7. Flax Seeds (For a healthy heart)
Flax seed, traditionally known as linseed, is a tiny seed packed with a variety of components that can play an important part in your diet. It is inexpensive and has a pleasant, nutty flavor. Flax is available in a number of forms, including flaxseed oil, flax-meal, which can be incorporated in baking recipes and smoothies.
Flax is a rich source of soluble fiber. Studies conducted at the University of Toronto showed that 25 to 50 grams of flax per day helped lower blood cholesterol significantly. 50% of flaxseed oil is made of alpha-linolenic acid, a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid.
8. Dark Chocolate (Get healthy by enjoying some chocolate)
Chocolate is made from beans found in the pods of the cocoa tree, an evergreen that originated in the river valleys of South America. Although cocoa powder is low in calories and fat, most chocolates contain refined sugars and milk.
Cocoa contains antioxidants, but they may be destroyed during processing. Dark chocolate, though, has less sugar and milk added. A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate will usually contain about 11 grams of fiber, providing nearly half of your daily requirement.
When choosing a bar of chocolate, look out for bars with at least 60% cocoa. Dark chocolate (chocolate with a higher amount of cocoa) has been shown to lower blood pressure. In a study by researchers at the University of Cologne, the number of dark chocolate eaters diagnosed with hypertension dropped from 86% to 68% after 4 months. Dark chocolate also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure.