12 Foods to Help Cure Common Illnesses
1. BananasCure for: Stress or anxiety 1 of 13
Next time your buttons get pushed, reach for a banana, says Molly Kimball, RD, a certified specialist in sports dietetics with Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. With only 105 calories and 14 grams of sugar, a medium banana fills you up, provides a mild blood sugar boost, and has 30 percent of the day's vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce mellowing serotonin, getting you through a crisis peacefully.
2. RaisinsCure for: High blood pressure 2 of 13
Sixty raisins—about a handful—contain one gram of fiber and 212 milligrams of potassium, both recommended in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Numerous studies show that polyphenols in grape-derived foods such as raisins, wine, and juice are effective in maintaining cardiovascular health, including bringing down blood pressure.
3. ApricotsCure for: Preventing kidney stones 3 of 13
Eight dried apricot halves have two grams of fiber, only three milligrams of sodium, and 325 milligrams of potassium—all of which help keep minerals from accumulating in urine and forming calcium oxalate stones, the most common type of kidney stones, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, an integrative nutritionist in private practice in Sarasota, Florida, and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
4. Can of TunaCure for: A bad mood 4 of 13
A three-ounce serving of canned white tuna has about 800 milligrams of omega-3s, which research suggests may treat the kind of blues that leave you feeling low or anxious. The fatty acids in fish have been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association as an effective part of depression treatment, says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness. For a seafood-free way to get happy, nosh on a small bagel. The 37 grams of carbs will give you a dose of mood-boosting serotonin.
5. BasilCure for: Tummy troubles 5 of 13
Studies suggest that eugenol, a compound in basil, can keep your gut safe from pain, nausea, cramping, or diarrhea by killing off bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria. Eugenol even has an antispasmodic property that can keep cramps at bay, says Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, PhD, chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University. Use minced fresh basil in sauces or salads.
6. PearsCure for: High cholesterol 6 of 13
One medium pear has five grams of dietary fiber, much of it in the form of pectin, which helps flush out bad cholesterol, a risk factor in heart disease.
7. Buckwheat HoneyCure for: Coughing 7 of 13
In a study at Pennsylvania State University, two teaspoons of thick, dark brown honey were more effective than over-the-counter cough medicines at limiting the severity and frequency of a cough in children. Honey's antioxidants and antimicrobial properties may soothe inflamed throat tissues, says John La Puma, MD, director of Chef Clinic in California.
8. CabbageCure for: Ulcers 8 of 13
A 2002 study at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that sulforaphane, a powerful compound in cabbage, clobbers H. pylori (the bacteria that causes gastric and peptic ulcers) before it can get to your gut, and may even help inhibit the growth of gastric tumors. With only 34 calories a cup, cabbage provides three grams of fiber and 75 percent of the day's vitamin C.
9. Turkey9 of 13
A three-ounce serving of turkey has nearly all the tryptophan (an essential amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin, hormones that regulate sleep) you need in a day, says La Puma. Studies show that people who suffer from insomnia are deficient in tryptophan.
10. FigsCure for: Hemorrhoids 10 of 13
The three grams of fiber in four dried figs helps create soft, regular stools that will keep hemorrhoids from returning, says Somer. Figs also provide about five percent of daily potassium and 10 percent of manganese.
11. GarlicCure for: Yeast infection 11 of 13
Garlic contains essential oils that can inhibit the growth of the Candida albicans fungus, the culprit in the pain, itch, and vaginal discharge of yeast infections, says Gerbstadt. Recent studies suggest that thyme, cloves, and even the essential oils from oranges are also effective fungicides, she adds. Include garlic in sauces, salad dressings, and marinades.
12. PotatoesCure for: Headache 12 of 13
The 37 grams of carbs in a medium potato can ease a tension headache by upping serotonin levels, as long as you keep the fat and protein below two grams.