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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” 

This famous saying is attributed to 4thCentury Greek physician Hippocrates, but he never really said exactly that. He was one of the first physicians to link food with health. However, for Hippocrates, food was not to be confused with actual medicine.

Maybe that distinction – that food is food and medicine is medicine – is still mostly true, but modern science has identified nutrients and whole foods, and dietary patterns, that boost our level of health and decrease our risk for chronic disease. 

One finding I particularly support is that diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other plant foods are linked to a reduced risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and lower rates of chronic disease. That’s why I advocate the Mediterranean Diet as a life-long, healthy way of maintaining your weight loss.

Maybe that distinction – that food is food and medicine is medicine – is still mostly true, but modern science has identified nutrients, whole foods, and dietary patterns, that boost our level of health and decrease our risk for chronic disease.  

Specific plant foods have also been found to support improved health. Here are some of the most promising disease-busting foods you could include in your diet:

  • Berries. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are a rich source of numerous phytochemicals that research suggests have a variety of positive effects on human health, including reducing chronic inflammation and cancer risk.
  • Broccoli. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain a number of phytonutrients that have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which has benefits for cardiovascular health, healthy blood sugar and cancer prevention.
  • Cinnamon. Cinnamon has been found to have blood sugar-balancing attributes, even with just ½ teaspoon a day.
  • Cranberries. Research suggests that cranberries may prevent urinary tract infections, possibly because they prevent bacteria from adhering to cells inside the bladder. Opt for pure cranberry juice, rather than juices adulterated with other juices and sweeteners.
  • Garlic. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, there is probable evidence that garlic and other members of the allium family (onions, leeks, shallots, scallions) reduce the risk of developing common cancers.
  • Green tea. The phytochemical EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea has been shown to have some anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, and may have heart health benefits.
  • Nuts. Studies have shown nuts to be helpful for cardiovascular function and healthy blood sugar and weight levels.