Salmon with cabbge

Disease-fighting super foods

It's easy to fall into the habit of eating easily prepared, pre-packaged food. You're busy. We understand. Start small, and incorporate some of these disease-fighting super foods into your diet a little at a time. With a loaf of whole grain bread here and a handful of nuts there, you'll be on your way to a happier and healthier year.

Cabbage

Research shows that eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale lowers the risk of colorectal, lung and stomach cancers. Lawrence Kushi, Sc.D., associate director for epidemiology at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, explains that these cancer-fighting vegetables activate the body's detoxifying enzymes.

Studies conducted at Michigan State University in East Lansing further show the cancer-preventing powers of cabbage. Research participants who ate raw or lightly cooked cabbage and sauerkraut more than three times a week were 72 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate 1.5 or fewer servings.

Napa cabbage recipes: crunchy and savory >>

Grapes

Grapes deliver health benefits to women, whether they're plucked off the vine and eaten fresh or enjoyed by the glass in grape juice or wine. The skin of the grape is rich in antioxidants that prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce "bad" cholesterol and prevent blood clots. We'll drink to that -- in moderation, of course.

Alcohol and your heart: What you should know >>

Nuts

Get nutty! A 2010 study led by Joan Sabaté, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Loma Linda University in California found that eating a variety of nuts on a daily basis resulted in improved blood cholesterol levels and a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.

Participants in the study ate an average of 2.4 ounces of nuts each day, and saw an average 5.1 percent reduction in total cholesterol concentration, a 7.4 percent reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol levels and an 8.3 percent reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels. Researchers recommend keeping daily consumption to three ounces or less to reap the benefits without loading up on calories.

Salmon

Studies show that eating one or two servings per week of salmon can cut your risk of dying from a heart attack by a third or more. Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body, improving the health of your blood vessels and thus, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Salmon is also said to promote a glowing complexion, thanks to its abundance of healthy fats that nourish the skin.

Recipes high in healthy in healthy fats >>

Whole grains

When the American Society for Nutrition brought together researchers to review the health benefits associated with whole grains, they concluded that whole grains play a key role in lowering the risk of diseases including coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, and that they also also contribute to the management of healthy body weight and overall gastrointestinal health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, whole grains provide fiber and other nutrients that contribute toward heart health and regulation of blood pressure. Switching from refined grains to whole grains, which contain the grain's endosperm, germ and bran, is an easy way to up your intake of these important heart helpers.

Watch: Heart healthy recipes

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. Here are some easy (and mouthwatering) recipes using foods that help to prevent heart disease.

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