There’s no question that maintaining a nutritious diet can help keep your body healthy. But when it comes to which foods can specifically benefit which body parts, science remains surprisingly sketchy. For all the hype about the health benefits of, say, antioxidants and probiotics, a scan of the scientific literature reveals how much we don’t know.
Here’s a guide to foods whose benefits to the body are supported, to varying degrees, by reputable research.
Food: Egg yolks, yellow corn
Benefit: Lutein, one of the brightly colored (yellow, in this case) compounds calls carotenoids that give fruits and vegetables their color, may help ward off age-related macular degeneration, probably by acting as a cell-damage-fighting antioxidant.
Food: Salmon, tuna, sardines
Benefits: The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in cold-water, fatty fish is thought to play a role in protecting against dementia; one study found that people who ate lots of fatty fish had a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for eating four ounces of fish, twice a week.