March is National Nutrition Month and a great time to evaluate how well you eat. Millions of people swear on January 1st to eat healthier in the New Year. National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to revisit those resolutions. It’s been two months – are you really eating healthier?
Merely deciding to eat healthfully is very different than doing the research and habit-breaking that healthy eating requires. So, this March, we’re serving up the top seven foods you should eat daily, according to science. Add these seven foods to your nutritious diet, and by the end of the year, you’ll have the health and vitality you deserve, instead of your food sucking the energy out of you.
Seven Most Nutritious Foods You Should Eat Daily
Blueberries are the true superfood of the berry world, not acai or other obscure fruit we can’t find at the grocery store. A true superfood should be one of superior nutrition, but also easily accessible. Blueberries are chock full of essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins C, K, A, and B-6, as well as magnesium, manganese, iron, and others. Not only that, they are a rich source of antioxidants, which reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases of cell damage.
Mix blueberries with other delicious berries like raspberries and strawberries to take advantage of the diverse nutrient profiles. Add them to your oatmeal, yogurt, or just eat them out of a bowl to get these delicious bites daily!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Apples, like blueberries, are full of vitamins and minerals, plus another class of antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative stress. They are available year-round in just about every grocery store, and there are tons of varieties for you and your kids to find the taste you like.
Apples are a simple superfood to eat – just rinse and bite! Apple slices are an excellent option for school snacks as well. While raw is best, cooked apples can make a delicious, yet healthful dessert. As a final warning, though, avoid apple juice – it is mostly sugar with the fiber and nutrients stripped out.
Broccoli and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts are another class of ultra-healthy foods. Broccoli boasts an impressive nutrition profile, including high amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, and vitamins C, A, and K.
Broccoli is also one of the most accessible veggies – it is on almost any restaurant menu, and graces fresh produce and frozen food aisles in every grocer. Steam it in the bag, then toss it with some butter and garlic or make your own cheese sauce on the stove with cream and shredded cheddar. Even kids will eat broccoli like this!
Avocados have healthy potassium, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, and other great phytonutrients, but they also pack a healthy dose of monounsaturated fat. This fat is different than omega 3 or omega 6, which are polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are the healthy fats found in olive oil and are a staple in the Mediterranean style of healthy eating.
What makes avocados so super, though, is how satisfying they are. Monounsaturated fats found in avocados are long-chain fatty acids, which digest more slowly and help you feel satisfied. Avocados are a great addition to a meal that is naturally low-fat, such as a salad. Try our Chicken Avocado Salad recipe!
5. Raw Mixed Nuts
Nuts are nutritional powerhouses. They are full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated omegas 3 and 6. Nuts also feature a long list of vitamins and minerals, but in the last few decades, nuts have gotten a bad rap due to their high-fat content and therefore high calorie count. Don’t be afraid of them! They are full of good, healthy fat.
Each nut has a slightly different nutrient profile, and mixed nuts are the best way to take advantage of the health benefits. Eat them straight out of the container or add them to raisins, cacao nibs and granola for a healthy trail mix.
Many new diets (paleo, Whole 30, and others) have eliminated beans from their programs based on the idea that they contain chemicals that inhibit proper absorption of nutrients. These claims are missing scientific evidence and shouldn’t be shunned based on flimsy ideas. Beans contain protein and a lot of fiber. If you’re not used to eating so much fiber beans might give you gas. However, gas is not an excuse to avoid fiber-rich foods. We need fiber to be healthy, and most people don’t get enough. If you still have doubts about beans, I suggest you read Dr. Michael Greger’s article about the benefits of beans and other legumes.
Beans are also incredibly versatile. You can have beans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. Black beans, pinto beans, or refried beans go well with eggs for breakfast or taco salad for lunch or dinner. Kidney beans pair well with whole grain rice for a Cajun feel or dip a pita chip into a bowl of tasty hummus. The bean recipe possibilities are almost endless!
7. Leafy Greens
There are many types of leafy greens to add to your daily intake. Some grow in heads like iceberg lettuce, some come in bunches like romaine, and others are attached to vegetables, like beet greens or carrot leaves. Even dandelion leaves are edible, although I haven’t built up the courage to pick them out of my yard and add them to my salad.
Like beans and nuts, each leafy green has a different nutrient profile. But each one has a myriad of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that our bodies need. Some greens have a mild flavor, some have a stronger flavor. The key is to start eating the greens you like every day. Start with mild greens such as iceberg lettuce or romaine and work your way up to more nutritious greens with bold flavors such as spinach and kale. Every bite of greens boosts your health tremendously!
Eating healthy today is difficult. There are so many easy and cheap food options that leave our bodies devoid of the nutrients we need. Add in these seven most nutritious foods, and you will find you crave less and less of the high-calorie, low-nutrient foods you are used to eating. The side effects are less illness, increased energy, and maybe even longer, healthier life. Start today – you and your family are worth it!