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Health Benefits of Italian Foods

Classic Italian cooking can be the key to good health with the right ingredients on hand.

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Photo: Stefano Tiraboschi


These essential Italian fruits are an amazing source of vitamin C and lycopene — an antioxidant that boosts heart health and also could give some protection against prostate cancer. Lycopene is even more available to your body when tomatoes are cooked and cooked and oil is added...a perfect excuse to make a batch of tomato sauce.

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.

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Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats — they help by lowering your "bad" LDL cholesterol, especially when used to replace saturated fat. Olive oil also has inflammation-soothing phytonutrients, but these can degrade when olive oil is exposed to light and air, or cooked over high heat. So buy olive oil in metal containers over glass (or just store in the cabinet) and use it over lower heats.

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Red Wine

Red wine has phytonutrients, including resveratrol and anthocyanins, which are linked to heart health. To reap the benefits, though, moderation is key (1 glass a day for women, 2 for men). More than that can harm, rather than help, your health.

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Pungent garlic is a staple of Italian cuisine, and one with a host of health benefits. It's linked to heart health and a reduced risk of certain cancers. Plus, it's thought to be an antifungal (and antibacterial) agent.

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