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Oli and Ve – Premium Olive Oil & Vinegars

While driving through old town Roswell, Ga, the other day we stopped at a completely unique and totally fun, shop called Oli+Ve Premium Oils & Vinegars.  Jughandle has only recommended a handful of places to our readers.  This is one to pay close attention to.

As the name suggests, the owners are proprietors of fine Olive Oils and Vinegar.  We here on the Farm have been searching high and low for a good consistent  reasonably priced source for olive oil for a long time.  The bonus with Oli + Ve is the amazing collection of  quality balsamic vinegars.

If you click on the link above you will be taken to the shop’s online store where you can purchase and have shipped to your home, their products.  Obviously, you will realize a saving of at least the shipping cost by visiting either of their two stores.  They also have cooking classes and recipes available.

olive oil pics

Olive Oils

The available oils vary by season and range from mild to full intensity flavors.  This being the winter season in the US, the available oils are from Sicily, Australia, Portugal and Chile.  You can sample as many of the oils as you would like to, try that at Kroger, with the recommendation of the owners to go from mild to medium to Robust flavors and then to the flavored oil and finally the vinegars. Prices for the oils are $9.95 for a 200 ml bottle, $17.95 for a 375 ml bottle and $29.95 for the large 750 ml bottle.

All of the offered oils are of the Extra Virgin or EVOO type, which is the highest quality oil available.  While the “single” variety EVOO had 9 different oils to chose from at our visit, there are also a number of Flavored or infused oils ranging in flavor from Basil to Blood Orange, Butter, Cilantro & Roasted Onion, garlic and Eureka Lemon.  To be honest we were a touch overwhelmed by all our options, so we chose to sample just the single variety and a handful of the vinegars on this trip.

Also offered are 4 specialty oils which we chose not to sample this time, but I look forward to on our next visit.  Those are Almond oil, Sesame, Walnut and White Truffle oil.  The first three sell for $18.95 and the White Truffle for $38.95 in a 375 ml bottle, which seem very reasonable to me.

Vinegars

While we were drawn to the shop for it’s olive oil, be became extremely excited about their vinegars.  Where to start?  Well, first of all balsamic vinegar MUST be made in Modena, Italy to be true, balsamic vinegar, just as Champagne is just sparkling wine if it doesn’t come from Champagne France.

Oli+Ve offer dark balsamic vinegars in around 25 different flavors.  I tried, Fig, Dark Chocolate, Blackberry Ginger, and Peach.  There were too many for one visit, but their website will list all of them.  Oh, ALL of the ones I tasted were KILLER.  Some flavors would make great desert sauces, some would be great BBQ sauces.  I tried the Cinnamon Pear on an ice cream sample I was offered. WOW!

Specialty vinegars include, premium white vinegar and red wine vinegar.

Keep in mind that you aren’t buying cheap boiled down vinegar with added sugar.  You are getting barrel aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy.

 

Our Purchases

We bought, a 750 ml bottle of the Robust, Organic Mission from California, which had just arrived, for every day use.  I got a 200 ml bottle of Eureka Lemon EVOO for dressings, and a 200 ml bottle of Fig Balsamic vinegar.  My wife, Darlene bought Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar for desert use.  We can’t wait to go back.  As another bonus, we received 6 check offs against our frequent shopper card that will get us a free bottle after 10 checks.  That won’t be hard at all. Oh, oh, oh, you can also bring back your clean bottle to be refilled and receive a $1 off.

I want everyone to frequent this shop, because quality products like these are hard to find and I’d like them to stay in business for a long time.  And make sure you tell them Jughandle’s Fat Farm sent you.  – jughandle

 

 

Olives

No, olives don’t grow on the tree with the pimento already in them.  In fact, most olives are very bitter when they are fresh and usually need to be processed or cured in lye or a brine to give them the familiar flavor we know.  Green olives are allowed to ferment before being brined while California Black olives are not which gives them a milder flavor than the green ones.  It is the phenolic compounds in the raw fruit that make them bitter.  The fermentation and brining remove those compounds.

Whole Foods Olives

Even though more attention has been sometimes been given to their delicious oil than their whole food delights, olives are one of the world’s most widely enjoyed foods. Technically classified as fruits of the Olea europea tree (an amazing tree that typically lives for hundreds of years) we commonly think about olives not as fruit but as a zesty vegetable that can be added are harvested in September but available year round to make a zesty additionto salads, meat and poultry dishes and, of course, pizza.

via WHFoods: Olives.

