Eating well is about knowing the facts of how your body interacts with the food you’re eating. Being healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, some of the healthiest foods you should be eating more of are probably already in your refrigerator right now. These superfoods are nutritional powerhouses delivering a range of benefits to strengthen your body. See how many of these 13 superfoods are in your pantry:
The Lean, Mean Green Machines
- Spinach: High in vitamins A, C, and E, spinach also has folic acid, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Spinach also supplies your body with two important antioxidants1, lutein and zeaxanthin, that contribute to eye health. For mothers-to-be, spinach offers folate2, a B vitamin that assists in helping produce DNA and form healthy new cells.
- Broccoli: Similar to spinach, broccoli contains lots of vitamin C, A, and K2. As a cancer-fighting superfood, broccoli delivers sulforaphane, which stimulates the body’s detoxifying enzymes2. Steaming broccoli3
- is a good way to get the most of this compound.
- Avocadoes: Yes, they’re high in fat – but the good kind of fat capable of lowering your cholesterol by 22%1. Just one of these has about half the fiber and folate you need in a day!
Proteins With a Punch
- Black Beans: Good plant-based sources of protein aren’t easy to come by, but black beans more than qualify. Just ½ cup gives 8 grams of protein4, while also staying low in calories. Beans in general give you a good serving of soluble fiber2, which helps reduce cholesterol, and iron. Hint: Eating beans with foods high in vitamin C2 will help your body absorb more iron.
- Greek Yogurt: This specific type of yogurt is a champion in two categories: protein and probiotics [potential link to 310 not-yet-published probiotics article]. The fermentation process allows thousands of healthy bacteria to grow4 in the yogurt; eating it helps your digestion tremendously. When it comes to protein, just one serving of Greek yogurt offers around 10 grams5, alongside good portions of calcium and zinc2.
- Salmon: Famously high in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon helps prevent diseases ranging from depression to heart disease to cancer. With high levels of niacin, salmon has also been linked to preventing Alzheimer’s and age-related memory loss1. Eating more fish is a smart idea for your health!
- Garlic: You either love it or you hate it, but garlic has undeniable antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral capabilities3. Most of this is due to the sulfur in garlic, which offers your body heart-healthy benefits. Eating a clove of garlic a day can cut your risk of certain types of cancer in half.
- Cinnamon: This tasty spice is powerfully anti-bacterial, capable of defending the body against bacteria as strong as E. Coli. It’s also well known as an anti-inflammatory agent. One of the best benefits, though is cinnamon’s effect on cholesterol3: just ¼ teaspoon a day could cut your triglyceride and total cholesterol levels by up to 30%!
Grains, Nuts, and Seeds
- Walnuts: This powerful nut has a range of benefits. While all nuts are healthy, walnuts in particular have omega-3 fatty acids4, anti-inflammatory properties, and lots of protein. All this means walnuts are a great way to improve your heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels2. They even contain melatonin1, an antioxidant that aids in healthy sleep.
- Flaxseed: This tiny seed delivers high quantities of fiber to your diet, but what really makes flaxseed so awesome is the lingans in it. These effect estrogen in the body, and ultimately reduce risk for hormone-related cancers3. Just make sure you only eat ground flaxseed; whole seeds can’t be digested by the human body and you’ll miss out on all the benefits.
- Oats: well-known as a cholesterol-fighting food, oats add to their impressive soluble fiber content 10 grams of protein4 in every ½ cup, balancing out the carbs.
- Blueberries: You’ve heard about blueberries’ reputation for being a powerful antioxidant. How accurate is this statement? One study3 proved blueberries contained more antioxidants than 40 other fruits tested. Among other things, these antioxidants help protect your body from heart disease, age-related blindness and memory issues5, and prevent urinary tract infections. An added benefit is they are low on the glycemic scale, meaning your blood sugar won’t spike as much after eating them.
- Sweet potatoes: Ridiculously high in vitamin A, sweet potatoes give your immune system an incredible boost. With eight times1 the daily-recommended amount of this vitamin, you’ll also be keeping your eyes and bones healthy.
Now tally up your score – how many of these are in your kitchen right now? Knowing the health benefits each offers, go ahead and up the amount you already eat! Many of these foods are extremely versatile, tasting delicious as salad toppers, oatmeal additions, protein shake add-ons, or stand-alone snacks. Which one will you eat today?