Health Benefits

Health Benefits

A special feature of Cook & Crumbs, this list will continue to grow as each recipe is listed.

Almond Milk: Full of vitamin E and calcium, almond milk makes a great low-sugar, low-calorie base (that is, if you buy unsweetened), or is yummy on its own. It’s also often fortified with vitamin D. An even healthier option is to make your own!

Apple: Providing both soluble and insoluble fiber, an apple a day really can improve your overall health. Eating apples reduces your risk of many diseases, from strokes and heart disease to high blood pressure and diabetes. Their pectins are even more powerful when cooked, think: homemade applesauce.

Apple Cider Vinegar: This unique vinegar helps regulate your blood sugar, so if you’re eating carbohydrates it will help lower the glucose spike. It’s touted as a tonic for everything from skin health to weight loss. Just please don’t drink it straight (as some people do, like a shot) as it is highly acidic.

Balsamic Vinegar: With its main component being acetic acid, balsamic vinegar may just become part of your skincare routine for clear, smooth skin. It may also reduce high blood pressure. When eaten with a meal, it’s been proven to lower blood sugar spikes. 

Bananas: This yummy fruit is known for its potassium content, but they’re also quite high in copper, magnesium and even vitamin C (if you’re beginning to suspect this smoothie is rich in vitamin C, you’re right!). The greener they are, the more resistant starch they carry, which is a fiber-rich prebiotic to feed the good guys in your gut. 

Beans: Whether you lean vegan, flexitarian or Mediterranean, beans can be a central part of your daily diet. They’re filling—loaded with fiber and protein—and high in minerals like iron and manganese and B vitamins like B9 (folate). Eating beans has been repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of all metabolic disease.

Black Pepper: A unique compound in black pepper called piperine not only reduces free radicals but is also anti-inflammatory. Black pepper can make other healing spices like turmeric and even nutrients like iron more effective, too.

Blueberries: There are so many health benefits of blueberries, they are considered a superfood. Anthocyanins are the rockstar healers in blueberries, working on everything from cognitive decline to heart disease and diabetes. Blueberries also slow down aging by reducing inflammation and combating free radicals.

Bran: Not many foods are loaded with soluble and insoluble fiber as bran. This outer shell of a wheat grain feeds your healthy gut bacteria, and can be a big help for those who struggle with constipation. With vitamins and minerals to boot, bran is a great choice from breakfast to baking.

Broccoli: Little is it known that a serving of broccoli contains more vitamin C than an orange! But that’s not all: broccoli also boasts ample vitamin K and vitamin B9 (folate). Being a cruciferous veggie, it’s especially good at detoxifying the liver. 

Butternut Squash: First and foremost, this dense and yummy fruit (you read that right) is super high in fiber. It’s also high in minerals and vitamins, providing over 400% of your daily vitamin A needs in one cup. This squash’s nutritional profile is most famous for preventing eye disease and certain cancers.

Cabbage: This hearty cruciferous vegetable is naturally detoxing, helping to move things along efficiently in your liver. They are high in flavanoids called anthocyanins, antioxidants that likely reduce blood pressure and heart disease, while also protecting your brain.

Cardamom: An unsung hero of healthy spices, this seasoning has a very unique taste and only a small pinch is required. It may reduce risk of cancer, high blood pressure and inflammation in the body. It has been used to heal ulcers as it’s also very helpful with all matters related to digestion. 

Carrots: Everyone’s heard that carrots are good for your eyes, but did you also know they have antioxidants that can prevent cancer? Lycopene is one such antioxidant, as is beta-carotene. Carrots are also super hydrating with their high water volume, and keep you full on fiber which feeds the good guys in your gut. 

Cayenne: This powerful spicy pepper provides vitamins even in it’s powdered form. Capsaicin—the compound that brings the spicy—is used medicinally to treat pain. It’s also been shown to reduce heart disease. Those who eat spicy tend to live longer than those milder-mouthed around us (me, it’s okay.)

Celery: A humble celery stick may seem like mostly water, but it’s actually full of antioxidants that may prevent disease and slow down aging. Celery is alkalinizing and anti-inflammatory, but it’s not necessarily the miracle-worker the trend of celery juice made it out to be. It’s good for you, but it’s blown up recently into a promise that it might not be able to keep (#celeryjuice). It can’t heal EVERYTHING. But it’s still a great food to include in your diet. 

