10 Healthy Foods From Mother Nature to Include in Your Diet Regularly
Consuming healthy foods is critical to your general well-being. When your diet consists of various nutrients that assist cell function, you feel better, look better, and enjoy a better quality of life.
Of course, you have to bring them home from the store! They won't do you any good if you don't have them on hand!
Real food has seemingly disappeared from the American diet in particular. It's infuriating to know that we used to ONLY have healthy foods. However, mad scientists who thought they could solve food shortages and the population explosion, changed it. What used to be 'healthy' for you, is now not so much.
When I was growing up, the last thing we were worried about was our food sources. Even during times when money was tight, we could rest assured that the food we had access to, was healthy, wholesome, and nutritional.
In the meantime, the economy today is STILL in the toilet. Money shortages are forcing many folks to skip over the healthy foods because they have bought into the belief that they're too expensive to buy. In fact, many people swear that they just don't have the money to buy the good stuff.
I think that's a cop out!
My son and I live vicariously. Money is always tight! However, I am a very stealthy shopper and stretch our money by investing in LIVE healthy foods that 1) satiate hunger pangs longer, 2) are highly nutritional, and 3) are cheap to buy.
Anyone can serve better meals at home by learning which foods to select and which foods to pass on.
Here's my list of my personal favorite 10 top healthy foods. I consider them to be the 'Cream of the Crop' foods. Of course, this isn't the 'end-all' list. There are other healthy foods that are worth mentioning. However, these are the foods that should make it into your grocery cart
more often because they are vitamin-packed, highly palatable, and are good news to your body!
Healthy Foods to Include in Your Diet
Peanuts are deemed to be the ‘perfect’ nut, packed in over 30 essential nutrients, including plant nutrients. They are a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, polyphenols, resveratrol, CoQ10 and Vitamin E. They contain no natural sodium and are 25 percent pure protein.
New research has found that peanuts are just as much (if not more) nutritious as many fruits. Roasting peanuts boosts their overall antioxidant content by as much as 22 percent. They are at the top of my list of healthy foods for good reason!
The hygiene hypothesis states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents like germs and parasites could be attributable to the increase of food allergies today.
A 2008 study observed that delaying peanut exposure can dramatically increase the risk of developing peanut allergies later on in life.
Plumpy Nut, a product made with peanuts, is known to help feed malnourished children in poor countries.
Avocados have a diverse selection of healthy fats and should be included in a healthy foods diet. About 75 percent of an avocado’s energy is derived from monounsaturated fats. Other fats include palmatic acid and linoleic acid. They also contain around 14 percent saturated fat and have 35 percent more potassium as banana’s and are rich in folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and pantothenic acid.
They also contain 75 percent insoluble fiber and 25 percent soluble fiber.
High avocado consumption has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Oil of avocado is beneficial to the integumentary system.
Collard greens have been deemed to be one of the most healthy foods in the world. They are a cruciferous vegetable and are PACKED in nutrients. A recent study showed that collards have more antioxidant protection than kale, mustard greens, and broccoli. Regular consumption of steamed collard greens helps reduce cholesterol levels by increasing it’s bile acid-binding abilities.
Collard greens contain 4 specific glucosinolates, which helps reduce cancer risks by supporting anti-inflammatory systems.
Collards are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin E. Key phytonutrients found in collards are caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol, which helps lower oxidative stress in the cells.
They are also rich sources of fiber (7 grams in every cup), vitamin K and omega 3 fats.
Just one cup of cooked collard greens has only 63 calories, yet the health benefits are incredible!
Raw Collards Nutritional Value
Vitamin K 858.3%
Vitamin A 481.3%
Vitamin C 46.1%
Vitamin B2 15.3%
Vitamin B6 14.1%
Vitamin E 11.1%
Pantothenic acid 8.2%
Omega-3 fats 7.5%
Vitamin B 36.8%
Vitamin B1 6.6%
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Collard greens provide more than 350 micrograms of folate in every hundred calories. That's 50 percent more than broccoli, 100 percent more than Brussels sprouts, 3 times more than cabbage, and over 7 times more than kale.
*Collards have long been a staple of southern cooking in the US. Their greens, unlike their cousins kale and mustard greens, have a very mild flavor.
They are at their best from January through April, although you can buy them year round in most areas of the US.
*If you can't find collards in your country, see if there aren't other greens available that you can substitute. Just look for the nutritional information to find out if they are a close match. Greens of all kinds contain chlorophyll, which keeps them at the top of the list for healthy foods!
Chicken eggs are the most commonly eaten eggs and are a good source of all essential amino acids. (Yet they are highly undervalued in many cultures today.) They also provide several vitamins and key minerals, including retinol as vitamin A, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Eggs are also a good source of CoQ10 depending on how they are prepared.
