From a visit to the doctor’s office to waiting in line to get prescriptions filled, treating ailments from the common cold to arthritis can be a painfully excruciating process. The cost for the cure could be more than people can afford with the stacks of medical bills, over-the-counter and prescription drugs piling up on the kitchen table. This past year, recent food discoveries backed by scientific proof have shown natural and nutritious fast fixes to combat diseases lurking in the kitchen. Below are the crème de la crème — best 2013 food discoveries that will help fight diseases and keep you healthy all throughout 2014 without causing you to break the bank.

8. Broccoli May Be Viable Sunscreen, Could Prevent Skin Cancer

The crunchy, green vegetable could potentially defend the body against melanoma development when applied to the skin. Broccoli’s phytochemical, sulforaphane, has been previously linked to cancer-fighting properties when it is consumed, but researchers at the University of Arizona believe it can be more potent as a “topical broccoli sprout solution.” The findings revealed sulforaphane is effective in activating cancer-fighting genes and inhibiting cancer-causing pathways, which have already been proven to be effective in blocking sunburns and even inducing protective enzymes in the skin. The sulforaphane application can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, especially in people with weakened immune systems.

For family friendly broccoli recipes, click here.

7. Chocolate Can Reduce Body Fat

Sweet and succulent, mouth-watering chocolate bars may not be exactly what the doctor ordered to lower body fat percentage, but Spanish researchers believe it could be effective. At the University of Granada in Spain, a team of scientists found body fat levels were inversely proportional to chocolate consumption. Several nutrients in chocolate, such as the high levels of the flavonoid catechin, could account for this finding. The compound is known to promote healthy body fat cells by influencing cortisol production and insulin sensitivity.

For healthy chocolate recipes, click here.

6. Wild Blueberries Lower Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

Two cups of wild blueberries a day can prevent the onset of various diseases linked to metabolic syndrome, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. For someone to be diagnosed with the condition, he or she must develop three of the following health concerns: abdominal obesity, diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, glucose intolerance, low HDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, systolic blood pressure, or high triglyceride levels. The researchers revealed wild blueberries reduce chronic inflammation and improve the abnormal lipid profile and gene expression associated with metabolic syndrome.

For Medical Daily’s very own blueberry recipes, click here.  

5. Eating More Grapes Reduces High Blood Pressure and More

It’s time to add more grapes to your diet without its alcoholic form. A recent study showed people who consume fresh grapes, raisins, and 100 percent grape juice are more likely to have healthier, more balanced diets. Grape consumption can reduce the buildup of fat and prevent cardiovascular disease due to polyphenols, the antioxidant commonly found in grapes.

For grapes recipes for any meal, click here.

4. An Apple A Day Can Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The 150-year-old health proverb “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is actually true. A study from the University of Oxford revealed a daily apple could ease the burden of cardiovascular disease similar to preventative medicine. These findings highlight a cheaper and safe lifestyle for at-risk individuals of this disease. The authors of the study do not recommend patients who are prescribed statins to replace them, but they are in agreement that simply eating more fruit could provide numerous health benefits.

For healthy apple recipes to add to your diet, click here.

3. Oily fish Can Cut Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk In Half

Rheumatoid arthritis patients may want to increase their fish consumption in their diet. Swedish researchers revealed weekly meals of high-fat fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, or trout significantly reduce the risk of the autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. Eating as little as one portion of fish once a week for 10 years reduced the overall risk of the disease by 29 percent, compared to eating other less fatty fish.

For a healthy grilled salmon recipe, click here.

2. Fruits and Vegetables Halve The Risk of Bladder Cancer In Women

While early detection and treatment is the best way to ward off bladder cancer, women are suggested to look no further than their kitchen to lower their cancer risk. The simple consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of bladder cancer in women by more than half, according to a recent study. Women who consumed more fruits and vegetables and had a higher intake of vitamins A, C, and E were at the lowest risk for developing bladder cancer. Those who ate high amounts of yellow-orange vegetables were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer compared to women who ate the least amount of these colored vegetables.

For a delicious sweet potato recipe, click here.

1. Compound In Red Grapes and Blueberries May Help Strengthen Your Immune System

Resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and blueberries, can possibly boost the immune system. As the body’s first line of defense, the immune system benefits from the way vitamin D interacts with resveratrol and pterostilbene to strengthen CAMP gene expression and could solve the common problem of antibiotics losing their effectiveness. Resveratrol, also found in red wine, has been responsible for benefits, such as preventing hearing loss, reducing cholesterol, and lowering the risk for cancer.

For blueberry grape smoothie recipes, click here.  

It’s time to add these foods to your grocery list and let them be a staple in your diet to keep you happy and healthy all throughout 2014.