Chia Seeds: Nary a flaxseed nor a hempseed can stand up to the nutritional boom of the mighty chia. These seeds carry loads of naturally-occuring omega-3s, plus fat and fiber to round out any meal and provide a great barrier against blood sugar spikes. 

Chicken: High in protein and low in fat, chicken is a great choice when you’re really craving meat. Of all the animal meats, chicken is the most environmentally-friendly with the lowest carbon footprint. Try to buy organic or at least antibiotic-free. Local is even better. 

Chickpeas: Full of fiber and protein, these golden legumes keep you satisfied while keeping your gut microbiome happy. Chickpeas boast a great nutritional profile, including minerals like manganese, copper, zinc and an impressive amount of iron. They are also high in vitamin B6 and B9, which are especially important in pregnancy and menstruation. 

Chocolate: We’ve all heard chocolate is good for you, but it really depends on what kind of chocolate you eat. Processed milk chocolate candy bars full of refined sugar and syrups are a different story entirely from bittersweet dark chocolate, especially in the higher percentages of cocoa. Dark chocolate in its pure form delivers iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and even fiber. 

Cilantro: Ever hear that you should eat cilantro with fish? That’s because it’s one of the few foods that has been suggested to naturally bind with heavy metals like mercury, helping to detox it from your body. If that’s not enough for you, cilantro is not only packed with vitamins, but has been linked in multiple studies to protecting brain health.

Cinnamon: Bursting with antioxidants, cinnamon has been used medicinally for centuries. It lowers blood sugar, and since it’s usually consumed with something sweet, that’s a good thing! Cinnamon also lowers LDL and total cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and is naturally antimicrobial—able to fight fungus and bad bacteria. 

Coconut milk: Half coconut flesh, half water, coconut milk is a luxurious canned product to enhance soups, stews, smoothies and desserts. High in medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) fat, coconut milk is filling, and full of minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese and copper.

Coconut Oil: One of the safest oils in the kitchen, coconut oil can be heated to high temperatures without its structure changing and becoming toxic (like olive oil). It has a high concentration of medium-chain triglycerides, popularly referred to as “MCTs.” MCTs are antimicrobial, can reduce appetite, and make your skin look great (or your pet’s skin).

Cucumber: super hydrating, this water-filled veggie is packed with minerals and antioxidants. It’s been shown to lower blood sugar, and is fiber-rich and filling. It’s also got a great percentage of vitamin-K—and there’s even more in the skin, which is why I prefer English style and organic (less need to peel).

Cumin: This flavorful spice, named for its medical “cuminaldehyde,” regulates blood sugar, stimulates digestion and improves LDL (the baddie) cholesterol. Cumin has also been shown to protect against cancer and bone loss. Bonus: It’s antibacterial.

Curry powder: Most curry powders include some kind of mixture of turmeric, coriander, mustard, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne. All of these spices are so rich in their own nutrients that only one thing can be said for sure: curry powder is very good for you.

Dates: High in copper, iron and vitamin B6 (the mood stabilizing vitamin), dates are a delicious natural sweetener and a hefty source of fiber. Dates also have one of the highest levels of antioxidants compared to other dried fruit. As anyone who has been pregnant knows, dates are commonly suggested to induce natural and easy labor, and are also recommended for postpartum healing. 

Dill: This tiny, flavorful herb carries a hefty load of vitamins and minerals for its size, particularly manganese, an essential mineral for your brain. Dill has been studied and is suspected to be anti-cancerous and helpful for diabetics by lowering blood sugar.

Dried Cranberries: Much like their fresh counterparts, dried cranberries provide your recommended dose of vitamin C in one serving! They are known for their bladder-healing capabilities, as anyone who has had a UTI can attest to. Don’t forget, they also provide dietary fiber. 

Flaxseed: One of the best plant-based sources for omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are excellent (and easy) to get into your diet. Commonly used to relieve constipation, flaxseeds boast ample soluble and insoluble fiber. They have also been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).

Flexitarian: A flexitarian is a person or diet focusing on plant-based, whole foods with the occasional inclusion of fish, chicken or meat. Here at Cook & Cooks, the flexitarian way of eating is upheld and applauded. We can’t all be vegan all the time, and the flexible flexitarian perspective acknowledges this, while still promoting eating mostly plants.

