Here's a simple prescription for a healthy heart: a bowl of steaming homemade soup. Vegetable soups are loaded with natural 'medicine,'—from fortifying vitamins and antioxidants to cholesterol-reducing soluble fiber. They're also low in saturated fat, sodium, and calories. When it comes to the satisfying recipes on the following pages, you'll love every bite.
With fall's harvest fading from memory and spring's bounty still waiting to show its colors, there's no better time to dig into the delicious possibilities root vegetables offer. Insulated from the elements and nurtured by the soil's nutrients, these underground wonders develop better flavor when it's chilly and damp out—the cool temperatures convert root vegetables' starches to sugar and make them sweeter.
Here's a statistic that could make your heart skip a beat: the World Health Organization estimates that cardiovascular disease causes approximately 17.5 million deaths per year worldwide. That's the bad news. The good news is that simply exercising regularly, maintaining a healthful weight, and eating smart can prevent 80 percent of cardiovascular disease. "Whether or not you get heart disease is dramatically influenced by the food choices you make," says Ann G. Kulze, MD, author of Dr. Ann's 10 Step Diet.
Nearly every culture turns to soup to heal, nourish, and soothe. Whether you're battling a bad cold or the stomach flu, the food that can always comfort and nourish is soup. "Soups are warm and easy to take," says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the University of Arizona's Integrative Medicine Program. "They're an excellent way to get nutrients, and they provide good associations for people." Research confirms the health-giving properties of these home remedies and their active ingredients.
One of America's most common killer diseases, type 2 diabetes, jeopardizes the health, quality of life, and longevity of nearly 24 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association, and that number continues to rise. New cases have doubled over the past 30 years, and because the disease occurs gradually and often with no obvious symptoms, many people don't even know they have it. People who are overweight are at higher risk because fat interferes with the body's ability to use insulin, the crux of the disease.
These treasured North American natives do more than add sweetness and dramatic color to recipes. They boast an antioxidant triple threat. Anthocyanins give the berries their vivid blue hue and seem to positively affect a variety of the body's functions, including vision, circulation, and brain activity. Pterostilbene helps keep cholesterol in check, and epicatechins, the curative substances also found in cranberries, promote urinary tract health.
Keeping inflammation at bay is what cherries do best. That's because they contain anthocyanins, antioxidants whose anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce pain. As a rule, the darker the cherry's color, the higher the anthocyanin content. Although both sweet and tart cherries contain anthocyanins, generally, tart cherries, such as Montmorencys, Morellos, and Early Richmonds, have been found to have higher concentrations than sweet cherries, such as Bing, Royal Ann, Rainier, Tartarian, and Lambert. Tart cherries are slightly lower in sugar too.
Cranberries aren't just for Thanksgiving anymore: starting your day with a shot of their crimson juice or tossing dried cranberries into salads and side dishes can confer copious health benefits. Antioxidant proanthocyanidins in cranberries have an antiadhesive quality that repels bacteria, preventing urinary tract infections.
Onion's zesty flavor isn't the only thing that makes chopping one worth the tears it elicits: onions contain ingredients that fight colds and flu.
The only food source of papain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that breaks down proteins, papaya aids digestion, eases stings, burns, and wounds, and slows clotting to improve circulation and hasten nutrient delivery to inflamed areas. Rich in folate and vitamins A and E, papayas have 33 percent more vitamin C than oranges. Carotenoids, antioxidants that give papaya its orange hue, combine with vitamin C to curb heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Papaya is also loaded with potassium and magnesium, which fight hypertension.