When it comes to healthy eating, there are varying opinions about what makes a perfect diet, but most food and nutrition experts agree that at least a few foods stand out as being exceptionally good for you. Some of these foods help your body to function better, and others offer protection from chronic diseases, so they should be included in a healthy diet.
In its Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cutting back on processed and packaged foods that can be high in fat and salt, and eating more high-fiber whole foods. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers practical suggestions, like eating at least a total of 2 1/2 cups of dark green, red and orange vegetables plus 2 cups of fruit each day; choosing whole grains like brown rice, whole-grain breads and cereals; and swapping out saturated fats in meat for more seafood and foods with unsaturated fat.
5 Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Many research studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have lower rates of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. They all provide certain benefits, but leafy green vegetables like spinach, and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and kale seem to provide the most protection against cancer and heart disease. Brightly colored fruits are also important, and strawberries and tomatoes are often singled out for cancer protection and eye health.
3 High-Fiber Whole Grains
Most people eat lots of grains, but few of them are the healthy kind of whole grains that provide vitamins, minerals and fiber and help the GI system to function better. Because all whole grains provide different nutrients, it’s hard to say which is the best, but oatmeal, barley and quinoa are three that provide the most bang for your buck in terms of antioxidants, fiber and B vitamins. Refined grains like white bread or rice and sweetened cereals offer little nutritional value, so replace these with healthier whole grains.
2 Healthy Fat Foods
Although some people might shy away from foods high in fat, there are actually many foods that contain healthy fats, which can help to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. Two foods recommended by the Harvard School of Public Health are walnuts and avocados. Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fats, along with protein, fiber and many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Avocados contain mostly heart healthy monounsaturated fat, along with almost 20 other nutrients.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eat Right Tips -- Everyday Eating for a Healthier You
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits: Get Plenty Every Day
- Whole Grains Council: Compare Nutrients in Various Grains
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- California Walnuts: Nutrition
- California Avocados: Avocado Nutrients