The top 10 healthiest foods to add to your diet for amazing health
Would you like to improve your health, reduce your risk of chronic diseases or simply look and feel better? Then, this list is for you. However, to get the most nutrients these foods have to offer, buy organic as much as possible or go to the EWG’s website for a list of crops the most sprayed with pesticides and buy these organic instead.
If I could only live on 10 foods for the rest of my life, this is what they would be:
Often referred to as ‘‘fattening’’, almonds are actually great weight loss allies! The Nurses’ Health study, a 30-year research involving over 100,000 nurses, found that participants who consumed nuts were more likely to have and maintain a normal BMI compared to those who did not. Almonds are rich in the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and appear to protect against heart diseases. Plus these nuts contain a panoply of nutrients such as protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium and riboflavin.
This one has got a lot of bad press: you’ve probably heard that avocados are unhealthy because, come on; they contain so much fat — 14.7g of total fat per 100g of fruit to be precise! But, sadly, the often ignored fact is that avocados are packed with fiber, MUFAs and beta-sitosterol, components that have been shown to reduce total and LDL-cholesterol levels1. Moreover, avocados are rich in vitamins B and E, carotenoids and other antioxidants known to exert protective effects against prostate cancer and liver disease2.
Legumes, or otherwise known as beans — including kidney, red, black, white, navy, pinto, garbanzo, chickpeas and lentils — are fabulous sources of fiber, protein and antioxidants that can help lower risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers of the breast and prostate. Plus, they’ll top-up your intake of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron; minerals which are indispensable for a healthy immune system.
Much of their health benefits lie in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that not only give blueberries their deep-blue hue but may also reduce risks of chronic diseases and some cancers. Studies suggest that berries slow rate of cognitive decline3 and can also curb obesity by inducing the breakdown of fat cells4. Low in calories but rich in fiber and vitamins, blueberries make amazing snacks that promote healthy ageing by keeping cells healthy.
Due to its cancer-fighting nutrients (indoles and sulforaphane), broccoli is a celebrity in the nutrition world. Moreover, only one cup of broccoli will help you meet your daily requirements for Vitamin C and will provide a generous dose of the vision-protecting Vitamin A and lutein. And 1 cup of steamed broccoli contains 20% of the calcium content of 245ml of milk! In order to preserve broccoli’s nutritional wonders, steam it instead of boiling.
I love my morning eggs. And no, eggs will not increase your risk of heart disease. So, go ahead and enjoy whole eggs. Did you know that the wrongfully accused egg yolk contains MUFAs? And yolks are rich in choline, important for brain health and carotenoids that protect the eyes from macular degeneration.
7. Leafy greens
Spinach, cabbage, kale, bok choy and other leafy veggies are rich in folate, iron, calcium and vitamin K —nutrients that positively influence cardiovascular and bone health. Leafy greens also contain magnesium, a mineral that is essential for health: it protects the heart and the kidneys; regulates blood sugar levels; helps the body convert glucose into energy and keeps anxiety and insomnia at bay.
8. Oily fish
You probably know that salmons, trout, mackerel, herrings, sardines and anchovies are the omega-3 kings. These fatty acids protect the heart and the nervous system; offer some relief to those suffering from arthritis; may help decrease insulin resistance and are involved in eye health. Plus these fish are great sources of protein.
I know that wild fish is more expensive but the extra dollars are totally worth it. That’s because farmed fish, which are fed with grains (SO not their natural food), contain much less omega-3 and way more contaminants compared to wild ones.
This unusual fruit contains a chock-full of potassium, vitamins C and B5 and several antioxidants shown to reduce both blood pressure and plaque build-up in the arteries. And the fruit’s seeds are packed with ellagic acid, a phytonutrient that inhibits cancer-cell growth.
10. Sweet potatoes
This starchy carbohydrate is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber — one has a filling effect and the other, being indigestible, promotes gut health. Sweet potatoes are also loaded with cancer-fighting vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and folate.
Try to include at least one of these foods in your daily diet. Along with eating healthy food, make sure to get plenty of exercise and keep your stress in check. This will help contribute to your overall health and wellness.
1. Al-Dosari MS (2011) Hypolipidemic and antioxidant activities of avocado fruit pulp on high cholesterol fed diet in rats. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 5(12):1475-1483
2. Lu QY, Arteaga JR, Zhang Q, Huerta S, Go VL, Heber D (2005) Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: Role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances. J. Nutr Biochem 16: 23-30
3. Devore, EE, Jae HK, Breteler MB, Grodstein F (2012) “Dietary Intakes of Berries and Flavonoids in Relation to Cognitive Decline.” Annals of Neurology 72(1): 135–143
4. Research presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting for the American Society for Nutrition on April 10.
5. Huang et al. (2012) Correlation of magnesium intake with metabolic parameters, depression and physical activity in elderly type 2 diabetes patients: a cross-sectional study. Nutrition Journal 11:41