The foods that we often feel guilty about eating can help to save your life. Contrary to what you might think, we aren’t limited to the obvious healthy foods: fruit and veg. Here’s our refreshing approach to healthy eating.

We’ve compiled a list of our five favourite health-boosting foods and the reasons why they can save your life. Here's our refreshing approach to healthy eating.

chocolate


Life-saving food number 1: Chocolate

Exciting news for chocolate lovers: studies have shown that chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attacks and protect against deadly blood clots. Indeed, US researchers published in the British Medical Journal explain that chocolate can lower the risk of heart disease by over a third.

This is achieved by natural health-promoting flavonoids, which improve the blood flow through the vessels to decrease the chances of heart attack. In fact, researchers have even recommended that anyone going on a long-haul flight should eat chocolate to promote healthy blood flow, lowering the risk of blood clots passengers are more prone to after sitting in the same position for long periods of time. This is the perfect excuse to book a holiday, and munch on chocolate during the flight – bliss!

salmon


Life-saving food number 2: Salmon

According to research undertaken by Rush University Medical Centre, those who eat fish at least once a week are less likely to experience Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who rarely incorporate fish into their diet. Dr Martha Morris of St Luke’s Medical Centre in Chicago conducted a study on 815 people between the ages of 65 and 94, documenting their brain health for seven years.

Luckily, such a time-consuming task revealed some fantastic results: Morris discovered that regular fish-eaters had a massive seventy per cent less chance of contracting Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not eat fish. Scientists have discovered that the DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in fish is the key to combating Alzheimer’s: DHA slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, making this the key ingredient for a healthy brain and, ultimately, a healthier lifestyle too.

Story continues below the slideshow:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Vegetable oil

    Linoleic acid is essential to keep your heart healthy, so try to consume between two to four teaspoons a day.

  • Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are great for brightening the skin but more importantly, the <a href="http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-25/diet/29773716_1_olive-oil-bad-cholesterol-healthy-heart" target="_blank">food also acts as a blood purifier.</a> It also contains lots of Vitamin K, which helps to prevent hemorrhages.

  • Oats

    Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan, which helps bring down cholesterol levels, particularly LDL which is the worst type of cholesterol.

  • Avocado

    It's packed with the 'good' type of fat - monounsaturated - and lowers LDL levels (bad cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease) while raising HDL cholesterol levels in your body. HDL cholesterol prevents your arteries from getting clogged.

  • Soy

    Edamame is the yummiest form of soy, and it's a great source of protein to replace red meat which can be high in bad cholesterol and saturated fat.

  • Salmon

    Omega 3-fatty acids are great for lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting and boosting your immunity. According to <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-3/HB00087" target="_blank">The Mayo Clinic</a>, each one to two servings a week can reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Blueberries

    All dark berries are good for the heart, but blueberries in particular can help widen arteries, <a href="http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/heart-and-cardiovascular/6-healthiest-berries-for-womens-hearts#3" target="_blank">which helps blood to flow smoothly, preventing blockages</a>.

  • Chickpeas

    Chickpeas (as well as kidney beans) are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids - a good alternative to fish for vegetarians.

  • Spinach

    Rich in iron, spinach isn't just a good heart disease preventative, it can also help your recovery if you do have a heart attack. It contains <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-493290/Spinach-helps-survive-heart-attack.html" target="_blank">a lot of nitrite</a> which aids recovery.

  • Almonds

    Like olive oil, almonds are a good source of healthy fat and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Scatter some over your yogurt in the morning - do not eat the whole bag!

Life-saving food number 3: Garlic
More and more evidence seems to be emerging that, of the many compounds found in garlic, 10 of them help to combat cancer.

Garlic also contains immune-enhancing compounds that help to break down the substances that cause cancer. For example, diallyl sulphide, a component of garlic, is known for its ability to break down carcinogens in the body, which may have led to cancer if they weren’t destroyed. According to research, people who consume garlic regularly face half the risk of stomach cancer than those who eat little or none.

cranberries

Life-saving food number 4: Cranberries
It would take a long time to list the many health benefits of cranberries but, in short, this tiny fruit is a life-saver (literally) when it comes to our health. Indeed, the little cranberry is full of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties, as well as being jam-packed full of phytonutrients. The more phytonutrients we have in our body, the greater the protection.

Moreover, the phytochemicals found in red fruits and berries help to combat cancer-causing molecules. In a study conducted by Cornell University, researchers tested cranberry extracts on human breast cancer cells and discovered that, over four hours, many of the same breast cancer cells had begun to die. So not only do they taste amazing, but these little red gems make a powerful addition to any diet.

coffee beans

Life-saving food number 5: The coffee bean
A study by the University of Scranton found that the flavonoids contained in coffee can prevent heart disease. The professor who led the experiment, Dr. Joe Vinson, says that “antioxidants are your army to protect you from the toxic free radicals, which come from breathing oxygen and eating sugar, that start chronic diseases”.

The antioxidants in coffee ward off life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It’s worth bearing in mind though, that caffeine raises your blood pressure, so if you’re drinking a large amount it’s best to opt for decaf, which offers the same amount of antioxidant properties as regular coffee. So let’s raise our warm mugs of coffee to health, happiness, and battling horrible diseases the tasty way. Here’s to a prosperous life!

MORE ON REALBUZZ.COM
5 health tricks women will love

5 health tricks men will love