Vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber — you know what they are, and you know they’re good for you. But do you know the top 10 healthiest foods that pack the biggest nutritional punch?
Below you’ll find 10 healthy foods to include in your daily diet to support a healthy heart, bones, gut, and so much more.
Before the list begins, it’s important to note that no matter how healthy a food is, you should always consult your doctor before making significant lifestyle changes, such as taking up a new physical activity or altering your diet.
Now, in no particular order, let’s dive into the first ultra-healthy food on the list.
1. Chia Seeds
Anyone who lived through the ‘80s may think of chia seeds as just the sprouts grown on terracotta figurines. Now, however, chia seeds are recognized as one of the most nutritious superfoods in the world.
Not only do these mighty little seeds pack a plant-based protein punch (nearly 5 grams), but a single one-ounce serving provides nearly 40 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of dietary fiber. What’s more, that same serving size covers 18 percent of the RDI of calcium.1
Chia seeds are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.2 Now that is one impressive, itty-bitty seed.
Lean meats, poultry, and fish are all great choices for getting protein into a healthy diet. However, when it comes to an option that is also high in a multitude of vitamins and minerals, salmon is an excellent choice.
A 3-ounce serving of wild-caught Alaskan salmon dishes up 22 grams of protein and is one of the top sources for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Both are associated with optimal heart health.3
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential To A Healthy Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential” fats, meaning your body requires them but can’t produce them on its own. This means you must get them through your daily diet by including nutritious foods like fish, nuts, leafy greens, flaxseeds, and vegetable oils.4 You can also take supplements that are specially-formulated with omegas-3s.
There’s a reason parents are constantly telling their kids to eat their broccoli. This is one food that’s undeniably super. A reliable source of fiber (2.4 grams for 1 cup uncooked), this cruciferous vegetable provides 14 percent of the RDI of folate and 135 percent of the RDI of vitamin C.5
Yes, you read that correctly — broccoli is a vitamin C powerhouse.
It doesn’t end there — broccoli also contains measurable amounts of key antioxidants (zeaxanthin and lutein)6
Walnuts are known for being high in healthy fats — in particular, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fat. Adequate amounts of ALA in a diet has long been linked to cardiovascular health.7
What’s more interesting is, despite their high-fat content, a daily diet that incorporates walnuts have been shown to not affect weight.8
This is one healthy snack that helps keep you full and feeling satiated.
If you grew up with parents concerned about their cholesterol levels, there’s a good chance eggs fall on your list of foods to avoid, due to the egg’s higher LDL cholesterol levels. However, recent research may prove eggs can now be included on your daily foods to eat list.9
Thanks to the egg’s ample vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and folate, along with 6 grams of protein (in one large egg), this food is a nutritional powerhouse.10
Eggs And LDL Cholesterol: How To Lower Your Levels
For many, watching your cholesterol is a vital part of cardiovascular health. So, how do you get a lot of the benefits eggs have to offer without the LDL spike? Go for egg whites instead. The white of a large egg has no cholesterol, compared to the yolk at 186 milligrams.11
Garlic may not be praised for what it can do for your breath, but your blood appreciates its superfood effects. This savory vegetable has been shown to help purify heavy metals from the blood.12
Another superpower of this superfood? Garlic may help keep your joints healthy, which are vital to mobility and agility.13
Countless recipes call for this diverse bulbous vegetable — from soups to salsa — for its flavour punch, but now you can add it to your diet knowing it’s also aiding in good health.
7. Olive Oil
Some say olive oil flows through the veins of those who live along the Mediterranean as much as wine. But you don’t have to be from one of those coastal countries to get the health benefits of this “liquid gold.”14
What sets olive oil apart from many other oils is its high monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) count. Studies have shown that a diet rich in MUFAs can help protect the skin from photoaging — more specifically, from sun damage from UV rays.15
This versatile cooking oil is one of the lowest in saturated fat — compare 11 grams in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to less than 2 grams in the same amount of olive oil. This makes olive oil one of the best oil options for heart health.16,17
Just be careful when selecting an olive oil at your local grocery store. Many olive oils, even some that claim to be “organic extra virgin olive oil” can be mixed with health-destroying vegetable oils. Know how to identify real olive oil before making a purchase.
With 14 grams of protein and nearly 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium per 8-ounce serving, plain skim milk yogurt dressed with fresh berries makes for one of the easiest breakfasts or even a healthy snack.18
Yogurt stands out from many other dairy foods for its live bacteria known as probiotics. These healthy bacteria can help maintain gut health and aid in digestion.19
Not All Dairy Foods Are Created Equal: Making Healthy Choices
While yogurt is packed with vitamins and minerals and is a solid source of protein, many brands choose to load their products with sugar or artificial sweeteners. What’s more, not all yogurt contains probiotics. To take full advantage of this superfood, make sure to read the label and pick a yogurt with live cultures and no added sweeteners.
This citrus fruit favorite is already praised for its high vitamin C levels — the juice of one lemon yields 31 percent of the RDI.20 But what puts it on this list of the healthiest foods to eat daily is its notable citric acid levels.
Compared to orange juice, lemon juice contains five times the concentration of citric acid, which studies have shown may aid in kidney health.21-22
This ancient grain is a health food store staple for good reason. Besides being high in dietary fiber (5 grams for 1 cup cooked) and loaded with iron, magnesium, and B vitamins — quinoa stands out for its amino acid profile.23
Quinoa contains noteworthy amounts of all nine essential amino acids. And what are amino acids good for? Everything from stimulating muscle growth to regulating appetite to repairing tissue.24,25
It’s Easy to Get Nutritious Foods Into Your Daily Diet
Your relationship with food and nutrition doesn’t need to be a complicated one. By checking the RDI on dietary guidelines and incorporating some of these superfoods into your day, you can reap the health benefits in no time.
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