8 Surprising Foods to Eat for Better Health

HoneyWe dig through the latest nutrition studies and research to find the information you need to know.

1. OK, Honey
Never has kicking back with a cuppa been so virtuous: By adding a dollop of this sweet stuff to lemon-flavored tea, you make it an even more nutritious sip, new research shows. Tea itself is steeped with antioxidants (linked to lower levels of heart disease and cancer), and the lemon adds still more. Honey then boosts the brew another notch, upping antioxidant activity by an average of 44%.

2. The Chocolate Cure
Savoring dark chocolate and other cocoa products with lots of heart-healthy flavonoids can lower your blood pressure, a new review has confirmed. The numbers sound tiny-an average of 2.8 points systolic and 2.2 points diastolic-but if you're on the borderline of hypertension, they could be enough to keep you off meds. Small treats are plenty: about 1 ounce of dark chocolate or 3 tablespoons of cocoa a day.

Related: 6 Better-For-You Summer Snacks

3. Spice It Up
Cinnamon may be known for its zing, but it can keep your blood sugar levels steady-even after a breakfast of a fast-acting carb like farina cereal, a recent study found. That means fewer blood-glucose spikes and plunges, which can cause those "I'm starving!" moments. Study volunteers added 2½ teaspoons of the spice to their A.M. meal, but sprinkles throughout the day very likely will work, too.

4. Happy Food
People who eat more fruits and veggies have higher levels of "mental well-being," a recent British study found. And while larger quantities of the healthy stuff correlated with greater mood lifts, participants didn't have to buy out the greenmarket: The happiness meter peaked at about seven portions a day-and a serving can be just six orange slices.

5. We Say "Tomato"...
…and so does your heart. In what could be considered juicy news, a Tufts University study found that people who ate a tomato-rich diet had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. The health boost comes from lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their color and (pizza lovers, rejoice!) be-comes even more concentrated in sauce. In the 11-year study, those who ate the most lycopene-watermelon is another rich source-had a 25% lower risk.

Related: Healthy Tips to Steal from Popular Diets

6. Heart-Smart Candy

As if their yumminess weren't enough, here's another good reason to make berries your go-to snack. In a Harvard study of 90,000 women, those who enjoyed at least three servings of strawberries or blueberries per week had a 32% lower risk of heart attack than women who ate them only once a month or less. This was true even if the berry-skippers had lots of other fruits and veggies. Berries' potent ingredients? Anthocyanins-plant pigments that make blood vessels more flexible and reduce blood pressure.

7. Power Plant
Not only does fresh basil add spark when used in caprese salad, pesto, and soup, but it's also full of disease-fighting antioxidants and essential oils. For the biggest health boost, savor it fresh-researchers recently found that a third or more of basil's polyphenols may be lost when the herb is dried. (Of course, dry basil is still a healthy choice if the fresh version is out of season.) Not sure how to cook with it? Here are 10 ways to use fresh basil.

8. Sugar Fix
Mango may taste like candy, but it's rich in health-boosting polyphenols and carotenoids. It may also help improve glucose levels: In one study, obese participants who ate the equivalent of about 2/3 cup of the tropical treat (roughly 65 calories) daily for 12 weeks significantly lowered their blood sugar-possibly due to the fruit's fiber, which can slow sugar absorption, say researchers.

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