Garlic: You can smell the benefits on this one! Societies around the globe have been using garlic medicinally for ages, and for good reason. Much like the onion, it lowers blood pressure, is packed with nutrients, and some studies show it can even prevent and lessen symptoms of the common cold!

Ginger: A superstar at moving along digestion, ginger helps with nausea, constipation, heartburn and emptying the stomach in general. It is studied and used medicinally for its loads of health benefits from being very anti-inflammatory to reducing blood sugar, heart disease and cancer risk.

Goat cheese: This flavorful, creamy cheese, also known as chèvre, is a healthy, whole food source of fat and protein. It’s easier for most people to digest compared to cow’s milk. And it comes with some minerals, too–namely calcium, phosphorus and copper. 

Hazelnuts: These round little gems are a great source of healthy fats. They are also high in copper, manganese, vitamin E and thiamin. It has been proven again and again that those who regularly eat nuts experience a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. 

Kale: Is there a trendier vegetable than kale? While this leafy green may have been hyped up into the idea of a be-all, end-all superfood, it is indeed a very good idea to include dark leafy greens in your daily diet. Kale is high in vitamins, particularly vitamin K, plus minerals like manganese, calcium and iron. 

Lemon juice: Though it tastes acidic on your tongue, lemon juice actually helps your body be more alkaline. Lemons are packed with vitamin C, and a particular citrus fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol (though you might need your juice pulpy to get that last benefit). 

Lime: Much like their sister lemons, limes are high in vitamin C, which can protect you from sickness and inflammation. Though acidic to your tastebuds, these tart fruits are alkaline in your body. Lime consumption also helps prevent kidney stones and can potentionally reduce your risk of stroke.

Maple Syrup: Surprisingly high in calcium, potassium and magnesium, maple syrup also has antioxidants to keep you looking and feeling young. Though it is comparable in sugar to other sweeteners, being in its natural form it provides way more nutrition than processed refined sugar. 

Molasses: There are so many nutrients packed into molasses in quantities that are hard to find elsewhere: iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It even has vitamin B6, which is great for mood-balancing, especially if you’re a woman who faces a monthly struggle with PMS. Experts recommend not over-doing molasses, however, due to its levels of acrylamide, a naturally-occurring chemical that is also found in processed cereals and french fries.

Mustard: This popular condiment has gotten lots of attention for its surprisingly high health benefits. Mustard has unique glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. These compounds are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal. They’ve even been shown to protect against cancer.

Oats: these small grains deliver big. They are packed with soluble fiber to keep you full and regular by promoting healthy gut bacteria, and are high in manganese, copper, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Unlike most other grains, they even provide your breakfast with protein. 

Olive Oil: One of the best oils to have in your kitchen, olive oil is best served at room temperature (or cold) as high heat changes its structure. It’s packed with monounsaturated fat, which is anti-inflammatory and might even reduce rates of cancer. Olive oil has also been shown to prevent strokes and heart disease. 

Olives: Whether green or black, olives are the base for much lauded olive oil. In fact, olives are the real rockstar, full of healthy monounsaturated fat. They’re high in vitamin E—great for your skin—and pack a mean punch of fiber despite their small size.

Onion: Not to be outshined by more exotic ingredients, the common yellow onion is a wonderful source of prebiotic fiber to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. It’s also been shown to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Oranges: Natural compounds in citrus fruit known as liminoids have been proven to protect against a variety of cancers. Known for their immune boosting vitamin C content, oranges are also high in flavonoids that lower inflammation and blood pressure. 

Oregano: Widely used for its medicinal properties, oregano is antibacterial and fights the bad bacteria in your body. It’s also full of antioxidants like vitamin K, and has even been shown to reduce cancer cell growth.

Parsley: This flavorful little plant might be the most detoxifying of all the herbs. With really high levels of vitamins A, C and K and is an important ally for digestive and urinary tract health. It is so cleansing, it’s commonly used to stimulate menstruation (and it works!).

Peanut Butter: A great way to get in your healthy fat, peanut butter is what turns a snack into a filling meal. The fat and protein help protect your blood sugar from spiking when you eat fruit. Peanut butter offers a healthy dose of B vitamins to keep your skin, hair and nails looking beautiful (and your mood nice, as b6 is a go-to hormone-balancer). 

