CAYENNE CHILI PEPPER Sprinkling this spice on your food helps prevent a big spike in blood sugar after a meal, according to a new study from the University of Tasmania. When adults polished off a chili-seasoned burger on a bun with a sugary beverage, their blood sugar was much lower than when they finished the drink and the burger sans spices. The researchers credit capsaicin—the fiery substance in chili peppers—for at least part of the benefit.
CARROTS A Harvard University study found that crunching on half a cup of dark yellow vegetables, like carrots, each day cuts the risk of diabetes in women by 27 percent. The researchers aren't sure why, but they think it may be due to the high level of antioxidants in these vegetables. To enhance your absorption of antioxidants from carrots (or any colorful veggie), serve them with a little fat, such as olive oil.
Scale back your weight
Simply carrying a few extra pounds on your frame raises your chances of developing chest pain or having a heart attack by 17 percent, according to a review of 21 studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Being obese—having a body mass index of 30 or greater—increases your risk by 49 percent. Excess pounds also raise your odds of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, diabetes, and other conditions that increase heart disease risk. To maintain a healthy weight, incorporate these foods into your meals.
BROCCOLI While it's true that all veggies are low- cal, broccoli is one of the biggest diet bargains: A half cup of cooked florets has a mere 27 calories, about the amount in just a tiny bite of lasagna. You'll also get 3 grams of fiber, which helps fill you up. "Before you cook broccoli, chop it into small pieces. That way, it will absorb the seasonings better," says Gutterson.