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Are you tired all the time? Maybe you’re trying to lose weight? Or perhaps you just feel inspired to eat better! Eating healthy is great, but a lot of times we don’t always know where to start. It can seem daunting with so much information on the web. Reaching for a donut is easy, but there’s a lot to be said about eating correctly. Your brain and your body are literally comprised of the things you put into them and even in a society full of multivitamins and vitamin drinks, we can still end up vitamin deficient should we not be putting the right fuel into our bodies because experts suggest that vitamins and supplements are no substitute for eating correctly. Your body is an elaborate vehicle that needs care. Exercise is great, but without the right nutrients, you may fall flat on your goals for your body. Here is a list of some of the healthiest foods, their nutritional benefits, and ideas on how you could incorporate them into your diet so that you can look great and feel great!
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” goes the old saying. This may not be entirely true, but what is true is that they are loaded with antioxidants which help to fight free radicals (which are unstable atoms that can damage healthy cells in the body). Packed with vitamin C, they are a great way to give your immune system a boost. A Florida State University study found that apples lowered cholesterol when eaten daily—so perhaps there is some truth to the old saying! You may try apples in your oatmeal (a great source of fiber and B vitamins), or perhaps you’d like to try this delicious breakfast recipe for some apple peanut butter overnight oats!
Lentils are a small legume packed with protein and vitamins. Legumes are members of the pea family, and this pint-sized pea relative you’ll want to eat every day of the week! They are one of the most fiber-rich foods out there, and just one cup provides 63 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake. Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, making it a valuable nutrient for controlling blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling your best. Fiber also aids in digestion to make sure that your bowel gets enough water to make your movements easier to pass, and fiber also can lower cholesterol levels. Lentils are packed with folate, magnesium, and protein, making them great energy providing foods, and they’re low calorie to boot and keep you full for hours. I love to eat lentils with quinoa cooked in vegetable broth with some onions and garlic and some fresh spinach and tahini. You could also try them in this delicious curry recipe!
Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, and like all foods on this list, is nutrient packed! Protein, fiber, folate, beta-carotene, and vitamin C make broccoli a true “super food.” Folate is great because it can help those with depression and anxiety, as a symptom of folate deficiency is, indeed, depression and anxiety! They are also packed with something called phytonutrients, which are said to be incredibly beneficial to heart health and are said to prevent certain cancers. Though this plant packs a nutrient-rich punch, it’s important to note that overcooking broccoli can cause it to lose many of its nutrients, so do be careful so as to not overcook it (plus, overcooked broccoli tastes disgusting!) to make sure that you can get all the benefits from this amazing little plant! I love broccoli in a delicious stir fry with some bok choy, snow peas, mushrooms, and tofu, over some brown rice, but it’s also great raw, in salads. You may also want to try them in this dish with balsamic mushrooms (I like to add a little brown rice on the side to this one also!)
Popeye got his superpowers from spinach, and when we look at the vitamins found in spinach, it’s not hard to see why! It’s a great source of vitamins A, B-6 (great for brain health!), C, E (skin and hair benefits!), K, as well as minerals like selenium, niacin (again with the skin and hair! You’re going to glow like an Instagram model, I swear!), zinc, folic acid, potassium, calcium, manganese, and iron (which is an important part of hemoglobin which carries oxygen from your lungs through your body). This is another one I’d be sure not to overcook because that’s a lot of great vitamins that heating too intensely can destroy. Great in a salad raw, but also delicious steamed lightly with some olive oil and salt. You could also try it with gnocchi in this amazing recipe!
Almonds are a great way to get some great minerals into your diet. They can help to keep you full when balanced with protein and fiber. Almonds are high in Vitamin E (great for skin!), magnesium (can alleviate headaches and pain), fiber, and iron. They are also high in omega 6 fatty acids which can help to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). There have been a few studies that even suggest that eating almonds (or walnuts) regularly can reduce a risk of breast cancer by two to three times! You might try some sliced almonds, or even sprinkle them in a cup of probiotic yogurt in the morning. Here is a summer favorite that uses almonds (and spinach, which is also on this list as well).