The defining feature of any healthy diet, whether it’s the Mediterranean or DASH diet, is variety. A varied food palette is essential for balanced nutrition as every nutrient plays a role in the maintenance of health. However, some foods stand out for their exceptional nutritional value and health benefits. Let’s take a look at some of these wonder foods that you should add to your diet and let the healing begin!
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and Swiss chard should be part of any healthy diet. Rich in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, carotenoids, and minerals, cruciferous vegetables are known to lower the risk of obesity, cardiac disease, cognitive disorders, and depression. Broccoli is the most notable of these and is regarded as the most nutritionally dense vegetable. Research also highlights broccoli’s role in cancer prevention, which is linked to the presence of sulforaphanes in this wonder veggie.
Blueberries are widely regarded as a superfood because of their high content of vitamin C and antioxidants. This naturally sweet delight makes for the perfect snack or dessert and pairs well with breakfast cereal or yogurt. While all berries are healthy, blueberries contain more antioxidants than almost all other fruits and veggies. This is why they are so effective at protecting against a wide range of lifestyle diseases, including cancer, cardiac disease, and dementia. Epicatechins, a type of antioxidant in blueberries, can also lower the risk of urinary tract infections.
Aside from the fact that salmon tastes great, it is one of the most nutritious foods you can find. It is regarded as the best natural source for healthy fats like omega-3s and also contains a good amount of protein, B vitamins, selenium, and other minerals. Omega-3 fats are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect and studies show that a moderate dietary intake of salmon can enhance protection against obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Tomatoes may be unassuming because of their widespread use in everything from ketchup to marinara sauce but that doesn’t take them any less exceptional. This nutrient dense superfood offers a wide range of health benefits, from regulating blood glucose levels to protecting against heart disease. Most of tomato’s health benefits are linked to their carotenoids like lutein and lycopene. These carotenoids are also known to boost eye health, lowering the risk of macular degeneration. Instead of eating them raw, tomatoes are best consumed cooked or stewed as this improves the bioavailability of its nutrients.
Yogurt has become increasingly popular in recent decades because of growing awareness about the importance of probiotics. These beneficial bacteria can restore the balance of gut microflora, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal disorders. However, the benefits of probiotics from yogurt go even further because of the role of the gut microbiome in human health. This means that probiotic foods like yogurt won’t just protect against conditions like IBS, but can also reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s plate! Seaweed is not just a trendy exotic food, it’s loaded with a wide range of nutrients, including vitamin K, iodine, folate, and fiber. Seaweed actually includes a collection of nutrient dense marine veggies, not a single type of plant. In addition to their nutritional complexity, these veggies also contain bioactive compounds that you won’t find in land-based foods. Seaweed benefits include a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiac disease, and obesity.
Nuts are considered part of any healthy diet because of their rich nutritional profile – they contain high quality protein, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Walnuts are noteworthy even when compared to other nuts, as they contain more antioxidants than others. The nutritional content of walnuts makes them the perfect food to promote heart health and brain function, also lowering the risk of other lifestyle disorders.
Eggs have often received a bad rap because of their high cholesterol content, but studies suggest that they can instead improve your cholesterol profile. Egg protein is also more effective at promoting muscle development as compared to other proteins and increases satiety, reducing the risk of obesity. While egg whites will give you some of that protein, it is the yolk that is most nutritious. Whole eggs contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and high quality protein, as well as micronutrients like choline. Choline deficiency has been linked to neurological disorders, liver disease, cardiac disease, and an increased risk of neural tube defects.
Eating for better health is all about balanced nutrition. So, although these foods are especially healthy and should be part of your diet, it’s important to have variety. If you suffer from any preexisting condition, make it a point to speak to your health care provider or dietitian before making any significant change to your diet.