salads, or mix with olive oil and lemon to make a chicken topping.
9. Turmeric does it all!
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin-the antioxidant that gives the mild-flavored spice its bold color-turmeric helps ease arthritis pain and swelling, enhance immunity, improve digestion, possibly prevent cancer and may even help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. Luckily, the spice isn't overpowering, so you can easily add it to any dish. Try shaking ½ tsp into vegetable soup or a stir-fry, or mix it into rice.
SOURCES: Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, author, The SuperFoodsRx Diet. Julius Few, MD, founder, The Few Institutes for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, New York and Chicago. Patricia Fitzgerald, DAOM, DHM, CCN, director, Santa Monica Wellness Center, and author, The Detox Solution. Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and founder, Nutrition Today with Amy J. Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, and director, Integrative Health and Healing, Miraval Resort.
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