Potatoes: The darker your potato, the more nutrients they have. Still, plain old Yukons and Russets have plenty of health benefits, from fiber that keeps you full to a solid dose of vitamin C. These starchy vegetables are an excellent carb choice to round out your meal.

Quinoa: An interestingly different grain, quinoa actually counts as a protein. It’s filling, and also loaded with minerals like iron, zinc, manganese and magnesium. Quinoa also contains anti-inflammatory compounds, quercetin and kaempferol, which slow down aging and keep you feeling and looking young and energized.

Raisins: These sweet dried grapes are a healthy source of fiber, iron and calcium, making them excellent for your digestion, your blood and your bones. Too much of a good thing will spike your blood sugar, but in moderate portions this common dried fruit makes a wonderful natural sweetener.

Red Bell Pepper: A great source of fiber, these colorful fruits are often mistaken for vegetables. They’re high in antioxidants to keep you looking and feeling young, covering all ABC vitamins plus vitamin E. They also have a special dose of capsanthin, the potent antioxidant that makes them red.  

Scallions: Also known as green onions or spring onions, scallions are not only a delicious flavor to add to any dish. They are high in vitamin A, C and K and, like all onions, contain compounds that are antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. They even have minerals like iron, calcium and copper.

Spring mix: Different brands of spring mix may vary slightly in the types of lettuce they include, but most are a mix of tender baby lettuce like red and green romaine, spinach, red and green oak leaf, chard, and sometimes even arugula and radicchio. The health benefit of eating spring mix is that all of these lettuces contain antioxidant vitamins and fiber to clean your insides. Spring mix? Think: spring cleaning. 

Strawberries: Polyphenols from the bursting redness of these berries are strong antioxidants which fight against age and disease. Strawberries are anti-inflammatory, low in sugar and have more vitamin C than oranges! 

Sweet Potato: The yummiest potato of all, sweet potato is not only sweet, but also packed with eye-helping beta-carotene from all that bright orange inside. It also contains half the daily requirement for vitamin C, plus tons of manganese, copper, and vitamin b6 (feeling moody, anyone?). It feeds your gut with soluble fiber, and simply tastes good alongside almost anything.

Tahini: With a healthy dose of thiamine, phosphorus and manganese, tahini is a great way to get in nutrients. It also has 10% of your daily B6, a great mood-stabilizing vitamin, particularly for PMS. It’s got tons of plant-based fat, fiber and protein, and what more could you really ask for?

Tofu: The heart-healthy soybean curd has been applauded for its health benefits for centuries. Tofu is high in protein, making it a perfect meat substitute, and high in calcium, making it a perfect dairy substitute. It’s dense with minerals and vitamins, super filling and safe to be eaten daily. 

Tomatoes: Cooked and raw tomatoes have different health benefits, but both are important. Raw tomatoes are high in vitamin C, while cooking tomatoes releases some of their very strong antioxidants. Lycopene is one of them, and it’s been shown to drastically increase as tomatoes cook. It’s also been shown to decrease rates of cancer. 

Vanilla: The yummy liquid flavoring derived from the vanilla plant delivers a universally beloved sweetness with no spike in blood sugar. It’s potentially anti-bacterial, has antioxidants that promote brain health, and could even be a treatment for depression. 

Vegetable broth: All the hype is about bone broth these days, but veggie broth packs a powerful nutritional punch. Vegetables provide plenty of amino acids, which studies show are what you need to make collagen. (Not eating collagen, which doesn’t actually translate to more internal collagen production.) Loaded with vitamins and minerals, vegetable broth makes any dish more detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and generally healthy.

Whole Wheat: Unlike its white counterpart, whole wheat is considered a complex carbohydrate. It’s high in fiber, takes longer for the body to digest, and causes less of a blood sugar spike. Whole wheat provides vitamins and minerals like copper, manganese and phosphorus.

Yogurt: Made from fermented milk of any kind, yogurt boasts tons of calcium and probiotics. It’s a healthy base to many dishes, or an easy, nutrient-rich snack. Whether made from dairy, coconut or cashews, yogurt is one of the few foods that houses live active cultures.

Zucchini: The green courgette (French) has not just a surprising amount of vitamin A, but also boasts a healthy dose of B vitamins, minerals and special antioxidants. It’s been shown to lower blood sugar. And with all that soluble fiber, it’s also a healthy boost for your heart.