Georgia Olives

The US produces less than 1/10 of 1 percent of the world’s olive oil.  Georgia was a big producer of olives in the 1600’s.  Spanish settlers planted trees at missions in southeast Georgia in the 1590’s.  Olives were grown in Georgia well into the 1800’s until the Civil War and other problems eliminated the crop.  Recently there has been a resurgence of olive crops in that same area.

Nutritional value

1 once or about 8 olives have the following :

41 calories

4 g total fat

1 g saturated fat

3.7 g monounsaturated fat

.4 g polyunsaturated fat

436 mg of sodium

1 g carbohydrates

1 g dietary fiber

26.3 mg total Omega-3 fatty acids

340 mg total Omega-6 fatty acids

2% vitamin A

1% calcium

1% iron

Rates 0 on the glycemic load index

Rates a 24 and are mildly anti-inflammatory

Conclusions

Olives and their oil are a good source of “good” fat and there fore a good substitute for animal fat that has cholesterol in it.  I love all things olives and recommend them completely. – jughandle

Sources

Great prices on bulk olives on Amazon

Georgia Olive Oil on line

or Nuts.com for Olives click here

Jughandle’s Oven Slow Roasted Pork Loin

 

Jughandle’s Pork Loin
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Jughandle’s Fat Farm
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 10
Moist tender, melt in your mouth, slow roasted Pork Loin
Ingredients
  • One Pork 1/2 Loin
  • 4 T McCormick’s Lemon Pepper
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic- smashed (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat conventional oven to 235 deg F
  2. Wash and pat dry Pork Loin
  3. Rub Lemon Pepper over entire loin
  4. heat olive oil to smoke point in heavy pan or skillet
  5. add garlic to pan
  6. sear the loin quickly until brown on all sides
  7. put loin on roasting pan fat side up
  8. insert oven save temperature probe in largest part of loin
  9. put loin in oven and cook until internal temperature reads 129 deg F.
  10. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil
  11. Rest for at least 20 mins
  12. Internal temperature should now read over 140 deg F.
  13. Slice and eat while still warm.
Serving size: 6 oz Calories: 373.2 Fat: 17.7 g Saturated fat: 6.2 g Unsaturated fat: 9.6 g Carbohydrates: .1 g Sugar: 0 Fiber: 0 Protein: 50. g Cholestrol: 143.3 mg
Notes

This recipe assumes a 3-4 lb loin. Internal cooking temperature is the key to the success of this dish. Cooking to over 150 deg F will produce a dry flavorless piece of meat.

Pantry 101-General Goods & Condiments 20-26

General goods & Condiments
1. rice
2. dried pasta in different shapes
3. dried onion soup mix
4. tomato paste
5. tomato sauce
6. canned tomatoes
7. peanut butter
8. jelly
9. canned tuna
10. raisins
11. chocolate syrup
12. cereals
13. chicken or beef stock
14. canned soups
15. canned beans
16. olives
17. canned pears
18. canned peaches
19. applesauce
20. vegetable oil
21. olive oil
22. red wine vinegar
23. white wine vinegar
24. vegetable shortening
25. nonstick cooking spray
26. mayonnaise
27. ketchup
28. mustard
29. salad dressings
30. soy sauce
31. hot pepper sauce
32. Worcestershire sauce
33. barbecue sauce
34. salsa
35. honey
36. maple syrup
37. white wine for cooking
38. red wine for cooking
39. Mango Chutney

20) vegetable oil

Vegetable fats and oils are lipid materials derived from plants. Physically, oils are liquid at room temperature, and fats are solid. Chemically, both fats and oils are composed of triglycerides, as contrasted with waxes which lack glycerin in their structure. Although many different parts of plants may yield oil, in commercial practice, oil is extracted primarily from seeds.
The melting temperature distinction between oils and fats is imprecise, since definitions of room temperature vary, and typically natural oils have a melting range instead of a single melting point.
Vegetable fats and oils may be edible or inedible.

I’m not going to do a dissertation on the health or unhealthy use of oil, except to say, when cooking with oil, any oil, never let it go above 400 deg. The oil will breakdown at those temperatures and produce very unhealthy bi-products.

