Your local pharmacy shelves are lined with colorful bottles containing vitamins and minerals in pill form. Grabbing a bottle of multivitamins from the store seems like an easy and painless way to get your daily dose of necessary nutrients. However, the vitamins and minerals your body obtains from fresh, whole foods are superior to those manufactured in a factory. Consuming wholesome foods provides your body with an array of essential nutrients as well as the fiber you need for good digestive health. Check out this list of delicious and nutritious foods that are better for your body than popping a multivitamin.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of chopped raw kale contains over 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Kale also contains vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. You can roast kale in your oven to make healthy kale chips, or try this recipe from Allrecipes for Chef John’s Raw Kale Salad. This recipe combines kale leaves with pistachios and cut persimmons, apples, and oranges. Rice vinegar, orange juice, Dijon mustard, cumin, and red pepper flakes make a tasty dressing.
A study in Nutrients suggests that lentils and kale provide the body with a complementary set of micronutrients and calories necessary to fight malnutrition. Cooked lentils provide vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. One cup of boiled lentils contains 37% of your daily value of iron, 18% of magnesium, 36% of phosphorus, and 49% of manganese. Furthermore, one cup of lentils contains 36% of your daily value of protein and 63% of your daily fiber requirement. Cookie and Kate has a recipe for Best Lentil Soup made with kale, lentils, carrots, onion, tomatoes, garlic, and spices.
Adding liver to your diet 1-2 times each week can provide many essential nutrients. An 81-gram slice of this organ meat provides more than 100% of your daily requirements of vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and copper. Other vital nutrients in liver are protein, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. Allrecipes has a recipe for Absolute Best Liver and Onions using liver, milk, Vidalia onions, flour, and butter. Meanwhile, Food Network has a recipe for Smothered Liver. To make this dish, you will first prepare a marinade of sherry wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic.
6. Red Bell Peppers
Colorful bell peppers are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. The red bell pepper, with its rich red hue, is the highest in carotenoids and vitamin C. One cup of chopped, raw, red sweet peppers contains over 300% of your daily value of vitamin C. Other nutrients included in this crunchy vegetable are vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, and manganese. The American Heart Association provides a recipe for Stuffed Peppers using onion, brown rice, tomatoes, garlic, and lean, ground turkey.
5. Salmon or Sardines
Sardines and salmon are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids essential for lowering cholesterol and maintaining good heart health. Furthermore, a 154-gram serving of wild-caught Atlantic salmon provides a high dose of niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and selenium. Meanwhile, one cup of bone-in, canned Atlantic sardines contains over 100% of your daily value of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and selenium. If you are wondering how to eat sardines, you may enjoy Bon Appetit’s recipe for Spicy Marinated Vegetables and Sardines on Toast. This recipe calls for carrots, shallots, a serrano chili pepper, and radishes.
These protein-packed gems often get a bad rap for the cholesterol they contain. However, when eaten in moderation, they provide many crucial nutrients. One large hard boiled egg provides many essential vitamins and minerals, including riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. You can include an egg in your diet by adding slices of a hard boiled egg to a salad, enjoying an egg white omelet for breakfast, or mixing up a hearty vegetable frittata. For a delicious twist on breakfast, try Pinch of Yum’s recipe for One Pot Spicy Eggs and Potatoes.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which is necessary for good digestion and maintaining a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Furthermore, these colorful root vegetables are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. One medium baked sweet potato provides over 100% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A. Other essential vitamins and minerals in this tasty vegetable include vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6. Roast chunks of sweet potato in the oven with a little olive oil and salt for a tasty side dish. Or, include sweet potato in your favorite vegetable soup or stew recipes.
For a sweet taste as well as a powerful punch of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, look no further than a bowl of blueberries. One cup of blueberries is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. For a wholesome, nutritious start to your day, make a fruity green smoothie. Blend frozen blueberries, a handful of spinach, a frozen banana, and the milk of your choice into a smoothie. For a refreshing afternoon snack, grab a handful of blueberries. You can also top your salads, oatmeal, or yogurt with these tasty gems.
Canned pumpkin is convenient, easy to use, and full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One cup of canned pumpkin provides more than 700% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A. Pumpkin also contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, and magnesium. The Seasoned Mom has a recipe for Healthy and Easy Pumpkin Soup. This recipe requires onion, garlic, ginger, cauliflower, vegetable broth, and pumpkin puree along with ½ cup of coconut milk. For a seasonal treat, try Food Network’s recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte using pumpkin puree.