Healthful foods make you feel great and give you energy, improving your health and boosting your mood. A healthful diet generally includes a variety of fruits and vegetables of many colors, whole grains, good fats, and lean protein. Below are the top foods considered to be the most healthy (in no particular order), according to sources across the United States and Western Europe. How many of these foods do you eat?
- Almonds. Almonds are rich in nutrients, including vitamin E, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium and riboflavin. It contains more fibre than any other tree nut, an
d helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Walnuts. A great source of omega-3 fats, walnuts also provide almost twice as many antioxidant polyphenols as almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans. Walnuts also contain iron, selenium, calcium, zinc, vitamin E and some B vitamins.
- Brazil nuts. These nuts are rich in protein and are excellent sources of thiamine, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. They contain one of the highest amounts of selenium in any food. Selenium is a key nutrient for maintaining thyroid health.
- Lentils. A staple in many parts of the world including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, lentils are a good source of B vitamins, iron and potassium. Not only do they provide protein, but they’re also rich in fibre and phytochemicals which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
- Oatmeal. Oats are rich in complex carbohydrates and water-soluble fibre, which slows down digestion and stabilizes blood glucose levels. Oatmeal is rich in B vitamins, folate and potassium. Choose the coarse or steel-cut oats which contain more fibre than instant varieties.
- Broccoli. This dark green vegetable is rich in fibre, calcium, potassium, folateand phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds that reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Broccoli also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene and sulforaphane, a sulphur-rich compound that has anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits.
- Kale. This dark leafy green vegetable is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Just like broccoli, it contains loads of vitamins and minerals- including beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K- as well as phytonutrients and sulforaphane.
- Blueberries. These berries are rich in fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients.A study carried out at Harvard Medical School found that older adults who eat plenty of blueberries (and strawberries) are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline compared with other people of their age who do not. The anthocyanins found in blueberries can also help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
- Avocados. Rich in healthy fats, B vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamin E and fibre, avocados can help lower blood cholesterol levels. Researchers from Ohio State University found that nutrients taken from avocados were able to stop oral cancer cells, and even destroy some of the pre-cancerous cells.
- Sweet potatoes. This fibre-rich vegetable is rich in beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and antioxidants. Studies have found that antioxidants in purple sweet potatoes promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including certain Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species.
- Top healthy protein sources include deep water oily fish, organic chicken and organic, omega-3 eggs.
There are many other healthful foods not mentioned in this article. Remember, the key is to eat a variety of natural, unprocessed, whole foods. Prepare more of your own meals, avoid unhealthy/ processed foods and keep hydrated with water.
Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps adults and children eat better and stay healthy. She is in charge of the “Boost Your Child’s Health” program at OT&P clinic and the “Be Your Best” weight loss program at IMI clinic.