Pure vegetable oil like Wesson should be used sparingly. Yes, you need it in the pantry, but don’t use it as a first choice. Use, in this order, Olive oil, Canola oil (rapeseed), Safflower oil and peanut oil. When frying at high temps (375 degs max) the use of peanut oil is better because it holds up at high temps better.

Negative health effects

A high consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are found in most types of vegetable oil (e.g. soybean oil, corn oil – the most consumed in USA, sunflower oil, etc.), may increase the likelihood that postmenopausal women will develop breast cancer[18]. Similar effect was observed on prostate cancer[19]. Other analysis suggested an inverse association between total polyunsaturated fatty acids and breast cancer risk[20].

21) olive oil


I use olive oil almost exclusively, even when I pan fry.
Retail grades in IOOC member nations

In countries which adhere to the standards of the IOOC the labels in stores show an oil’s grade. The US is not a member.

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from cold pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oil may not contain refined oil.
Virgin olive oil has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste.
Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin or extra-virgin oil.
Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined oil, of no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely sold at retail; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
Lampante oil is olive oil not suitable as food; lampante comes from olive oil’s long-standing use in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.

Label wording

Olive oil vendors choose the wording on their labels very carefully.

“100% Pure Olive Oil” is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have “virgin” on the label.
“Made from refined olive oils” means that the taste and acidity were chemically controlled.
“Light olive oil” means refined olive oil, with less flavour. All olive oil has 120 Calories per tablespoon (34 KJ/ml).
“From hand-picked olives” implies that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen in order to increase yield.
“First cold press” means that the oil in bottles with this label is the first oil that came from the first press of the olives. The word cold is important because if heat is used, the olive oil’s chemistry is changed. It should be noted that extra-virgin olive oil is cold pressed, but not necessarily the first oils.
The label may indicate that the oil was bottled or packed in a stated country. This does not necessarily mean that the oil was produced there. The origin of the oil may sometimes be marked elsewhere on the label; it may be a mixture of oils from more than one country.

Retail grades in the United States from the USDA

As the United States is not a member, the IOOC retail grades have no legal meaning in that country; terms such as “extra virgin” may be used without legal restrictions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently lists four grades of olive oil. These grades were established in 1948, and are based on acidity, absence of defects, odor and flavor:

U.S. Grade A or U.S. Fancy possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 1.4% and is “free from defects”
U.S. Grade B or U.S. Choice possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 2.5% and is “reasonably free from defects”
U.S. Grade C or U.S. Standard possesses a free fatty acid content of not more than 3.0% and is “fairly free from defects”
U.S. Grade D or U.S. Substandard possesses a free fatty acid content greater than 3.0% “fails to meet the requirements of U.S. Grade C”

These grades are entirely voluntary and are available from the USDA on a fee-for-service basis.
****Now that I have totally confused you I will summarize: Buy Extra-virgin olive oil that is from the first COLD pressing. Don’t buy anything else and buy the most expensive oil you can justify. And usually, the greener the oil the better. I have found that Trader Joe’s has an excellent oil at a very reasonable price.

22) red wine vinegar
Wine vinegar is either made from red or white. Cooks use vinegar for many purposes such as; pickling, deglazing pans, marinating meats, making sauces and is found in certain desserts. Red wine vinegar is commonly used in the Mediterranean countries, being a common staple in most French homes. There are several different qualities of red wine vinegar. The longer the wine vinegar matures, the better it is. Most red wines can be matured up to two years. White wine vinegar is a moderately tangy vinegar that French cooks use to make Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauces, vinaigrettes, soups, and stews. It’s also an excellent base for homemade fruit or herb vinegars

Season: available year-round

Substitutions: red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice vinega, cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegarr, sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar

23) white wine vinegar
See Red wine vinegar

24) vegetable shortening
I’ve made this real big so you would read this. Don’t use shortening, is my recommendation!

Shortening is a semisolid fat used in food preparation, especially baked goods, and is so called because it promotes a “short” or crumbly texture (as in shortbread). The term “shortening” can be used more broadly to apply to any fat that is used for baking and which is solid at room temperature, such as butter, lard, or margarine, but as used in recipes it refers to a hydrogenated vegetable oil that is solid at room temperature. Shortening has a higher smoke point than butter and margarine, and it has 100% fat content, compared to about 80% for butter and margarine.

