Indulging in your favorite desserts is part of living a balanced lifestyle. It’s good for the soul, and constantly focusing on “eating clean” isn’t great for your mental health. That being said, it’s still important to look out for your physical health. A great way to do that is by trying to incorporate nutrient-dense foods into your diet. The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health; all of the items on this list are delicious. Plus, you have a lot of freedom with how you prepare them. Just because it’s healthy, it doesn’t make it boring. If you want to look out for your health, while also enjoying every meal, consider adding these healthy foods to your grocery list. Her are the top 10 healthiest foods you need to be eating.
Drink their juice, toss them in a smoothie, mix them in a salad, or eat them straight off the bush. Whatever way you like to eat your berries, you can enjoy them even more knowing that they’re not just great tasting – they’re actually one of the healthiest foods out there. Each type of berry brings its own benefits to the table, so you really can’t go wrong. Blueberries are commonly known for being an excellent source of antioxidants, which are compounds that prevent cell damage, thereby reducing the risk of various diseases in the long run. Blueberries are loaded with important nutrients, including fibre, manganese, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. It also looks like blueberries might actually help to control your blood pressure, and even prevent hypertension. Another berry that you should consider reaping the health benefits of is the raspberry. Like blueberries, raspberries are jam-packed with antioxidants. They’re also high in fibre and low in sugar. Cranberries are a third kind of superfood berry. They’re a great way to up your intake of fibre, Vitamin C, and B vitamins. Cranberries are also known for their effectiveness for preventing and easing urinary tract infections. While they have several health benefits, you should always consume cranberries in moderation. If you overdo it, you might end up with some unpleasant stomach problems.
Sure, it’s a huge fad these days, but avocado isn’t just for hipsters trying to play it cool. Many people have voiced concerns about the high fat content in avocados, but the kinds of fats found in avocados are actually healthy and essential. Avocados have also been found to increase levels of “good” cholesterol, which in turn lowers the levels of “bad” cholesterol in your body. They’re also high in both folate and Vitamins K and B6. Furthermore, avocado can help your body absorb the nutrients found in other plant-based foods. Essentially, eating avocado makes other vegetables healthier. So, be sure to enjoy avocado alongside your favorite veggies from time to time for an added health bonus. There are so many ways to enjoy avocado. You can whip up some guacamole, you can eat it on toast or put it in a sandwich, you can use it in salad, you can eat it on its own with a bit of salt, you can even put it in a smoothie if you’re feeling adventurous. Avocado is anything but boring, so there’s no reason not to try incorporating it into your diet. Yes, it can be hard to tell if it’s ripe or not but, other than that, avocado is basically the perfect food.
8. Almonds and Walnuts
As health-consciousness becomes increasingly trendy, so do nuts. It’s no secret that they’re great for your health, and almonds and walnuts are some of the best of the batch. They’re both awesome sources of protein, which is always a plus, especially for anyone following a plant-based diet. When it comes to antioxidants, walnuts come out on top, containing more than any other nut. They’re also packed with healthy fats. Almonds also have that healthy fat thing going for them, and they’re brimming with nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, and calcium. Both make for a filling snack, so they’re the perfect thing to munch on when you’re on the go. You can also chop them up and use them in salads. Walnuts in particular go great in any salad containing beets, which just so happen to be yet another superfood. Unsweetened, natural almond butter is another healthy option, which many people find tastes better than peanut butter. It’s perfect on toast or paired with apple slices and is absolutely worth trying if you haven’t already.
Kids everywhere refuse to eat it, but their parents keep on serving it. And for a good reason. Broccoli is a superfood if there ever was one. The healthiest ways to prepare broccoli are raw or steamed, as over cooking it significantly reduces its nutritional value. Which is a shame, because broccoli contains so many nutrients, you’d get bored if we listed them all. Just a few are fibre, calcium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants like Vitamin C and beta-carotene. This vegetable has been associated with a boost in immune system function and a decreased risk of cancer. It’s also been shown to be good for the heart. All in all, it looks like broccoli has a good effect on pretty much every part of the body. Increasing your broccoli intake could be a great step towards living a healthier lifestyle. If you’re not a huge fan of the vegetable, there are many ways that you can make it more interesting. You could make a broccoli salad, use it in a stir-fry, serve it in a casserole, whatever sounds most interesting to you. There are tons of ideas online, so don’t hesitate to look for ideas and maybe step out of your comfort zone.
You’ve probably heard of fish referred to as “brain-food” and, while that’s a bit of an over-simplification, there’s truth to it. This is because salmon is chock-full of omega-3 fatty acid, which helps promote oxygen flow to the brain. This has a ton of great benefits in terms of brain function and development. They’ve also been shown to contribute greatly to heart health. There’s been quite a bit of research done on the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and, while not all of them have been proven, it’s been suggested that eating foods like salmon could have a huge positive effect on many areas of your overall health. Additionally, salmon is a fantastic source of protein. It’s important that everyone meet their daily required intake of protein and salmon is a great way to do so – especially if you’re a gym rat focused on gaining muscle. Furthermore, salmon contains tons of important vitamins, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D. If you keep incorporating foods like salmon into your diet, you’ll have no need for your daily multivitamins any longer. Finally, possibly the best thing about salmon is how great it tastes. But, if you find it a little bland, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of sauces and seasonings.
