We’ve all heard it before. Make good food choices and exercise daily – these are the keys to good health and longevity. And it’s true. The problem is many of us unconsciously (and consciously) resist that lifestyle and walk toward the most sought after and addicting legal drug on the market. Yep, you guessed it – sugar.
Rather than lecture you on the gazillion reasons why not to ingest processed sugar, which I’m sure you’ve heard many times over, let’s talk about what you should be eating and why.
Following is a list of 27 foods that can greatly improve your energy level, vitality, and ability to concentrate while lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer among many other health benefits.
Almonds: Almonds are rich in protein (like other tree nuts). They also contain monounsaturated fat which is healthy for the heart and may lower LDL cholesterol. Eat in moderation.
Apples: Most of us have heard that an apple a day keeps the doc away. It turns out there’s something to that. High in pectin, a fiber that clears cholesterol, apples are a great snack choice. Let’s not forget their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components.
Avocados: Avocados are a great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. That’s quite a resume. Once sliced, sprinkle with lemon juice and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to reduce oxidation (browning).
Bananas: Loaded in potassium, banana benefits should not go unnoticed. Potassium aids in proper digestive function and keeps that blood pressure in check!
Black Beans: Vegetarians rave over this high protein meat substitute. They are also high in fiber keeping your body feeling full and energized. Wait, don’t flip the page yet. Black beans also contain some omega fatty acids and are high in phytochemical anthocyanins. What is that you ask? Studies show that anthocyanin is good for cardiovascular health and contains anti-cancer agents and antioxidants.
Blueberries: Like black beans, these blue babies also contain phytochemical anthocyanins They also support the urinary tract, memory, and contain plenty of vitamins C and E.
Broccoli: Not only is broccoli high in fiber which reduces risk of heart disease and keeps blood pressure down, but it contains anti-cancer agents and raises immunity. Go green!
Brussels Sprouts: A vegetable only a mother could love. And there’s a good reason she loves them. Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates, which may lower the risks of stomach, lung, breast and prostate cancer. I’m sure you can learn to love these little guys in time. Right, mom?
Bulgur: What? You’ve never heard of bulgur? Well let me tell you! Bulgar is a whole grain that keep blood-sugar levels… well… level. Why is that important? When blood sugar levels are high, the body alerts the pancreas who in turn deploys the insulin army in order to bring the sugar levels back down. So, what’s the big deal? Insulin is a fat making hormone. Need I say more?
Chia Seeds: Can you say OMEGA-3 fatty acids? Chia seeds are loaded with ‘em! Sprinkle them on your salads, oatmeal, smoothies…
Dark Chocolate: “Are you serious? Chocolate is good for me? Woohoo! Okay, what’s the catch?” No catch. Dark chocolate contains a large amount of flavonol which is an antioxidant. Plus, curbing those urges with a little treat now and then may keep a binge at bay. Tip: Don’t eat the entire box.
Eggplant: Big purple is loaded with fiber and vitamin B. Try it, but please… don’t fry it.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Yes, there are oils that are actually good for you. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol. Why extra virgin? Because it isn’t overly refined meaning it contains more antioxidants. Olive oil also carries anti-inflammatory agents. Put down the lard and grab a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil. Your heart will thank you and so will your hips.
Flaxseed: These little guys are great for heart health as they contain the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. They’re also a good source of protein. You’ll want to grind them and keep them in the refrigerator for maximum benefit.
Kale: The big K could save the day! Rich in fiber, cancer-fighting agents, and antioxidants, they’re also a great source of vitamin K which aids is cell growth and blood clotting.
Kidney Beans: Great in salads, kidney beans are rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, iron and are a good source of protein. Let’s not forget about the antioxidants.
Lentils: Great news. This bean is missing the gas producing component found in most beans. Think of the money you’ll save on air fresheners! Plus, lentils are full of protein, fiber, and iron.
Pumpkin: No they’re not just for carving scary faces, we actually eat them. Pumpkin is full of fiber, vitamin A and yes, you guessed it… beta carotene. Beta carotene aids in the prevention of heart disease.
Quinoa: Your one stop shop – or food rather. This whole grain is a complete protein so not only are you getting the benefit of a whole grain (fiber, reduced risks of heart disease and diabetes), but you’re also aiding in speeding up your metabolism and building muscle.
Red Wine: “Okay, first chocolate and now wine? I know what I’m doing this weekend!” Slow down a little, Skippy. Although wine contains resveratrol which has been linked to lower risks of heart disease and diabetes, how many glasses of wine it requires to reap these benefits is up for debate. However one glass a day is thought to provide some benefit, both in its chamomile like affect and resveratrol content. Of course, if you’re not of legal age or have other reasons for not consuming alcohol, try substituting it with a glass of sparkling mineral water and organic grape juice.
Salmon (Wild): Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, salmon has been linked to protecting from memory loss and other brain aging. Think pink.
Spinach: Slow metabolism? Computer got your eyes? High in fiber, iron, calcium and vitamin A, spinach helps keep our skin vibrant and healthy and contributes to better vision. Did I mention it speeds up the metabolism. Burn fat, burn!
Steel Cut Oatmeal: These oats do not contain additives and are very lightly processed. Rich in vitamin B, fiber and antioxidants, a small bowl of this muscle building mush each morning will get the day started right. Add a little raw honey and cinnamon to it for more flavor and extra health benefits.
Sweet Potatoes: This sweet cousin of the russet is full of potassium which may reduce the risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure. Bake it and top it with a little fat-free Greek yogurt and chives. Who knew?
Tomatoes: You say tomato, I say – wow look at that long list of nutrients! Vitamins A, K, and C just to mention a few. Let us not forget its extra benefit of antioxidants.
Tuna: When used in moderation, this fish is very beneficial as it is full of vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t overdo it however, It’s also known for its high mercury content.
Walnuts: Walnuts have more antioxidant components than other nuts and contain monounsaturated fat (healthy fat) and omega-3 fatty acids. This nut is just crazy enough to win your heart.
The United States has the highest obesity rate in the world, and we also lead in diseases and other illnesses. Amazingly, most of them can be avoided or cured by making better food choices. Yes, the pharmaceutical companies. the medical industry and the food industry get wealthier and wealthier because of our bad food choices.
By incorporating foods from this list into your daily diet and dumping the sugar and processed foods, you will feel like a brand new person within no time. I guarantee it.
If you’re a chronic bad eater and are seeking to transition into a healthy lifestyle, go slowly. The last thing we want is to cause a feeling of lack or deprivation for that often leads to binging. Start slowly by adding some of these healthy foods to your diet. Don’t worry about eliminating anything yet. Just add. Elimination will happen naturally as you continue to add more healthy foods.
There is a far greater number of healthy food choices than those listed here, however these foods give you a strong foundation to work from and are at the top of the healthy foods list. Bon appétit!