Eating healthy is a critical step towards disease prevention and maintaining an appropriate weight. In fact, many health and nutrition experts agree that practicing good nutrition can have a larger impact than exercise. Even though it is still important to get enough physical activity in, hitting the gym won’t have the effect most are looking for if a person’s diet is poor.
However, many struggle when it comes to knowing what foods to eat and how to incorporate good foods into an existing diet. Fortunately, there are several foods that can be added to recipes and provide multiple health benefits. Some of these foods are known as “superfoods,” meaning they provide multiple benefits at once or provide superior systemic benefits, such as a high level of antioxidants.
Fruits and Vegetables
It’s no secret that many fruits and vegetables provide superior health benefits. Doctors and nutritionists are even discovering more advantages to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, including switching to a plant-based diet. Yet, some vegetables and fruits stand out for their excellent nutritional qualities.
One of those vegetables is spinach. It can be made as a salad or cooked and added to a tasty omelet. Spinach is known for providing calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and folate.
Another great and versatile vegetable is black beans. These beans provide iron and antioxidants. Black beans also come packed with large amounts of fiber, which can help with digestion and make someone feel fuller for longer. This can lead to a decrease in the amount of overall calories and reduce hunger pains.
Beets are a good vegetable for lowering blood pressure and keeping it at healthy levels. Beets are also high in Vitamin C and magnesium. These nutrients can boost a person’s immune system and even help relieve headaches.
Avocados are extremely versatile, as they can be consumed alone, added to salads and dips, or used in place of mayonnaise on a sandwich. Avocados are high in fiber and monounsaturated fats. This means someone will feel fuller faster and be satiated at the same time. Avocados can help balance cholesterol levels and are thought to prevent fat accumulation in the abdomen area.
Raspberries and blueberries are packed with antioxidants. These berries also contain some amounts of fiber and vitamins that can help ward off disease. Berries can be added to other foods, such as cereal, yogurt, protein pancakes, and fruit salads.
Lentils belong to the same family as beans, but provide a high amount of protein and fiber. They can be added to soups or used as a meat substitute. Lentils can help make someone feel fuller faster and regulate blood sugar levels. Those who are insulin sensitive or borderline diabetic can reap benefits from consuming lentils.
Lemons and other citrus fruits can provide high amounts of Vitamin C, helping to boost the immune system. However, these fruits are also thought to help keep cancer cells at bay. They also provide a high amount of antioxidants, which can help reduce systemic inflammation.
Some of the world’s spices and flavorings can not only taste great, but come packed with health benefits. Garlic and ginger are some of those. Although garlic is more well-known, ginger can help relieve indigestion and stomach ailments.
Minced ginger recipes are some of the ways to incorporate more ginger into a person’s diet. Besides helping alleviate stomach problems and nausea, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, can help alleviate muscle soreness, and lower blood sugar. Ginger has also been used to aid in the prevention of heart disease, since its anti-inflammatory effects can prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Garlic has been used for many years to help prevent disease. Its properties help prevent the growth of bacteria. It can also lower cholesterol levels and keep blood pressure in check.
Cinnamon is another healthy spice that can lower blood sugar. Although it is best known on treats such as cinnamon rolls, it is best consumed as an additive or flavor to oatmeal, yogurt, or healthy chili. The spice can also reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides. This goes a long way towards heart disease prevention and is also beneficial for those with high blood sugar levels or diabetes.
Turmeric is a popular spice that is commonly added to Indian foods and meals. The spice has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can even reduce inflammation in the brain. This reduction helps guard against diseases like Alzheimer’s and depression.
Cumin is yet another spice that is often added to Indian dishes. It can help reduce inflammation in the joints, alleviating pain from arthritis. Some studies have also linked cumin to a reduction in cancerous tumors and the development of cancer cells.
Treats and Sweets
A healthy diet would not be any fun without some level of indulgence. Fortunately, there are several sweets and treats that can also provide surprising health benefits. Dark chocolate is one of the top healthiest foods on the planet and it tastes great.
The benefits of dark chocolate include a high level of antioxidants that fight against a broad range of diseases. In fact, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than many fruits and fruit juices. Dark chocolate can also reduce inflammation in the body, guard against heart disease, and elevate a person’s mood.
When consumed in moderation, red wine is thought to produce several health benefits in the body. First and foremost, it can protect against heart disease and keep blood sugar levels in check. It is important to only consume the recommended amounts of alcohol though, as excessive consumption can produce harmful effects such as unwanted weight gain, intoxication, and problems with the liver.
Consuming a healthy diet does not have to be boring or taste bland. With several healthy and superfoods available for mixing and matching in several recipes, you can experiment and have fun. This list of healthy foods is not all that’s out there, as these are only some of the great ways to start a journey towards better nutrition.