I hate the lists that health websites post about foods to eat every day or foods you should never put in your mouth. You know you’re going to eat that late night pizza every now and then. It’s a fact.
But I’m going to do something hypocritical and make one of those lists for you. Hopefully it will be a little different.
Here’s a list of a few of the hundreds of healthy foods out there that aren’t impossible to get or fit into your diet—ones with some extra pungent healthy goodness in them.
These berries are full of phytochemicals, antioxidants and flavanoids, not to mention fiber to help keep you full. They’re also low on the glycemic index scale, so they will keep your blood sugar in check. Here’s a spin on the classic oatmeal.
Omega-3s, selenium, Vitamins D and B-12 are all found in salmon. It’s also a great way to get a good dose of protein. Wild salmon is recommended for the most nutritional and health benefits with the least amount of chemicals and contaminants. Here’s a simple salmon recipe with cauliflower mash, a healthier take on mashed potatoes.
3. Leafy Greens
Think spinach, kale, swiss chard or that spring mix at the dining hall salad bar. Greens offer loads of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals for such a low-calorie food. Try thinking outside the salad bowl, and add them to smoothies or stir-fries. Maybe steam or sauté them for a side dish. This green smoothie is packed with healthy leaves.
4. Cruciferous Veggies
Fancy name, common vegetables. These include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Bok Choy and kale. Research suggests that these veggies may help reduce the growth of some cancer cells and free radicals. Broccoli has been known to aid in detoxification and to reduce inflammation. Try these veggies in stir-fries or breakfast hash.
5. Red Wine
Red wine contains resveratrol, which may have antioxidant properties that could help prevent blood clots and reduce cancer risk. One glass per day is recommended, but grape juice is a good substitute for non-drinkers.
These nuts give you a healthy dose of omega-3s in addition to minerals like copper and manganese. Walnuts may also help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Try them in this grain-free granola.
7. Green Tea
Antioxidants help rid the body of free radicals which reduces the risk for cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. In addition to antioxidants, green tea has caffeine, making it a perfect morning drink. Green tea powder, or matcha powder, can also be used in lattes, smoothies, or desserts.
Not only are avocados the most luxurious fruit, but they have more protein than any other. Plus they’re loaded with monounsaturated fats, which ease blood flow and blood pressure. They’re also loaded with folate, potassium, Vitamin E and the antioxidant lutein. And they’re super versatile—try ‘em in this Green Machine Smoothie, featuring some more super foods.
Oats have a great balance of carbs, protein and fiber, perfect for breakfast. Oats are also said to lower cholesterol, which can keep your heart healthy. Sick of plain oatmeal? Try this savory baked oatmeal skillet.
Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is loaded with probiotic bacteria, which is good for digestion. Opt for plain Greek yogurt to avoid added sugar; if you want extra sweetness, top your bowl with berries, homemade granola, or natural sweeteners like honey.
11. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are versatile and easy to sprinkle on anything from cereals and yogurt, or added to smoothies or salads. These seeds are tiny and full of fiber, antioxidants, minerals and protein. They’re also the biggest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Try adding them to liquids or yogurt and leaving it sit overnight for a delicious breakfast pudding.
12. Dark Chocolate (because every list should have chocolate on it.)
The antioxidants in dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure and ease blood flow. Many suggest enjoying about an ounce per day, although I know it’s hard to keep in moderation. Just know that when you’re indulging in dark chocolate, you’re doing your body good. Dark chocolate almond butter, anyone?