16 Foods to Cure Common Illnesses

1. Banana

Cure for: Stress or anxiety
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 g 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. Raisins

Cure for: High blood pressure
Sixty raisins—about a handful—contain 1 g of fiber and 212 mg 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. Yogurt

Cure for: Constipation or gas
One and a half cups of live-culture yogurt (high in gut-friendly bacteria) pushes food more efficiently through the gastrointestinal tract, says a 2002 study in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. The beneficial bacteria also improve your gut's ability to digest beans and dairy lactose, which can cause gas, adds Kimball.

4. Apricots

Cure for: Preventing kidney stones
Eight dried apricot halves have 2 g of fiber, only 3 mg of sodium, and 325 mg 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, FL, and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

5. Can of Tuna

Cure for: A bad mood
A 3-ounce serving of canned white tuna has about 800 mg 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 g of carbs will give you a dose of mood-boosting serotonin.


6. Ginger Tea

Cure for: Nausea
Dozens of studies reveal that ginger (1/4 teaspoon of powdered, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of minced gingerroot, or a cup of ginger tea) can ease nausea from motion sickness and pregnancy, says Gerbstadt. Researchers are unsure which oils and compounds in ginger suppress nausea, but it's safe and has none of the side effects (dry mouth, drowsiness) of OTC meds.

7. Basil

Cure for: Tummy troubles
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.
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