I’m a holistic health nut at heart because I’ve witnessed the benefits firsthand of certain plant foods that can heal your body. I used to be a serious junk-food eater. Simultaneously, as I lived off boxed cereal, vending machine snacks and fast food during high school, I was always sick, low in energy or always struggling with my weight. When I started eating healthier, oddly enough, I didn’t get sick anymore, had loads of energy, and my weight dropped dramatically and stabilized itself. As I got older, I started learning about the properties different foods have and their effects on the body. I loved learning so much, I even went to school and got my degree in Nutrition. Since then, I’ve learned specifically how powerful certain plant foods that heal your body are, and how they’ve been used in ancient cultures as alternative medicine. Did I mention these foods are also delicious?
If you’ve ever had low energy, bad skin, or have a hard time learning to love green foods, then let me introduce you to spinach, which is one of the best plant foods that can heal your body. Spinach is one of the best plant sources of iron, which is easily absorbed by your body. Iron is important for healthy oxygen production and red blood cell formation, which provides energy to your cells, and helps prevent and treat anemia. Spinach is also so easy to use and so tasty. It has a mild, sweet taste that can be used in salads, omelets, smoothies and you can’t even taste it! Spinach is also tasty tossed with some steamed veggies which softens it up a bit, or sautéed with some onions and mushrooms for a healthy side dish. Spinach also contains Vitamin E and Vitamin A, which give you beautiful skin. It even contains 5 grams of protein per cup for only 20 calories, making it great for your metabolism.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are some of the most healing foods of all plant foods and they are also darn tasty! Sweet potatoes are excellent for diabetics, and for those watching their weight. Sweet potatoes actually lower your insulin level and halt your appetite, but they do more than just aid your waistline. They lower your blood pressure and provide you with B vitamins and magnesium for extra energy. They are also rich in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that promotes serotonin production, which naturally prevents depression. They also contain beta-carotene in the form of Vitamin A, which treats acne, treats inflammation and can be a great vitamin to enhance your skin tone naturally. No self- tanner needed!
3. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are excellent food for everyone, but especially females. Flax seeds help prevent and treat mild depression with their Omega 3 fatty acid content, they aid in heart health and lower cholesterol through their high fiber content, bring insulin levels down since they stabilize your blood sugar, and they treat PMS by elevating hormones in the body that lead to a bad mood and low estrogen levels. Flax seeds are also great for treating dry skin due to their fatty acid content. Just be sure to grind them before you eat them, or buy them cold-milled and pre-ground, so all their delightful nutritional properties can be enjoyed. Store them in the fridge to prevent them from going rancid as well. I like using them in smoothies, over oatmeal or yogurt, but they make a great addition to just about anything. The best part about flax seeds is they have a sweet, nutty taste that you will quickly learn to love too!
I know onions don’t smell the greatest, but they are incredibly healing. They have been linked to curing cancer, but besides that, they are great to fight inflammation, prevent fatigue, reduce water weight, contain B vitamins, potassium, Vitamin C, and tons of fiber. Onions are part of the allium family that is also great for treating yeast or fungal infections, preventing or treating a cold, getting rid of mucus in the body, and for healing a sore throat. Get in on the benefits and add them in anywhere you like. Onions are available in various colors, all of which carry around the same amount of benefits, but I like the red ones to make my foods a bit brighter! Onions are also one of the safest foods to eat in conventional form due to their thick skin that keeps yucky pesticides away.
Mushrooms, specifically shitake mushrooms, are one of the best immunity-boosting foods you can eat. They contain your entire daily requirements of Vitamin D, which is important for preventing or treating mild depression, colon cancer and heart health. They also contain fiber to lower your blood sugar and keep you full longer. They are rich in antioxidants that have been linked to treating cancer, and mushrooms can also keep the cold away or put it at bay. I love making a soup with mushrooms, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes and tons of spinach for a delightful healing soup that I can enjoy whether I feel a cold coming on or not. You can also grill them for a nice replacement for meat if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
Just like onions, garlic is part of the allium family of plants and is such a powerful healing food. I find garlic extremely helpful in taking away a sugar craving or helping with low energy levels. I chop an entire raw clove and put it on a salad and my energy is sustained and my joint pain after exercise seems to disappear. Plus, garlic reduces intestinal infections if you’re sick, which makes them great for killing and preventing bacteria overgrowth. Garlic is also great for your liver, as it helps the liver detoxify efficiently and faster than most any food. I know it may be stinky, but garlic just makes anything taste good too. Garlic has often been used to treat mild depression since it elevates your mood directly after eating it. Skip the pizza and lasagna loaded with sodium and high-fat dairy, and instead make your own healthy dish at home with garlic. Garlic also inexpensive, and only costs about 30 cents per head, which will yield about 15-20 cloves.