Although the term has been in use for many years it is now known that shortening works by inhibiting the formation of long protein (gluten) strands in wheat-based doughs. The similarity in terms is entirely coincidental since full understanding of the structure and chemistry of dough is comparatively recent.

History

Crisco, a popular brand in the USA, was first produced in 1911. In Ireland and the UK Cookeen is a popular brand. An industrial product, shortening has many advantages. While similar to butter or lard, it is cheaper to produce; originally, lard was far cheaper and edible oils came at a higher cost. Shortening also needs no refrigeration, which further lowers its costs and increases its convenience. As a substitute for butter, it can lengthen the shelf life of baked goods and other foods. With these advantages shortening gained popularity, as food production became increasingly industrialized and manufacturers sought low-cost raw materials. Vast surpluses of cottonseed oil, corn oil, and soy beans helped found a market in low-cost shortening.

Health concerns and reformulation

Available and used worldwide, vegetable shortening is believed to be damaging to human health since it generally contains trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. After the oils are hydrogenated they become solid at room temperature, but the type of trans fat generated in this process has adverse health effects. Usage of shortening lacking trans fats has grown, notably with the 2007 reformulation of Crisco such that it contains less than 1g of trans fat per 12g serving. Cookeen was also reformulated in autumn 2006 to remove trans fats[1]. Non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening can be made from palm oil.

Comparative properties of common cooking fats (per 100g)
Total Fat Saturated Fat Monounsaturated Fat Polyunsaturated Fat Protein
Butter 81g 51g 21g 3g 1g
Vegetable Shortening (hydrogenated) 71g 23g 8g 37g 0g
Olive Oil 100g 14g 73g 11g 0g
Lard 100g 39g 45g 11g 0g

To sum up: The new Crisco STILL has some transfat in it. Look other brands that are labeled NO TRANS FATS if you want to avoid that completely.

Update- so you’ll know the facts:

In April 2004, Smucker introduced “Crisco Zero Grams Trans Fat Per Serving All-Vegetable Shortening,” which contained fully hydrogenated palm oil blended with liquid vegetable oils to yield a shortening much like the original Crisco. As of January 24, 2007, all Crisco shortening products have been reformulated to contain less than one gram of trans fat per serving. The separately marketed trans-fat free version introduced in 2004 was discontinued.  Crisco now consists of a blend of soybean oil, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils. According to the product information label, one 12 g serving of Crisco contains 3 g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 6 g of polyunsaturated fat, and 2.5 g of monounsaturated fat.  It is claimed that this reformulated Crisco has the same cooking properties and flavor as the original version of the product.

According to the FDA website, “Food manufacturers are allowed to list amounts of trans fat with less than 0.5 gram (1/2 g)per serving as 0 (zero) on the Nutrition Facts panel.”

Controversy

Some nutritionists are already warning that Crisco’s formula change may be nutritionally irrelevant. They argue that fully hydrogenated oil may not be any healthier than trans-fat containing partially hydrogenated oil. Crisco and similar low trans-fat products are formed by the interesterification of a mixture of fully hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils. The result is “artificial” insofar as the composition of the resultant triglycerides is random, and may contain combinations of fatty acids not commonly found in nature. A recent study showed that interesterified fat increased volunteers’ blood sugar by 20 percent while simultaneously lowering the body’s “good” HDL cholesterol. The rise in blood sugar is problematic since it increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, already a growing problem in the US.

Since cotton crops are under far less chemical regulation that other other crops used specifically for food, many pesticides or chemicals can be used on cotton crops that are illegal for use on food crops, yet the cottonseed can find it’s way into the food chain because of this major legal loophole in the regulation of food and chemicals by the FDA. Some serious pesticides or chemicals could resist processing and find their way into the food chain because of this.

25. nonstick cooking spray
These can be really good products. I use three different ones. I use the the original Pam, the High Heat Pam for grilling, a Baker’s no-stick spray with flour in it and an Olive oil spray. Just remember that most of these sprays are flammable if not because of the propellant, because of the oil. And also remember to use a small amount. The smaller the better. If you’d like to know some alternate uses for cooking spray, go to this site:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/496283/alternative_uses_for_cooking_spray.html?cat=22

26. mayonnaise
This topic could be very long and drawn out, so I’ll make it easy. I make my own mayonnaise about 1/4 of the time. Other than that I would rather do without than use anything but Hellman’s Original Mayo. I’ve tried them all and I only like my own or Hellman’s. I even HATE so called “Salad Dressing”. I’d love to hear what you guys think about this. – Jug

Sun-Drying Zucchini the Sicilian Way | Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Sun-Drying Zucchini the Sicilian Way | Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Serves 4 as a main course, or 6 as a side dish.

