6 Food Cures That Really Work
If you've got aches and pains, try one of these food fixes for fast relief
(This article previously appeared on Grandparents.com.)
1. Lemon Juice for Kidney Stones
If you've ever had kidney stones, you know they are no joke. Patients have compared kidney stone pains to that of childbirth. According to the National Kidney Foundation, there's a very simple solution that could help: lemonade. The juice from lemons and other citrus fruits like limes is high in citrate, which may help keep kidney stones at bay by preventing calcium from combining with other stone-forming materials in the body, says Dr. Allan Jhagroo, a kidney stone specialist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
(MORE: How to Prevent Kidney Stones)
Aim for four ounces of lemon juice a day, either straight, diluted with water, or in lemonade. Just make sure your lemonade is sugar-free, or make your own with sugar substitutes, since sugar can up your risk for kidney stones.
2. Avocado for High Cholesterol
It might seem counterintuitive that a fat-laden fruit can help lower cholesterol. But studies have found that avocado, which is high in healthy monounsaturated fats and beta-sitosterol, a natural substance proven to lower cholesterol, lowered levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL), while also raising "good" cholesterol (HDL).
In fact, the results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that avocado-eaters were simply healthier: They ate more fruits and vegetables, had lower body weights and smaller waistlines, and a lower risk for developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious conditions. Try to eat half of an avocado each day; besides eating it plain, avocados are great in salads, mashed into guacamole or even as a substitute for mayonnaise, butter or cream cheese in anything from brownies and cakes (seriously) to tuna salad.
3. Cherries for Joint Pain
Approximately 52 million Americans have arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. When dealing with stiff and painful joints or gout flare-ups, upping your intake of berries, especially tart cherries, may help. It's all thanks to anthocyanin, the pigment responsible for the red and blue colors of berries like blueberries, raspberries and cherries, which may have higher levels of anthocyanins than other fruits, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Studies published in the Journal of Nutrition, Journal of Natural Products and Behavioral Brain Research have shown that anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling and managing pain caused by arthritis. These studies found that eating 10 tart cherries a day was effective against gout, and 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day helped significantly reduce inflammation from osteoarthritis.
4. Beans for Heartburn
Although heartburn-trigger foods vary from person to person, some studies have found foods that seem to alleviate symptoms, like beans. One study published in the journal Gut found that people who had diets high in fiber were 20 percent less likely to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, which includes heartburn.
Researchers speculate that fiber helps control acid reflux, because it hurries food out of the stomach, thereby preventing it from lingering and causing trouble. Try adding 1/2 cup of beans to soups, salads or over rice.
5. Raisins for High Blood Pressure
Have higher than average blood pressure? Make sure to munch on a handful of raisins a few times a day. Raisins, especially when compared to snacks like cookies, helped lower blood pressure in a study from the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center (L-MARC). Their study found that people who ate raisins three times a day had significantly lower blood pressure during the study than those who ate prepackaged snacks, or other fruits or vegetables.
Though it's not clear exactly why raisins help lower blood pressure, it could be because of their high potassium levels, which is "known to lower blood pressure," says Dr. Harold Bays, medical director and president of L-MARC and lead investigator of the study. Try for about a 1/4 cup of raisins a few times a day.
6. Popcorn for Constipation
When you can't go, just pop some popcorn. While laxatives can have unpleasant side effects, popcorn is a whole grain and a low-calorie way to get fiber, which helps relieve constipation, according to the National Institutes of Health. That doesn't give you a pass to chow down on a bucket at the movies, however — all of the added butter and salt cancels out the benefits. Stick to air-popped, which has just 192 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber in three cups, or low-calorie microwave versions.