Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a potent antioxidant that can help combat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and infertility in men by boosting sperm count. It also guards against skin-ageing and has been shown to have protective effects against the sun when eaten, says Susie Rucker, a nutritional therapist at Body With Soul.
How to use it: The concentration of lycopene increases with cooking, so try to use it in stews, casseroles and sauces. Or simply enjoy it raw in sandwiches, over salad, or alone.
This aromatic spice can help control blood sugar, and is therefore useful to people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes, says Susie. It also contains volatile oils that make it highly antiseptic, and is regarded as a calmative and a digestive aid.
How to use it: Cinnamon can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Susie recommends adding it to casseroles and stews, sprinkling it over cooked apples or yogurt, or steeping it in hot water with other spices to make a warming spiced chai tea.
It’s a great source of B vitamins, phosphorous for bone health, and magnesium for nerve and muscle health, says Susie. It is also packed with lauric acid, which lowers bad cholesterol while boosting good cholesterol. Coconut milk does contain saturated fat, but it’s the healthy kind. A small amount of this is vital, as it keeps you full for longer and encourages fat-burning, which helps you lose weight.
How to use it Fresh or canned, coconut milk can be used to enrich curries and hot or cold desserts.
This bright green herb is an excellent source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It also protects against cancer, says Susie. It contains volatile oils that have been shown to reduce tumour formation, plus, it neutralises potential carcinogens by activating glutathione, the body’s most potent antioxidant. And it’s rich in vitamin C, which has anti-age and immunity-boosting properties.
How to use it Chop it into salads, or chew a few sprigs after a meal to aid digestion. Parsley also lends flavour to green juices, sauces and casseroles.