Prep Time: 36 hours

Cook Time: 5 minutes

  • 4 zucchini
  • Salt
  • Skewers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or espellette pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

  1. Slice zucchini into disks about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle salt on a large cookie sheet or two, then lay the zucchini on them. Sprinkle more salt on top. Leave at room temperature for no more than an hour — the longer you go, the saltier the zucchini will be. If you plan on preserving these in jars, go the full hour.
  2. Pat dry with a towel and skewer. Hang the zucchini in a hot dry place for 24-48 hours, depending on the temperature. You want them to be dry, but not hard. Think soft dried apricots…
  3. Once dried like this, they can be stored in jars, covered in olive oil, for months in the fridge.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the zucchini rounds and toss to coat with oil. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. In the final minute, add the cayenne and toss to combine, then do the same with the mint. Turn off the heat.
  6. Squeeze the lemon juice on the zucchini when you are ready to serve.
List of “Superfoods” we all need

Men’s health has an interesting article on the “25 Ridiculously Healthy Foods” that we need to eat.  Here is the list, but click the link and read it for your self.  This should be easy for everyone, I think there are only 3 things on the list I don’t eat regularly.  – jug

1. eggs -Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer (one yolk supplies 25% of your daily need) and antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Though many of us have shunned whole eggs because of their link to heart disease risk, there’s actually substantial evidence that for most of us, eggs are not harmful but healthy.

2. Greek yogurt-Yogurt is a great way to get calcium, and it’s also rich in immune-boosting bacteria. But next time you hit the yogurt aisle, pick up the Greek kind—compared with regular yogurt, it has twice the protein (and 25% of women over 40 don’t get enough). Look for fat-free varieties like Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt (90 calories and 15 g of protein per 5.3-ounce serving).

3. fat-free milk- Yes, it does a body good: Studies show that calcium isn’t just a bone booster but a fat fighter too. Recent research from the University of Tennessee found that obese people who went on a low-calorie, calcium-rich diet lost 70% more weight than those who ate the least. Vitamin D not only allows your body to absorb calcium, it’s also a super nutrient in its own right. Recent research found that adequate D levels can reduce heart disease risk, ward off certain types of cancer, relieve back pain, and even help prevent depression, but most of us don’t get nearly enough of the 1,000+ IU daily that most experts recommend.

4. Salmon- Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega-3s you can find. These essential fatty acids have a wide range of impressive health benefits—from preventing heart disease to smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss to boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t reaping these perks because we’re deficient, which some experts believe may be at the root of many of the big health problems today, like obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

5. Lean beef- Lean beef is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron there is. (Too-little iron can cause anemia.) Adding as little as 1 ounce of beef per day can make a big difference in the body’s ability to absorb iron from other sources, says Mary J. Kretsch, PhD, a researcher at the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA. Beef also packs plenty of zinc (even minor deficiencies may impair memory) and B vitamins, which help your body turn food into energy.

If you can, splurge on grass-fed. Compared with grain-fed beef, it has twice the concentration of vitamin E, a powerful brain-boosting antioxidant. It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Because this type of beef tends to be lower in overall fat, it can be tough—so marinate it, and use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking.

6. beans- It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than beans. One cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 g fiber. They’re also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most women fall short on—calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.

The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming at least 3 cups of beans a week—3 times the measly 1 cup we usually get. Keep your cupboards stocked with all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. Use them in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, and veggie chili or pureed for sandwich spreads.

7. nuts- In a nutshell: USDA researchers say that eating 1½ ounces of tree nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s. Hazelnuts contain arginine, an amino acid that may lower blood pressure. An ounce of almonds has as many heart-healthy polyphenols as a cup of green tea and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli combined; they may help lower LDL cholesterol as well.

8. edamame and tofu- 

Soy’s days as a cure-all may be over—some claims, such as help for hot flashes, don’t seem to be panning out—but edamame still has an important place on your plate. Foods such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame help fight heart disease when they replace fatty meats and cheeses, slashing saturated fat intake. Soy also contains heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, a good amount of fiber, and some important vitamins.

