We all know the benefits of incorporating more fruits and veggies in our diets, but sometimes we need a little help actually doing that. It’s pretty much common sense that a diet full of lean meat and plant-based foods can ward off a plethora of diseases, increase your energy and keep your weight in check. So just in case you needed a fresh reminder of some ways to incorporate healthier foods in your diet, I’ve complied a list of five great ones that I eat on a regular (sometimes daily) basis, and you should too.
This is a nutritional superstar. It’s a little bitter, so I suggest to never eat it plain. I throw it into my daily “green drink” that consists of a lot of fruit and also a handful of spinach. Kale provides more than a daily serving on Vitamin K (which isn’t always easy to get sufficient amounts of), Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which has been known to contain flavinoids (and other things with very scientific names) that help combat cancer.
These are my favorite. I eat a lot of blueberries everyday in my oatmeal for breakfast and throw some in plain Greek yogurt for my afternoon snack. They’re among the healthiest fruits, primarily because of their color. The pigments that give blueberries their color are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients. They’re a “low glycemic” carb, which means they can help control blood sugar, and can satisfy a sweet tooth. Blueberries have a lot of fiber and there’s some evidence that they improve memory and reduce your risk for cancer.
I LOVE avocados. I eat about a half of one on most days of the week. For the longest time, I never would try them because the color grossed me out. But a friend convinced me to try guacamole, and after that, I was hooked. I always heard that avocados had a high fat content (which they do), and therefore, should be eaten only sparingly. What we know now is that the fat in avocados is actually GOOD for us and can help keep weight off!! First of all, it’s actually a fruit, but isn’t sweet. This little gem is also full of nutrients like Vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E. It contains folate and potassium. And it’s full of the “good fat” which makes us feel full; note that this “good fat” can lower cholesterol levels. The avocado is one of the most natural fattiest foods on the planet, but the monounsaturated fats, while calorie-dense, provide a plethora of health benefits.
- Black Beans
No, they’re not a fruit or vegetable, but the black bean is a nutritional rock star. I don’t eat a lot of meat, so this is my go-to when I need a vegetarian-friendly protein source. They’re full of protein, fiber, iron and antioxidants. I eat them in enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos and I always get an extra helping in my burrito bowl at Chipotle. I also heat them on the stove, mash them up, throw in some butter, cumin and garlic cloves, and voila! A healthier version of refried beans. I also LOVE black bean soup… I eat that several times a week.
Yes, we all know that broccoli is one of the best things you can eat. And, it’s what can be considered an “acquired taste.” Which means, it’s not that tasty. But, once I learned how healthy it is, I forced myself to like it. And now, I steam it and have it as a side dish at dinner almost every night. I cut up the florets and throw them in with carrots (another superfood) and steam for 5-7 minutes… just enough to make them soft, but not mushy. Put a tablespoon of butter in the hot veggies, and you have edible, almost delicious broccoli! This cruciferous veggie (like kale) has tons of phytonutrients that fight many forms of cancer. Broccoli has a lot of vitamins and fiber too, but I primarily eat it for the well-documented cancer-fighting properties.
So there you have it… those are my super foods that I consume just about daily. Of course, there are lots more. Almost every fruit, vegetable and plant-based food can be considered a “super food.” So try my favorites, or not, but just make sure to eat as many fruits and veggies every day!