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7 foods with special health benefits

What’s surprisingly good for you

Published: May 2014

Coconut water, chia seeds, acai berry—there seems to be a new exotic or hard-to-find “superfood” every month. So you might be surprised to hear that some items you keep stocked in your refrigerator or kitchen pantry also pack some phenomenal health benefits. Here are seven examples, plus tips on how to incorporate them into your diet deliciously.

A red bell pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange

Most people associate immunity-boosting vi­tamin C with cit­rus fruit. But 1 cup of chopped red bell pepper has more than twice the amount of vitamin C of a medium-sized orange.

Use it: Slice into rings; sauté each ring in a pan with olive oil and crack an egg into the middle. Cook for about 3 minutes per side.

Potatoes can lower blood pressure

Those starchy veggies get a bad rap because of their high carbohydrate content. But purple and white potatoes, rich in the minerals magnesium and potassium, can help to lower the risk of hypertension, according to a 2013 review in the Annals of Medicine.

Use them: Toss cubed potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice, and thyme, and roast at 375° F for 45 minutes or until golden brown (toss every 10 minutes).

Raspberries have more fiber than most other fruit

A cup of raspberries has 8 grams of digestion-aiding, fill-you-up fiber. A cup of apple slices has only about 3 grams.

Use them: Layer with Greek yogurt and high-fiber cereal for a tasty parfait.

Peas are a good source of protein

You may have added tofu or beans to your diet as sources of protein. But green peas are also a great source of the nutrient, which builds muscle. One cup has 8 grams of protein, 2 grams more than you’ll find in a large egg.

Use them: Whirl peas in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley for a healthful, hummuslike spread.

Parsley has a lot of vitamin K

A quarter-cup of this chopped garnish packs 246 micrograms of bone-building vitamin K, almost three times the amount you need in a day.

Use it: Sprinkle parsley on eggs, pasta, and soups, or process it with olive oil, garlic, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese for a fresh twist on pesto.

Popcorn is a whole grain

This snack food is one of the most nutritious ones around, because it’s a fiber-rich, heart-disease-preventing whole grain. Just be careful what you put on it. Loads of butter or movie theater “buttery topping” can pile on empty calories.

Use it: Toss air-popped popcorn with olive oil and antioxidant-rich dried spices such as oregano and rosemary. See our popcorn buying guide.  

Sauerkraut is probiotic-packed

You probably think of yogurt as the go-to source for healthy bacteria to keep your gut in balance. But pickled foods such as kimchee and sauerkraut can also be rich in probiotics. (For more information, read Probiotics can help prevent dangerous infections.)

Use it: Look for refrigerated sauerkraut that hasn’t been pasteurized to gain the full benefits. (But young children, people older than 75, and those with compromised immune systems should avoid unpasteurized foods.)  

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the June 2014 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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