The 1 Common Food That Can Help Prevent Cancer and Heart Disease Will Surprise You

There are certain foods that are so versatile, you can pair them with virtually any dish. Whether it’s an Italian dinner, an Asian dish, or just some roasted veggies, you can almost always find a way to add a little garlic. This small root vegetable has amazing health benefits — and it’s not the only food of its kind. Read on for why you should be eating more garlic, plus learn what else you should be putting on your plate.

The benefits of garlic

peeled garlic

Garlic makes everything better. | iStock/Getty Images

Garlic is bursting with essential nutrients, such as manganese and vitamin B6. Manganese is a trace nutrient that your body needs to function properly. It helps form connective tissue and bones. It also plays a role in regulating your metabolism, and it’s necessary for normal brain and nerve function. B vitamins are used for converting food into energy. Vitamin B6 is essential for brain and nerve health. It helps both the brain and nervous system function properly. Some studies show it can also help prevent dementia — and the health benefits don’t stop there.

Next: Here’s why garlic is good for your heart. 

How does it prevent heart disease?

Woman having heart attack symptom

Garlic is powerful stuff. | iStock.com/Tharakorn

In three separate studies, garlic was shown to significantly reduce plaque buildup in the heart. It also works against an enzyme called angiotensin, which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. By working against that enzyme, garlic can help reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. Although it’s not as effective as medication, adding garlic to your diet is an easy way to improve heart health.

Next: Garlic’s cancer-preventing benefits

How does it prevent cancer?

crushed garlic on wooden background

It even helps prevent cancer. | thodonal/iStock/Getty Images

According to Reader’s Digest, garlic contains sulfur compounds that can help stimulate the immune system’s natural defenses against cancer. Garlic has also been shown to reduce tumor growth. And studies suggest a diet rich in garlic can help reduce the likelihood of developing stomach cancer.

While garlic has many preventative properties, it’s not the only food with these types of benefits. The following are a few other foods you should start incorporating into your daily diet.

Next: This green is called a superfood for a reason.

Kale

fresh green kale

Incorporating kale into your diet is never a bad idea. | jenifoto/iStock/Getty Images

Cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, contain bioflavonoids and carotenoids. Both of these compounds help prevent cancer. Plus, they contain indoles, which induce the production of cancer-fighting enzymes. As far as heart health goes, kale is also full of potassium. Studies show enough potassium helps reduce the risk of heart disease. It is filled with vitamin B6 and fiber, which are both known for improving heart health, as well.

Next: This fruit’s juice is heart-healthy and has cancer-preventing nutrients.

Pomegranate

Red juicy pomegranate

This fruit is as healthy as it is colorful. | iStock.com

Reader’s Digest reported that studies show pomegranate juice can help prevent prostate cancer. They found drinking 1 cup of pomegranate juice every day reduced rising levels of prostate-specific antigen. Evidence suggests pomegranates can also lower systolic blood pressure. One study found pomegranate juice also slowed the formation of plaque in the heart.

Next: This seafood is great for your heart — and preventing cancer.  

Wild salmon

Fresh salmon

For optimal benefits, make sure it’s caught in the wild. | iStock.com/g215

A study out of Australia found people who ate at least four servings per week of wild salmon cut their blood cancer risk by nearly a third, according to Reader’s Digest. Blood cancers include leukemia, myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fish are also full of omega-3 fatty acids, which improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and decreasing triglycerides. The omega-3s, plus other nutrients, make fish a great option for reducing your risk of heart disease.

Next: Antioxidants give this little fruit a lot of power. 

Blueberries

Fresh blueberries

Eat them alone or in your breakfast cereal. | iStock.com

Blueberries contain phytochemicals, which means they are full of antioxidants. This, plus their manganese and fiber, makes them a food known for preventing cancer. Also, the compounds in blueberries help widen arteries to encourage blood flow. Blueberries don’t contain any saturated fat, and their high fiber content helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

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