When it comes to nutrition, it can be tough remembering which foods are good for you, let alone what parts of the body they benefit. Foods that are high in iron, such as lean red meat, turkey, egg yolks, dried beans, dried fruit, and whole grains, contribute to healthy hair; omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are good for the skin; and probiotics in low-fat plain yogurt are good for the stomach. But who can remember all that?
It turns out that nature has a way of helping us. Some foods actually resemble the body part they are helping. For example, a sliced carrot actually looks like an orange human eye, hinting at the fact that they promote healthy eyes. While eating carrots won’t improve vision, they are filled with vitamins and antioxidants, like beta-carotene, which reduces the risk of developing cataracts and protects against macular degeneration. The folds and wrinkles of a walnut strangely resemble the human brain and the nut even looks as if it has a left and right hemisphere. Coincidentally, walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help support brain function. And celery, which grows into long, lean stalks, looks just like bones and is good for them too, as they are loaded with vitamin K and calcium.
The list goes on, but what about foods that are good for the heart? Here’s an easy tip: if it looks like a heart, it’s probably good for it as well.
“Being red and heart shaped can be a tip off that some foods are good for your heart,” says Katie Eliot, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University. “Many heart shaped fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants. These compounds act like shields, taking the hit from free radicals that otherwise damage the body and cause heart disease and cancer.”
Take tomatoes, for example; not only are they red, but slice one open and you’ll see that it has multiple chambers, much like the structure of a heart. Studies have found that lycopene, which is in tomatoes and many red fruits, as well as red peppers, reduces the risk for heart disease. Strawberries and raspberries are also shaped like the heart and are filled with vitamin C and the antioxidant polyphenol, which prevents plaque from forming. Cherries contain an antioxidant known as anthocyanin that protects blood vessels, and are high in potassium, which lowers blood pressure. Finally, acorn squash and apples contain tons of fiber, which reduces the bad cholesterol that can clog arteries, and cause heart attacks and stroke.
So, next time you are looking for a heart-healthy snack, remember that if it looks like your ticker, it’s probably good for it too. “It’s a happy coincidence that many of these foods actually resemble the organ they help to protect,” says Eliot.
- The best foods for every part of your body. Men’s Health website. http://eatthis.menshealth.com/slideshow/best-foods-every-part-your-body.
- Greene A. Foods that look like body parts they’re good for. Woman’s Day website. http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/nutrition/foods-that-look-like-body-parts-theyre-good-for-109151.
- Heart shaped food good for your ticker. Saint Louis University Doisy College of Health Sciences website. https://www.slu.edu/doisy/heart-shaped-food-good-for-your-ticker.