Power Up with Plants to Protect Against Disease Risk

McKenzie Jones | July 22, 2022

Eat more plants. This advice is everywhere, and for good reason. Research has shown time and time again that a diet rich in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help to ease the occurrence of chronic inflammation in the body.

The scientific community widely accepts chronic inflammation as a contributing factor to the development of a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease. Adding more plant-based foods into the diet is a simple way to reduce one’s risk.

While eating a wide array of fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods is always recommended, there are 4 foods that we particularly appreciate for their anti-inflammatory, disease-protective properties. Read on for the full scoop.

Berries, like blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not just delicious; these sweet gems also offer some serious health-promoting benefits. In recent years, there has been a cascade of research linking the consumption of antioxidant-rich berries to a decreased risk of a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer and age-related mental decline.

Legumes – a class of vegetables also referred to as pulses – are not only shelf stable, affordable, and easy to cook but also a good source of protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. And since there are hundreds of varieties of legumes – from black beans to chickpeas – the sky’s the limit for their culinary possibilities.

Cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, rutabaga, turnips, and beyond contain compounds that help to reduce inflammation and slow cancer cell growth. Simply put, several studies have linked a high intake of cruciferous vegetables to a lowered risk of certain types of cancer.

Lastly, aim to stock up on a variety of herbs and spices, as these act as some of your most powerful disease-fighting allies in the pantry. Promising research is showing that herbs and spices may help boost your body’s natural defense system. One of the three naturally occurring phytochemicals (a fancy word for an active compound in plants) found in turmeric, for example, offers protection from various forms of cancer, heart disease, and mental decline. India, a country that tends to use turmeric more frequently, has one of the lowest risks of colorectal cancer in the world.

While this list is specifically oriented towards anti-inflammatory foods, it’s important to note that all fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain beneficial fiber. While dietary fiber has long been publicized for its role in digestive health, current research is booming on fiber’s ability to boost immune health and reduce the risk of several chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

While there is no “silver bullet” to cure or prevent diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, research has shown us that there are some habits we can adopt to help stack the odds in our favor. Adding more of these foods into your diet is a simple and effective way to be proactive about your health. Let’s eat!


McKenzie Jones

McKenzie Jones

McKenzie is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for nutribullet who aims to make the world a healthier, happier place. She believes that living a healthy lifestyle and eating for your health isn't meant to be complicated -- it's meant to be simple, enjoyable, and judgment-free (with room for dessert). When she’s not dishing out nutrition tidbits, you can find McKenzie visiting her local farmers market, hiking her favorite trails with her husband, and chasing after her daughters.

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