All of the egg's vitamins A, D, and E are in the egg yolk. The egg is one of the few healthy foods to naturally contain vitamin D.
One large (uncooked) egg yolk contains approximately 60 calories and the egg white contains about 15 calories. A large yolk contains more than two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg of cholesterol, (which is not absorbed as cholesterol by the body) and makes up about 33 percent of the liquid weight. It contains all of the beneficial fat, slightly less than half of the protein, and most of the other nutrients. It also contains all of the choline, which is an important nutrient for development of the brain.
Raw Eggs Nutritional Value
Carbohydrates 1.12 g
Fat 10.6 g
Protein 12.6 g
Tryptophan 0.153 g
Threonine 0.604 g
Isoleucine 0.686 g
Leucine 1.075 g
Lysine 0.904 g
Methionine 0.392 g
Cystine 0.292 g
Phenylalanine 0.668 g
Tyrosine 0.513 g
Valine 0.767 g
Arginine 0.755 g
Histidine 0.298 g
Alanine 0.700 g
Aspartic acid 1.264 g
Glutamic acid 1.644 g
Glycine 0.423 g
Proline 0.501 g
Serine 0.936 g
Water 75 g
Vitamin A 149 μg (19%)
Thiamine 0.066 mg (6%)
Riboflavin 0.5 mg (42%)
Pantothenic acid 1.4 mg (28%)
Folate 44 μg (11%)
Vitamin B12 1.11 μg (46%)
Choline 294 mg (60%)
Vitamin D 87 IU (15%)
Vitamin E 1.03 mg (7%)
Calcium 50 mg (5%)
Iron 1.2 mg (9%)
Magnesium 10 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 172 mg (25%)
Potassium 126 mg (3%)
Zinc 1.0 mg (11%)
Cholesterol 424 mg
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Pasture-raised free-range hens which forage largely for their own foods, (bugs and such), produce eggs with less cholesterol and fats. They are higher in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids than standard factory eggs.
Cooked eggs are easier to digest as well as having a lower risk of salmonellosis.
A 2010 study found no link between egg consumption and type II diabetes.
A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in 2013 found no association between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke.
Dried beans are an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
Equivalents: For most beans: 1 pound dried beans (2 cups) = 4 - 5 cups cooked beans, depending on the variety.
Beans are naturally low in fat and sodium, and are packed with B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and iron. Eating beans may assist in the prevention of colon cancer, and reduce blood cholesterol. They also provide loads of long lasting energy when consumed regularly along with other healthy foods.
Raw sweet potatoes are plentiful in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and beta-carotene. They also contain moderate amounts of micronutrients, including vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and potassium. Cooked sweet potatoes have slightly higher amounts of vitamin C and polyphenols.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (when comparing the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other similar healthy foods), has ranked sweet potatoes as highest in nutritional value, including fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A and potassium.
Darker varieties of sweet potatoes contain more beta carotene than those with a lighter color.
Sweet potatoes have a higher nutritional value of certain vitamins and minerals than cereals.
To date, sweet potatoes are the only potato that are NOT presently genetically mutated.
Raw Sweet Potato Nutritional Value
Carbohydrates 20.1 g
Starch 12.7 g
Sugars 4.2 g
Dietary fiber 3 g
Fat 0.1 g
Protein 1.6 g
Vitamin A 709 μg (89%)
Beta-carotene 8509 μg (79%)
Thiamine 0.078 mg (7%)
Riboflavin 0.061 mg (5%)
Niacin 0.557 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid 0.8 mg (16%)
Vitamin B6 0.209 mg (16%)
Folate 11 μg (3%)
Vitamin C 2.4 mg (3%)
Vitamin E 0.26 mg (2%)
Calcium 30 mg (3%)
Iron 0.61 mg (5%)
Magnesium 25 mg (7%)
Manganese 0.258 mg (12%)
Phosphorus 47 mg (7%)
Potassium 337 mg (7%)
Sodium 55 mg (4%)
Zinc 0.3 mg (3%)
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Although tomatoes are considered to be a berry botanically, tomatoes are considered to be a vegetable because of its unique flavor and cooking ability. They are a good source of many vitamins and micronutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, potassium, and lycopene.
Raw Red Tomatoes Nutritional Value
Carbohydrates 3.9 g
Sugars 2.6 g
Dietary fiber 1.2 g
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 0.9 g
Water 94.5 g
Vitamin A 42 μg (5%)
Beta-carotene 449 μg (4%)
Lutein and zeaxanthin 123 μg
Thiamine 0.037 mg (3%)
Niacin 0.594 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.08 mg (6%)
Vitamin C 14 mg (17%)
Vitamin E 0.54 mg (4%)
Vitamin K 7.9 μg (8%)
Magnesium 11 mg (3%)
Manganese 0.114 mg (5%)
Phosphorus 24 mg (3%)
Potassium 237 mg (5%)
Lycopene 2573 µg
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Cooked tomatoes contain higher amounts of lycopene than raw tomatoes.
