Many fad diets focus on which foods you should eliminate from your daily eating habits. Instead of removing “bad” foods, focus on including healthy foods that should be a part of any balanced diet. The healthiest foods are minimally processed, nutrient dense, contain no added sugar and are often a source of phytonutrients. The United States Department of Agriculture -- USDA -- states that consuming foods with phytonutrients is effective in reducing cancer and heart disease risk. Eating a variety of healthy foods high in fiber will allow you to ensure adequate nutrient intake and avoid overeating as well.
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Extremely low in calories, spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. One cup of boiled spinach contains only 41 calories, but it is a great source of over 13 vitamins and minerals -- including Vitamins A, C, E, and K, folate, and manganese. Spinach also contains flavonoids, which are plant compounds that may help prevent cancer.
Like spinach, broccoli is high in fiber and low in calories. Full of cancer-fighting phytonutrients, broccoli is a versatile vegetable that adds large servings of Vitamins C and K to your diet. Eat broccoli raw or steamed. According to a recent study in the Journal of Zhejiang University, steaming broccoli is the best way to retain nutrients when cooking.
Tomatoes are a primary source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. When buying tomato products, avoid ketchup and pasta sauces with added sugar and corn syrup.
Blueberries contain high amounts of antioxidants, compounds that counteract damaging free radicals in the body. Blueberries are also a good source of fiber and are lower in sugar than many other fruits. Other healthy berries include strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Not commonly used in the United States, quinoa is a South American plant high in fiber and complete protein. As a source of whole grains, quinoa is higher in many nutrients -- including manganese and magnesium -- than similar grains like rice and oatmeal. Use as a breakfast substitute with fruit or as a side dish at dinner instead of pasta or rice.
Part of the legume family, beans are one of the best vegetarian sources of complete protein. Beans are high in fiber and also full of iron and B vitamins, which play a key role in energy metabolism.
Higher in calories than other healthy foods, nuts are a key source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Some nuts like almonds also provide an additional fiber boost.
Long used by athletes, flaxseeds are becoming more recognized as a healthy plant source of omega 3 fatty acids. A vegetarian alternative to fish oil, whole flaxseeds also provide protein and fiber.