5. Sweet Potatoes
If you want our opinion, the sweet potato is an all-around upgrade from the regular potato. It’s more flavorful, more colorful, and more nutrient-dense. Talk about a win-win-win. If you’re not quite sold yet, bear with us. Sweet potatoes contain more iron, calcium, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and complex carbohydrates than almost any other vegetable. That’s pretty ridiculous. They also contain a ton of fibre and potassium, as well as many other important nutrients. These are all necessary components of any diet, which makes a sweet potato basically some kind of nutritious health bomb. When eaten in moderation, sweet potatoes may improve your blood sugar regulation and reduce your risk of cancer. However, due to their high oxalate content, they may increase your risk of kidney stones, so, try not to overdo it. You can eat sweet potatoes pretty much any way you would a regular potato (although we might have to draw the line at scalloped sweet potatoes…). Bake them, boil them, mash them, or fry them, whatever your preference, you’ll find that they’re delicious no matter what.
4. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are how Popeye got so strong. Forcing your kids to down their leafy greens is Parenting 101, but you should remember to practice what you preach. There’s a very good reason why parents are always encouraging their kids to eat their greens: they’re highly nutritious. And, contrary to popular belief, if prepared correctly, they can be delicious, too. There are several different kinds of leafy greens out there so, odds are if one isn’t quite to your taste, another will be. Kale is one of the most popular these days. It’s up there with avocado in terms of “fad foods”. While it’s easy to laugh at people’s obsession with it, they’re not without reason. It’s high in antioxidants (are you tired of hearing about those yet?), as well as fibre, calcium, and iron. If you want to up your kale intake, but aren’t big on the flavor, consider adding it to a fruit smoothie. You get all the health benefits with almost none of the taste. The same can be done with spinach, another nutrient-dense leafy green, which also provides you with lots of fibre and several vitamins and minerals. Collard greens are also considered to be a superfood, as, like kale and spinach, they’re loaded with nutrients that offer all kinds of health benefits.
Are you vegan or vegetarian and looking to add another meat substitute to your repertoire? Or do you follow an omnivore diet and are looking to shake up some tired old recipes? Let us introduce you to your new best friend, the lentil. This legume is packed with fibre, protein, magnesium, and potassium. Lentils are a super versatile ingredient. They can be added to soups, stews, and salads, or can be roasted into a crunchy snack or blended into a dip or spread. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even use lentils to add an extra element of nutrition to your desserts. Lentil purees can be used in certain cake, cookie, or energy bar recipes, while lentil flour makes for a great gluten-free alternative to regular flour. And, as we said, there are a bunch of different ways in which you can use lentils as meat substitutes, for example, they can be used to replace the ground beef in a Bolognese sauce to go with your spaghetti. If you’re unsure where to start with lentils, there are a million and one recipes available online, so do a quick Google search and find what looks good to you.
Oatmeal is another food that has had a huge spike in popularity in recent years. People have gotten more health conscious and are looking to enhance their diets with whatever superfoods they can get their hands on. One of the biggest Instagram trends these days is people posting pictures of their overnight oats. For those of you who haven’t heard of this trend, it involves soaking oats overnight, then mixing them with whatever toppings strike your fancy in the morning. Almond milk, squares of dark chocolate, peanut butter, berries, and pretty much any fruit imaginable are all classic oatmeal toppings. While oatmeal on its own can be a little bland, especially if it’s prepared with water and not milk, adding your favorite toppings truly elevates it. Of course, you don’t have to get as fancy as the Instagram influencers do, just do whatever’s manageable for you. All that matters is that you think it tastes good; it doesn’t have to look like something off of the curated feed of an influencer with a million followers. Not only can oatmeal make for a wildly tasty breakfast, but, due to its high fibre content, it’s great for your cardiovascular health. Steel-cut oats take longer to cook than instant oatmeal, but they actually contain more fibre, and are therefore have slightly greater health benefits. Oh, and you won’t be surprised to hear that they’re also high in antioxidants, which, as we all know by now, are awesome for your health.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. How often have you heard that one? Old wives’ tale, or actual fact? The truth probably falls somewhere in between. Apples aren’t exactly a cure-all, and you don’t necessarily need to eat them every day, but there are actually advantages to eating them from time to time. They’re super high in antioxidants and may actually reduce your risk of developing certain chronic diseases. They may also lower your cholesterol levels and contribute to the prevention of heart disease. Additionally, replacing fruit juice with whole fruit has been shown to lower your risk of developing diabetes, so, consider swapping your apple juice for apple slices. The great thing about apples is that there are so many different varieties, each with different features, so you’re bound to find a kind that you like. Unsweetened apple sauce is also a good way to get your nutrients in. You also have the option of mixing your apples with other superfoods. Cubes of apple are delicious mixed into a kale or spinach salad, apple slices pair perfectly with almond butter, and you really can’t go wrong with apple and cinnamon oatmeal. Fruit is a key part of a balanced diet, and you can’t go wrong with apples.