The richest source of lycopene in the diet is from tomato and tomato derived products. Consumption has been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer, head and neck cancers, and might be protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers. Tomatoes, tomato sauces, and puree are said to help urinary tract infections, may have anticancer properties, and can help reduce cardiovascular risk associated with type II diabetes.
Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C (Doublerich), 40 times normal vitamin A (97L97), high levels of anthocyanin (blue tomatoes), and two to four times the normal amount of lycopene. (crimson red tomatoes).
Bananas are packed in vitamin B6, soluble fiber, and contain appreciable amounts of vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. Banana’s show a reduced risk of colorectal cancer across the board but for women in particular, regular consumption helps decrease breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma risks.
Bananas stand alone. They have long been a staple food for many populations and are one of the healthy foods you should consume regularly. The flesh of the banana can range in taste from starchy to sweet and the texture from firm to mushy. Both the skin and inner part can be eaten raw or cooked, which surprised me! The banana gets it’s flavor from isoamyl acetate, which is one of the main constituents of banana oil.
During the ripening process, bananas produce the gas ethylene, which stimulates the formation of amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar. Green bananas contain higher levels of starch and are less sweet, while yellow bananas have higher sugar concentrations and therefore have a sweet taste. Pectinase, an enzyme which breaks down the pectin between the cells of the banana cause banana to soften as they ripen.
To ripen banana’s successfully and slowly, buy a few that are green, some that are ‘in between’ and a small amount that are already ripe. When you get home from the grocery store, immediately pull them apart. They will not all ripen at the same time and the green and in between banana's will ripen more slowly.
Most onions contain about 89 percent water, 4 percent sugar, 1 percent protein, 2 percent fiber and 0.1 percent fat. They contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid and numerous other nutrients in small amounts. They are low in fat and sodium, and have a good energy value. Because they are naturally low in calories, you can add them to other healthy foods and dishes without raising caloric content.
Onions contain chemical compounds, like phenols and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. These include quercetin and its glycoside counterparts.
Onions also contain sulfur, one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. Sulfur is required for the synthesis of glutathione.
Sulfur is required for taurine synthesis, which is responsible for proper functioning of the cardiovascular system, muscles, and the CNS.
Sulfur indirectly helps form insulin.
There are marked differences between different varieties in potential antioxidant content. The smaller varieties (shallots) and the most pungent varieties (yellow onions) have the highest levels of nutrients.
Vidalia onions (which seem to be the most popular) have the smallest amount.
Blueberries have a diverse range of micronutrients, and have moderate amounts of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K and dietary fiber. One serving provides a low glycemic index score of 4 out of 100 per day.
Blueberries contain anthocyanins, resveratrol, other pigments and various phytochemicals, which may help reduce inflammation and cancer.
Raw Blueberry Nutritional Value
Carbohydrates 14.49 g
Sugars 9.96 g
Dietary fiber 2.4 g
Fat 0.33 g
Protein 0.74 g
Vitamin A 54 IU
Beta-carotene 32 μg
Lutein and zeaxanthin 80 μg
Thiamine 0.037 mg (3%)
Riboflavin 0.041 mg (3%)
Niacin 0.418 mg (3%)
Pantothenic acid0.124 mg (2%)
Vitamin B6 0.052 mg (4%)
Folate 6 μg (2%)
Vitamin C 9.7 mg (12%)
Vitamin E 0.57 mg (4%)
Vitamin K 19.3 μg (18%)
Calcium 6 mg (1%)
Iron 0.28 mg (2%)
Magnesium 6 mg (2%)
Manganese 0.336 mg (16%)
Phosphorus 12 mg (2%)
Potassium 77 mg (2%)
Sodium 1 mg (0%)
Zinc 0.16 mg (2%)
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Wild (lowbush) varieties of blueberries contain higher nutritional values than highbush blueberries.
In preliminary research, consumption of blueberries have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Including wild blueberry juice in your diet has been shown to improve memory in older adults, while reducing blood sugar levels and symptoms of depression.
These healthy foods are also very versatile. They can be prepared a multitude of different ways so you never get bored with your diet. Its certainly worthwhile to invest some time and learn new recipes if you're bored with fixing things the same way!
So there you have it! My top ten list of healthy foods that you should be including in your diet regularly. What does your 'top 10' list look like?
As stated above, there are certainly other healthy foods not listed that also qualify, however the key is to narrow it down to the foods you and your family enjoy most often, and broaden out your selections from there.
The other great thing is that once you start consuming more of the healthy foods that improve the way your body functions, you'll stop reaching for those highly toxic, chemical-laden foods as much. You'll be amazed at how well this all works out!
Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.
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