Providing your body with the nutrients in wholesome, unprocessed foods helps keep you running at peak performance. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland or boring, as so many nutrient-packed choices are also flavorful, beautiful, and fun to eat. The American Heart Association encourages you to “eat the rainbow” by including a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet. Aside from just seeking out colorful produce choices, here are 11 tasty foods that you should strive to include in your diet each day.
Berries are amazing little nutrient powerhouses. Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, they provide your body with crucial nourishment. Furthermore, they deliver sweet flavor without a lot of calories. One cup of fresh blueberries provides you with 24% of your daily vitamin C requirements, as well as 36% of your daily vitamin K needs. At only 84 calories, that same cup of blueberries also delivers 14% of your daily value of fiber. Additionally, the antioxidants that berries contain help protect your cells against the oxidative stress of free radicals in your body.
Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They are rich in fiber, keep you feeling full longer, and help prevent the mood swings that accompany dips in blood sugar. You can enjoy beans in hearty soups and stews, such as Cookie and Kate’s recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup. Chickpeas can be blended into a tasty hummus and enjoyed with veggie sticks, pita chips, or slathered onto a sandwich. Additionally, you can turn chickpeas into a crunchy, savory snack by roasting them in the oven.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables. These veggies are rich in fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds may reduce your risk of cancer and decrease your risk of heart disease. Many cruciferous vegetables can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. You may enjoy a tasty snack of broccoli and cauliflower dipped in hummus. Meanwhile, oven-roasted Brussels sprouts make a flavorful side dish or appetizer.
8. Coffee or Tea
In the past, coffee has gotten a bad rap for its caffeine content. However, the American Heart Association now reports that drinking coffee may decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. The antioxidants in coffee and tea may protect your body against cellular damage. Meanwhile, drinking these beverages provides your body with the hydrating benefits of the water they contain. As if these benefits weren’t enough, a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that drinking coffee may help protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Leafy Greens
Dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are packed with the nutrients that give them superfood status. These veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and manganese. They are also good sources of fiber, which keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Of course, leafy greens are also full of heart-healthy, immunity-boosting antioxidants. Whether you start your morning with a green smoothie, indulge in a lunchtime salad, or end the day with a side of sautéed greens, you can’t go wrong with these veggies.Related: 20 Vegetables and Plants That Pack a Punch of Protein
6. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Consumed in moderation, these little gems can decrease your risk of heart disease and provide the protein necessary for energy. Although nuts contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, overindulging can contribute to weight gain. Treat yourself to one handful of nuts each day, or enjoy them on salads, yogurt, or oatmeal. Seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are also healthy components of a nutritious diet.
5. Oatmeal or Other Whole Grains
Whole grains contain the fiber your body needs to keep food moving properly through your digestive tract. They also deliver critical nutrients while helping to keep your tummy feeling full and satisfied. Start your day off with a bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh berries, a few nuts, and a splash of almond milk. You may also enjoy a slice of whole wheat bread topped with avocado or nut butter. Try wrapping up chicken salad, fresh greens, and cut grapes in a whole wheat tortilla for a delicious lunchtime treat.
4. Olive Oil
Rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats, olive oil may help lower your bad cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. Olive oil is a staple of the plant-based Mediterranean diet associated with both heart health and longevity. You can use olive oil in a tasty vinaigrette, drizzle it over vegetables before roasting them, or utilize it when making a stir fry. You may enjoy a fresh salad topped with this Best Lemon Vinaigrette recipe from Allrecipes.Related: Is Coconut Oil Actually Good for You?
Skip the salt and try a variety of spices to flavor your food. Some spices offer specialized health benefits. For example, turmeric is a spice which may help to fight inflammation. You can enjoy the benefits of turmeric in dishes such as Edward Lee’s Turmeric Chicken and Rice or a bowl of curry soup. Meanwhile, cinnamon is another spice that is rich in antioxidants. You can sprinkle cinnamon into your coffee, add it to a batch of homemade granola, or stir it into a bowl of heart-healthy oatmeal.
Water may not be a food exactly, but it is a crucial element of your daily menu. Staying properly hydrated keeps your organs functioning, your skin supple, and your digestion on track. If you find it difficult to choke down plain water, try adding a squeeze of lemon or a splash of fruit juice. Milk, coffee, and tea are also hydrating beverages that provide your body with the benefits of water. Fruits and vegetables such as romaine lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, and celery are high in water content and add to your daily water intake.
1. Dark Chocolate
A bite of dark chocolate can lift your mood, tantalize your taste buds, and provide heart benefits. Today’s Dietician recommends consuming chocolate containing at least 60% cacao in order to receive the most antioxidant benefits. Limit yourself to servings less than one ounce in size to prevent consuming excess fat and calories. You may enjoy allowing a square of dark chocolate to melt on your tongue while sipping a soothing cup of tea. Additionally, adding a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder to a banana smoothie creates a delicious, chocolatey treat.Related: Constipated Avoid These 12 Things