Carrots are a wonderful food with similar benefits to sweet potatoes. Carrots are rich in Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, which treats and cures acne, dry skin, poor skin tone and it aids in immunity. Carrots are also rich in natural fiber, which lowers your blood sugar and aids digestion, rich in Vitamin C which is great for your immunity and skin, and they offer a sweet taste that will conquer your sugar cravings. Carrots even offer the mineral magnesium, so they elevate your mood, give you sustained energy, and can treat nervous system disorders.
8. Coconut Oil
I am a huge advocate of coconut oil for many reasons. Coconut oil is possibly one of the most healing foods of all plant foods, if not the best from my experience. First, let’s start with the fat because I know you’re wondering. Coconut oil contains mostly saturated fats, but they are unique fats, so no worries. The saturated fats in coconut oil are not stored as fat. They are used by your liver to filter out toxins and available for immediate energy for your metabolism. Coconut oil also lowers your blood sugar and halts your appetite. I love coconut oil for treating bacteria and yeast conditions since I come from a history of eating lots of sugar and used to suffer yeast imbalance. Coconut oil is an anti-bacterial agent and known to get rid of all harmful forms of bacteria and yeast in the body. It is also excellent for the thyroid and has even been used to treat epilepsy. In raw form, coconut oil retains enzymes and natural probiotics that keep healthy bacteria levels in your body at all times. Coconut oil has even cured my acne within two weeks of implementing it into my routine. I rub it all over my face at night, consume 1 tbsp. a day, and no longer even use an acne cream or face moisturizer. Coconut oil is also rich in Vitamin E, which makes it a great wrinkle-fighter, so I use it as eye cream too. Did I mention it also makes your smoothies delish? You can also cook with coconut oil since its fats are completely stable in heat. Coconut’s fats have also been linked to a lower waistline and lower cholesterol levels.
Oh how I love lemons! Lemons are so incredibly wonderful girls. Lemons are a top source of Vitamin C, contain no sugar to send your insulin soaring, and they are wonderful for your digestive system since they are rich in enzymes. The Vitamin C in lemon juice also helps your body absorb iron, so pair some lemon juice with spinach in a salad for a win-win combo. Lemons’ acidic content actually alkalize your blood, and have been linked to cancer prevention. Keep a bowl in your fridge or on you counter at all times. Use them in everything, but just use them! These sour fruits are one of the best healing plant foods of all plant foods, and they are incredibly cheap!
10. Raw Cacao
Raw cacao, or raw chocolate, is possibly one of the greatest healing plant foods of all time throughout all cultures. Cacao is not only known as the “food of the gods,” but is also higher in antioxidants than any other food. Raw cacao is rich in magnesium for heart health and nervous system functions, which reduces anxiety, fatigue and can send a calming sensation throughout the whole body. Raw cacao also supports the hormones, metabolism and can increase skin health by increasing blood flow and helping arterial functions. Raw cacao has been used in ancient cultures to treat depression, fatigue and even anemia because cacao is incredibly high in iron. The healthy fats in cacao are much like coconut oil, and can significantly reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Cacao is also a natural appetite suppressant, making it excellent for cravings. Raw chocolate, unlike commercial chocolate, is also naturally sugar-free, yet yields four times the fiber of the processed stuff. Girls, get eat your dark chocolate fix without guilt, but enjoy it raw for the best benefits.
With all of the beautifying, gorgeous and delicious plants out there, there’s no reason to only eat them for your waistline. Plant foods increase your heart health, create a healthy mood, and are overall rockstars for your health. What are your favorite plant foods to eat?