Healthy foods are a part of healthy living. The world is full of delicious, nourishing foods just waiting to be devoured. Tons of information exists to tell you how to eat—add color, use the pyramid or the plate, eat small meals every two hours.
The following is a list of 15 healthy foods you should add to your diet. It’s a springboard for healthy living. They are sectioned off by type, so you can choose one section and add that, then move to the next section; or, you can do a 15-day challenge, picking one each day! The possibilities for making it fun are endless.
Spinach is packed with iron, a vital component of healthy red blood cells. It is also loaded with Vitamins and minerals. Lightly fry it with olive oil, use it in a salad, or mix it in a smoothie.
Substitute: Mustard Greens
Cauliflower is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants both of which help protect against cancer. Plus, it’s lower in calories than broccoli and has a lighter taste (though broccoli is higher in nutrients). It is great mashed, baked, or as an ingredient in casseroles, stir-fries, and soups.
One of the most nutrient-dense vegetables out there. It has benefits that protect eye health, help you lose weight, and is one of the best sources of Vitamin K in the world. Cook it like spinach but add a bit of garlic if you’re going to pan fry it in olive oil.
Substitute: Brussels sprouts
Proteins (for those who eat meat and those who don’t!)
4. Black Beans
Like most beans, black beans are high in protein and fiber. They also contain quercetin and saponins that keep the heart healthy and protected. Add to chilis, soups, and salads for an easy addition to your diet.
Substitute: Pinto Beans
Lentils are a magical food. They regulate blood sugar, are high in protein, increase energy, and protect the heart and your digestion. Eat them in soups, alone, or as a crunchy snack that replaces potato chips.
There are no substitutes for lentils. You should have these in your diet.
Another high-quality protein, almonds provide your body with the healthy fats it needs, plus copper, magnesium, and other nutrients that help ward off cancer and protect cardiovascular health.
Like the almond, avocado is a great source of the fats your body needs to be healthy. Plus, they have more potassium than bananas, are packed with fiber, and help lower your cholesterol.
Blueberries have the highest number of antioxidants of any fruit. They also have amazing effects on the immune system defending against viral infections by increasing the good cells that fight off the bad guys.
Grapefruit is a powerhouse citrus. It has tons of vitamins and minerals and has been shown to help with weight loss and insulin control.
Grains (for those not on a low/no grain diet)
10. Oats (Gluten-Free)
Oats are a nutrient dense food and one of the healthiest grains on earth. They are a good carb and fiber source and have many vitamins and minerals including 191% of the recommended daily intake of Manganese.
11. Quinoa (Gluten-Free)
Associated with the grains, but technically a seed, quinoa could easily fit into the protein category because it has more protein than any other grain. It’s also an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential in preventing heart disease.
Substitute: Brown Rice
12. Farro (Not Gluten-Free)
Farro is a great way to boost our complex carbohydrate intake while caring for your digestive system. This ancient grain is loaded with fiber and iron.
Dairy (for those not intolerant)
13. Greek Yogurt
Protein, protein, protein. Greek yogurt is one of those ways you can add more protein to your life. Make sure you buy it plain, so you avoid the hidden sugars and make it even healthier by adding fresh fruit to it.
14. Cottage Cheese
Yes, cottage cheese has protein, but its real star is the added calcium to your diet. You need calcium for bone and teeth health, but it can be difficult to get enough (unless you drink a lot of milk). Cottage cheese added to a salad or eaten alone boosts your intake so you can stay strong.
15. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The benefits of extra virgin olive oil are so numerous it would be difficult to name them all, so here are the most important ones: lowers bad cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation, minimizes cancer risk, decrease blood pressure, and improves blood sugar control.
Adding any one of these foods or food groups to your diet will have positive effects. Challenge yourself to continually increase your healthy foods, and soon you’ll be on your way to a wholesome, nutritious diet.