Clean Diet

6 Snappy Plants for Your Best Health

Let good health bloom with these six plant extracts and oils.

1. Pea Protein

If you’re concerned about cholesterol, incorporating a smoothie made with pea protein into your daily routine could be the path to clearer arteries. Studies have shown that by stimulating the digestive system, pea protein might lower cholesterol. It’s also gluten and lactose free, making it easier for some people to digest than other forms of protein, and it’s high in the amino acid arginine, which improves circulation and strengthens the immune system.

How to pick it:

Mix pea protein into your morning and post workout smoothie.

2. Oat Oil

It may be time to sow some wild oats – or at least reap the benefits at breakfast time. Swedish researchers have found that oil made from oats makes you feel fuller throughout the day than other morning meals, most likely because of the way it delays fat’s breakdown and uptake in the stomach.

How to pick it:

Keep eating your morning oatmeal. Another new study by Harvard University, published in the January 2015 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, reveals that those who ate 28 grams of whole grains (the approximate amount found in a bowl of oatmeal) reduced their risk of premature death due to cardiovascular disease by 9%.

3. Licorice Extract

Can eating licorice actually help you fight off obesity? Maybe – but not the sugar-filled variety found in the candy aisle. According to a report in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, the plant Glycyrrhiza uralensis, or Chinese licorice, has a component that may help prevent the metabolic disorders that serve as precursors to obesity. That component, isoliquiritigenin, was effective in reducing inflammation from high-fat diets.

How to pick it:

Isoliquiritigenin isn’t available as a stand-alone supplement yet, but licorice root can be found as a stick, powder, pill or liquid; ask your health-care provider about taking the extract, as the National Institutes of Health cautions against people with heart problems or high blood pressure.

4. Potato Extract

Carb-counting dieters have been shunning the lowly potato for years, but it turns out the tuber may actually help you lose weight, reports McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Mice fed an extract derived from 30 potatoes were less likely to gain pounds, even when ingesting high-fat foods.

How to pick it:

Since it’s the polyphenols in potatoes that seem to provide the benefits, stock your fridge with polyphenol-containing fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, broccoli, apples and spinach.

5. Spice Mix

Time to raid the spice cabinet for not one, not two, but many meal-enhancing spices. That’s because adding a mix of antioxidant rich spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and more to a high-fat meal can help reduce triglycerides, according to Penn State researchers. In their study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, they found that adding a mix of rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika to a meal of chicken curry, Italian herb bread and a cinnamon biscuit was able to reduce blood triglyceride levels by 30%.

How to pick it:

Mix your own spice blend at home to add to your clean-eating

6. Wild Cucumber

Scientists have spent years breeding the bitterness out of cucumbers, but it’s those bitter compounds that may have the most potential for keeping you healthy, researchers report. In a study from the University of California, Davis, published in November 2014 in Science, plant biology professors found that cucurbitacin in the leaves, stems and roots of certain plants including wild cucumbers, may kill or suppress cancer cells and may also have the potential to help treat diabetes.

How to pick it:

Although wild cucumbers are inedible and cucurbitacin needs further study before it’s potentially used for medicinal purposes, the humble cucumber still has potent health benefits. Just make sure to wash your cukes and leave the peel on; the slightly bitter skin has antimicrobial benefits.