Health boosting foods

1. Garlic

For hundreds of years, garlic has been used to treat a whole range of ailments, from impotence to stomach bugs.

But recent studies have found that garlic has more serious health benefits for the heart and cancer prevention.

Garlic contains two key compounds, a sulphur-rich amino acid called allicin and a protein-based enzyme called allinase.

The clove has no smell until you slice or crush it, allowing the compounds to mix and form a third compound, called allicin.

Allicin is a volatile compound that survives for just a few hours. It is a powerful natural antibiotic and also has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.

2. Walnuts

Your eyes can become dry and inflamed without enough omega-3 fats.

Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is highly effective in alleviating eye-related inflammation.


The little nutrient packed nuts are also good for blood sugar control and heart health.

3. Chocolate

We’re always searching for reasons to eat more chocolate and now scientists may have found one.

The sweet treat triggers anandamide – a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s known to make us feel happier.

Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids, potent antioxidants that may improve brain health, and boost blood flow to the brain.

4. Oats

Eating a small carb-based snack about an hour before bed raises levels of tryptophan, which helps your brain produce serotonin. This in turn triggers your body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps us sleep.

Oats are also good for blood sugar control and digestion.

5. Citrus

Citrus contains hesperidin, a plant chemical that improves blood flow to the heart, and vitamin C, a potent protector against stroke.


6. Spinach

Spinach is filled with iron and vitamin K, which promote bone health. it is also very low in calories so you can eat as much as you like.

7. Oily fish

Essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet.

The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish. These include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers.

They are good for healthy brain function as well as the heart, joints and general wellbeing.

Mediterranean diet can help combat depression

A Mediterranean diet could stave off depression as well as heart disease, suggests new research.

The study, involving more than 15,000 people, shows a diet loaded with fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts and olive oil, with low levels of processed meats, could prevent the onset of depression.

Researchers, whose findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine, looked at the impact of three major diets on mental health: the Pro-vegetarian Dietry Pattern; the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 and the Mediterranean diet.

Meat, sweets and other sources of animal fats and trans and saturated fatty acids scored low, while nuts, fruits, veg and other sources of omega-4 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, scored highly.

Ten years alter, the participants were asked to complete another survey on their diets.

A total of 1,550 participants reported a clinical diagnosis of depression or had used antidepressant drugs since the study began.

The Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 was found to be the associated with the greatest reduction of the risk of depression, but most of its effect could be associated with the major elements of the Mediterranean Diet.

So scientists say common nutrients and food items such as omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and moderate alcohol intake present in both patterns could be responsible for cutting the risk of depression.

Author Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria explained the thinking behind the study.

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet

He said: ‘We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds.

‘These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health.

‘The protective role is ascribed to the foods’ nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables, all sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, could reduce the risk of depression.’

Dr Sanchez-Villegas added: ‘A threshold effect may exist.

‘The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet.

‘Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression.

‘However, we saw no extra benefit when participants showed high or very high adherence to the diets.

‘So, once the threshold is achieved, the reduced risk plateaus even if participants were more strict with their diets and eating more healthily.

‘This dose-response pattern is compatible with the hypothesis that sub-optimal intake of some nutrients, mainly located in low adherence levels, may represent a risk factor for future depression.’