There are so many ways to eat healthy – whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pegan, keto or anything in between. Every single one of the healthy food items listed here is at the core of each of these diets, and that’s because they’ve been studied to be the most nutritious foods on the planet. Include them in your diet and you might just become the healthiest person you know!
You can buy broccoli sprouts at the grocery store or grow them in your own kitchen. They are rich in a phytonutrient called sulforaphane, and studies have found that eating this superfood can help prevent cancer, alleviate memory problems, improve bowel habits, feed good gut bacteria and ameliorate obesity. You can add them into smoothies or use them as a garnish on any dish.
See here for 18 Broccoli Recipes the Whole Family Will Love
Cauliflower is rich in isothiocyanates, a phytonutrient and enzyme that has been shown to kill cancer stem cells. Another compound found in cauliflower is indole-3-carbinol, which helps protect against DNA damage. Cauliflower is also one of the most versatile veggies that subs in for carbs in keto and paleo recipes, like pizza crust and rice, and replaces meat in vegan recipes, like BBQ wings.
See here for 75 Cauliflower Recipes to Add to Your Repertoire
Some fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, kombucha and tempeh. The main health benefit is their probiotic content, which has a positive influence on the gut microbiome. This impacts the immune system and digestive health, and also helps prevent common degenerative diseases.
A study found that eating 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms a day boosts the immune system while simultaneously reduces inflammation. Shiitakes also have something called beta glucans that play a role in preventing cancer, protecting against allergic reactions, lowering cholesterol and helping the body breakdown fats. Add them to a veggie stir-fry or a banh mi sandwich.
Like all cruciferous veggies, kale is rich in sulforaphane, which helps the body detoxify chemicals and reduces inflammation. The antioxidants in kale, like vitamin A, vitamin C and quercetin, help protect the body from colds and flus. Eating it every day also helps prevent cognitive decline and keeps mental abilities sharp – so chowing on this leafy green may even make you smarter!
See here for 30 Delicious Ways to Sneak Kale Into Your Diet
Studies found that drinking beetroot juice (especially before working out) makes the brains of older adults more efficient, resembling those of younger adults. Beets have also shown positive effects on blood pressure, heart health, endurance performance and blood flow to the brain. The compound betanin is responsible for its gorgeous red colour, and studies found it may play a key role in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s.
These tiny seeds may be small, but they are mighty and packed with fibre. Adding them to a nutritious smoothie, making your own chia pudding or even using them as a crusty coating on fish or chicken will make you feel full for longer. Fibre-rich foods improve heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and help with diabetes by regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. Chia seeds also aid in weight loss, promote better digestion and support good gut microflora.
Research found that eating one cup of blueberries a day may reduce blood pressure and stiffness in the arteries, helping protect against cardiovascular disease. The berries have also been shown to improve attention in kids and cognitive function in adults. The key phytonutrient, anthocyanins, also plays a role in reducing belly fat. Bake the juicy fruit into healthy muffins or throw them into your morning smoothie.
Ginger adds tons of flavour to sweet and savoury dishes alike, and it does so much for your health, too. Eating ginger every day can help ease muscle pain, reduce bad breath, inhibit cancer growth, fight arthritis and may be effective in treating asthma symptoms.
Garlic produces many compounds that work to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It also has powerful antibacterial properties and plays a role in killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Garlic’s main compound, allicin, gives it its distinct flavour and aroma, and acts as a super antioxidant; to get the full benefit you must crush your garlic first.
See here for 21 Recipes Every Garlic Lover Should Know
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Studies have found that EVOO has the potential to preserve memory, boost good cholesterol and help combat degenerative diseases like cancer. Research has also discovered that pouring the oil over spinach, celery, beets and cabbage helps protect against high blood pressure. So, drizzling a vinaigrette dressing over your salad is a must!