Soy’s isoflavones, or plant estrogens, may also help prevent breast cancer. Some researchers believe these bind with estrogen receptors, reducing your exposure to the more powerful effects of your own estrogen, says Prevention advisor Andrew Weil, MD. But stick with whole soy foods rather than processed foods, like patties or chips, made with soy powder. Don’t take soy supplements, which contain high and possibly dangerous amounts of isoflavones.

9. oatmeal- Fiber-rich oats are even healthier than the FDA thought when it first stamped them with a heart disease–reducing seal 10 years ago. According to new research, they can also cut your risk of type 2 diabetes. When Finnish researchers tracked 4,316 men and women over the course of 10 years, they found that people who ate the highest percentage of cereal fiber were 61% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

To reap the benefits, eat 1/2 cup daily—preferably unsweetened. For a versatile breakfast, top with different combinations of fruit, yogurt, and nuts. You can also use oats to coat fish or chicken or add texture to meatballs.

10. flaxseed- Flaxseed is the most potent plant source of omega-3 fats. Studies indicate that adding flaxseed to your diet can reduce the development of heart disease by 46%—it helps keep red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries. It may also reduce breast cancer odds. In one study, women who ate 10 g of flaxseed (about 1 rounded tablespoon) every day for 2 months had a 25% improvement in the ratio of breast cancer–protective to breast cancer–promoting chemicals in their blood.

Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day on your cereal, salad, or yogurt. Buy it preground, and keep it refrigerated.

11. olive oil- Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), which lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. It’s rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

Look for extra virgin oils for the most antioxidants and flavor. Drizzle small amounts on veggies before roasting; use it to sauté or stir-fry, in dressings and marinades, and to flavor bread at dinner in lieu of a layer of butter or margarine.

12. avocado- These smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of not only MUFAs but other key nutrients as well. One Ohio State University study found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa, it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids, plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. “Avocados are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet.

13. broccoli- Pick any life-threatening disease—cancer, heart disease, you name it—and eating more broccoli and its cruciferous cousins may help you beat it, Johns Hopkins research suggests. Averaging just four weekly servings of veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower slashed the risk of dying from any disease by 26% among 6,100 people studied for 28 years.

For maximum disease-fighting benefits, whip out your old veggie steamer. It turns out that steaming broccoli lightly releases the maximum amount of sulforaphane.

14. spinach- We’ll spare you the Popeye jokes, but spinach has serious health muscles. For one thing, it contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in egg yolks. Aside from guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, lutein may prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol.

Spinach is also rich in iron, which helps deliver oxygen to your cells for energy, and folate, a B vitamin that prevents birth defects. Cook frozen spinach leaves (they provide more iron when cooked than raw) and serve as a side dish with dinner a few times a week.

15. tomatoes- Tomatoes are our most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease and breast cancer. The only problem with tomatoes is that we generally eat them in the form of sugar-loaded jarred spaghetti sauce or as a thin slice in a sandwich. For a healthier side dish idea, quarter plum tomatoes and coat with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes, and serve with chicken.

16. sweet potatoes- One of the best ways to get vitamin A—an essential nutrient that protects and maintains eyes, skin, and the linings of our respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts—is from foods containing beta-carotene, which your body converts into the vitamin. Beta carotene–rich foods include carrots, squash, kale, and cantaloupe, but sweet potatoes have among the most. A half-cup serving of these sweet spuds delivers only 130 calories but 80% of the DV of vitamin A. Replace tonight’s fries with one medium baked sweet potato (1,096 mcg) and you’re good to go—and then some.

17. garlic- Garlic is a flavor essential and a health superstar in its own right. The onion relative contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which studies show may decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to a research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Allicin also fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold.

The key to healthier garlic: Crush the cloves, and let them stand for up to 30 minutes before heating them, which activates and preserves the heart-protecting compounds, according to a 2007 study from Argentina.

18. red peppers- Citrus fruits get all the credit for vitamin C, but red peppers are actually the best source. Vitamin C may be best known for skin and immunity benefits. Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at vitamin C intake in 4,025 women and found that those who ate more had less wrinkling and dryness. And although getting enough vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold or flu, studies show that it could help you recover faster.

