It is pretty well known that the most nutrient-dense foods are usually found among fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good fats and nuts & seeds.
Here are some of our highest nutritional content foods and their benefits, so you can spot them and incorporate them into your diet.
Fruits are full of antioxidants! Berries put up a great fight against our free radicals (molecules that can damage our cells) due to their high antioxidant content. Although they are all beneficial, blueberries and goji berries are the most potent ones, aiding in eye health and the stabilization of blood sugar, but really they offer whole body antioxidant support.
If you exercise, this one will be great for you:
They are thought to be fattening, and they are slightly higher in energy than other fruits, but the calories come mainly from carbohydrates, making them excellent for refueling before, during or after exercise. Bananas are also jam-packed with potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, and vitamin B6 for healthy skin and hair.
They benefit the entire body. Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K, a very good source of magnesium and the B-vitamin folate and a good source of iron, calcium and the B-vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
They also contain measurable amounts of vitamins C and E. As for the benefits for our health, sea veggies regulate immunity and decrease the risk of cancer. They are especially excellent for the thyroid, immune system, adrenals and hormone function.
Just two florets—raw or lightly cooked—count as a veggie portion. Not only does broccoli contain antioxidants, including vitamin C, but it’s a particularly good source of folate (naturally occurring folic acid). Increasing your intake of folic acid is thought to be of major benefit in the prevention of heart disease. Finally, like many green vegetables, broccoli has anti-cancer properties.
I’m sure you love this, but I don’t mean a chocolate bar (Although dark chocolate has its benefits, we usually abuse it.). Cacao in its raw state is the #1 source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron and manganese. It improves cardiovascular health and elevates your mood and energy. Use it blended in your smoothies or add it to your tea. You can also make yourself a cup of hot cacao (not the same as hot chocolate!) with some honey or agave, since it is quite bitter.
Grains are an excellent source of fiber, have protein and lower your cholesterol. If eating grains works for you, I recommend adding them to your diet at least once a week. There are many choices to choose from: oats, quinoa, millet, beans, etc. One tip for cooking your grains is to soak them for at least a couple of hours changing out the water 2 or 3 times to eliminate the phytic acid, which can make for difficult digestion.
There are many sources, but fatty fish, such as salmon, are loaded with omega 3 fats that reduce blood clotting and inflammation. Studies show that eating oily fish dramatically reduces the risk of having a heart attack, even in older adults. Another great source of good fat is olive oil, which protects against heart disease by controlling bad cholesterol levels while raising the good cholesterol.
NUTS & SEEDS:
In this group, Brazil nuts take the lead. Although all nuts are full of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that can help prevent heart disease, Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium, which helps protects against cancer and depression.
Besides being a good source of calcium, yogurt promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, reducing the risk of colon cancer. It is also a good option for those who are lactose intolerant, as it actually aids in digestion because of the live and active cultures in it.
We have talked about leafy green vegetables before, and we know that fruits and vegetables all offer huge benefits, such as antioxidants that have beneficial properties that protect our cells, but the above groups are very special in what they can do for our health. So make sure to include them on your next grocery shopping list!
By: Carolina Martinez