3 Foods With Surprising Health Benefits

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 25, 2016
3 Foods With Surprising Health Benefits
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In addition to regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet is the most effective way to maintain your mental and physical well-being. While foods like bananas and spinach are known for their health benefits, there are some nutritious products that aren't as famous for their positive effects on people's well-being. Add these three foods with surprising health benefits to your diet.

1. Bell peppers
You're probably used to adding bell peppers to your meals for a tasty kick of flavor. Did you know that in addition to their mouthwatering taste, they also contain antioxidants and vitamin C to help fight off viruses? A 2013 study by researchers at the University of Washington also found that eating bell peppers 2-4 times per week can reduce your chances of developing Parkinson's disease by approximately 30 percent. Introduce more peppers to your daily diet with creative meals like these rice and turkey-stuffed peppers. 

Ingredients

  • 4 green bell peppers, tops removed, seeded
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the green bell peppers in aluminum foil and put in a baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from heat. Over medium heat, cook the turkey until brown. Set aside and heat oil in a skillet. Add the onions, zucchini, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms and spinach. Cook until tender and return turkey to the skillet. Mix in the tomato paste and tomatoes. Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Stuff the green peppers with skillet mixture and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

2. Dark chocolate
Don't automatically assume that all chocolate is bad for you, as dark chocolate has multiple health benefits despite its association with junk food. In moderation, dark chocolate - bars that contain at least 70 percent cocoa, as this means there's little sugar - can lower your risk of heart disease thanks to its high amount of antioxidants, according to Authority Nutrition. Research has also shown that it can help you avoid the metabolic effects of stress. Treat yourself and your friends to these delicious double-chocolate cupcakes for a warm treat this winter.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 oz. dark (70 percent cocoa) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spoon flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine the cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir using a whisk. Pour granulated sugar and butter into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Add egg substitute and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, starting and finishing with the flour mixture. Fold into chocolate and spoon batter into 12 lined muffin cups. Bake for 18 minutes, or until toothpick can be inserted and come out clean. Remove from pan, cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. 

3. Grapefruit
In addition to the high amounts of vitamins A and C it contains, grapefruit offers powerful antioxidants that can boost your metabolism. Food magazine suggested eating the super-fruit after workouts. It also makes a tasty breakfast food. Whip up a unique salad with this grapefruit and spinach recipe.

Ingredients for salad

  • 1 package (16 oz.) fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 large grapefruits, peeled and sectioned
  • 3 large oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 (6 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Ingredients for dressing

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp. grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 dash hot sauce

Directions

Wash the spinach and break into bite-size pieces. Arrange in a salad bowl. Top with orange and grapefruit sections and water chestnuts. Combine all of the dressing ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour over salad and let chill for 30 minutes.