Vitamin C has other important credentials too. Finnish researchers found that men with low levels were 2.4 times likelier to have a stroke, and Australian scientists recently discovered that the antioxidant reduces knee pain by protecting your knees against arthritis.

19. figs- When you think of potassium-rich produce, figs probably don’t come to mind, but you may be surprised to learn that six fresh figs have 891 mg of the blood pressure-lowering mineral, nearly 20% of your daily need—and about double what you’d find in one large banana. In a recent 5-year study from the Netherlands, high-potassium diets were linked with lower rates of death from all causes in healthy adults age 55 and older. Figs are one of the best fruit sources of calcium, with nearly as much per serving (six figs) as 1/2 cup of fat-free milk.

Serve by chopping and adding to yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or green salads. Or enjoy them as a savory snack: Cut a slit in the side and stuff with 1/2 teaspoon of a low-fat version of a soft cheese such as chèvre or Brie.

20. blueberries- Blueberries may very well be the most potent age-defying food—they’re jam-packed with antioxidants. When researchers at Cornell University tested 25 fruits for these potent compounds, they found that tangy-sweet wild blueberries (which are smaller than their cultivated cousins) packed the most absorbable antioxidants. Research shows a diet rich in blueberries can help with memory loss, prevent urinary tract infections, and relieve eyestrain.

Add up to 1/2 cup of blueberries to your diet a day for maximum health benefits, recommends Ronald Prior, PhD, adjunct professor of food science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. This alone provides just about double the amount of antioxidants most Americans get in 1 day.

21. asian pears- One large Asian pear has a whopping 10 g of cholesterol-lowering fiber, about 40% of your daily need. People who ate the most fiber had the lowest total and LDL cholesterol levels, according to a recent study of Baltimore adults. The same researchers found that people who ate the most fiber also weighed the least and had the lowest body mass index and waist circumference.

Serve by dicing it into a salad of Boston lettuce, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and mandarin oranges. Or make it a dessert: Add peeled and cored pears to a saucepan with 1 cup white wine, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, and enough water to cover the pears. Cover and simmer 40 minutes or until pears are soft.

22. lychee- A French study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lychee has the second-highest level of heart-healthy polyphenols of all fruits tested—nearly 15% more than the amount found in grapes (cited by many as polyphenol powerhouses). The compounds may also play an important role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer.

Serve by peeling or breaking the outer covering just below the stem; use a knife to remove the black pit. Add to stir-fries or skewer onto chicken kebabs to add a sweet, grapelike flavor.

23. apples- One of the healthiest fruits you should be eating is one you probably already are: the apple. The Iowa Women’s Health Study, which has been investigating the health habits of 34,000 women for nearly 20 years, named apples as one of only three foods (along with pears and red wine) that are most effective at reducing the risk of death from heart disease among postmenopausal women. Other massive studies have found the fruit to lower risk of lung cancer and type 2 diabetes—and even help women lose weight.

In fact, one of the only things that could make an apple unhealthy is mixing it with sugar, flour, and butter and stuffing it into a mile-high pie. Instead, have one as an afternoon snack with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or add slices to sandwiches or salads.

24. guava- Native to South America, this tropical fruit is an excellent source of skin-healing vitamin C, with 250% of your RDA per serving. One cup of guava has nearly 5 times as much C as a medium orange (377 mg versus 83 mg)—that’s more than 5 times your daily need. It’s also loaded with lycopene (26% more than a tomato), which may help lower your risk of heart disease. And according to research by microbiologists in Bangladesh, guava can even protect against foodborne pathogens such as Listeria and staph.

You can buy guava juice, or simmer chunks in water as you would to make applesauce. Guava also makes a super smoothie: Blend 1/2 banana, 1/2 ripe guava, a handful of strawberries, 1/2 cup soy milk, and a few ice cubes.

25. dark chocolate – Thank you, dark chocolate, for making us feel good—not guilty—about dessert. Dark chocolate is filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries.It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, according to a study from Denmark. Researchers gave 16 participants 100 g of either dark or milk chocolate and 2 hours later offered them pizza. Those who consumed the dark chocolate ate 15% fewer calories than those who had milk chocolate, and they were less interested in fatty, salty, and sugary foods.

Try a chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. Two tablespoons of dark chocolate chips with fresh berries as a midafternoon snack or after-dinner dessert should give you some of the heart-healthy benefits without busting your calorie budget.