Quick Health Scoop
- Choose healthy foods that provide a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
- Start with nutritious foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, blueberries, sardines, garbanzo beans, and almonds
- Incorporate healthy foods into your diet with meal planning
If healthy eating tops your list of wellness priorities, you’ll want to focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. But with so many options at the grocery store, you might be wondering, “What foods should I eat?” Is there such a thing as the “healthiest fruits” or the “healthiest vegetables”?
In general, the best healthy foods should provide the following:1
- Good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
- High in phytonutrients and antioxidant compounds
The above criteria still encompass a huge variety of healthy foods. Need some more specific guidance? Read on.
7 Healthy Foods To Incorporate Into Your Diet
Use the following list as a starting point for nutritious foods that you should be eating on a regular basis.
- Sweet Potatoes: This heart healthy vegetable is loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.2 The deep orange color of sweet potatoes can be attributed to beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A.
- Spinach: Another heart healthy food, spinach (and other leafy greens like kale and collard greens) is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin K, calcium, iron and, potassium.3
- Avocados: Fiber-rich and full of heart healthy fats, avocados can help you stay full longer.4 Avocados are great sources of folate, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamins C, E and K.4
- Blueberries: These nutrient-dense berries are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, and fiber.5 Their Vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, and flavonoid content make blueberries powerful antioxidants.
- Sardines: These heart healthy fish (typically found in the canned foods aisle) are packed with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, as well as great sources of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium, and iron.6
- Garbanzo Beans: Also known as chickpeas, these protein-rich beans also contain fiber, folate, iron, and phosphorus.7
- Almonds: Loaded with antioxidants, these tasty nuts are also great sources of Vitamin E, fiber, manganese, magnesium, protein, and healthy fats.8
Read More: Healthy Grill Recipes to Try
How To Incorporate Nutritious Food Into Your Diet
The best way to incorporate healthy foods into your day lies in meal planning. This involves mapping out what specific recipes you’ll be making for the coming week. Try making this a weekly habit! This intentional approach helps you think about what you plan to eat this week, allowing you to mindfully choose healthy foods. Using the above list as a starting point, build meals around some of those superfoods, or simply add them to soups, salad, sandwiches, and stews to boost flavor.
You can also make a healthy snacks list to post on your fridge. Keep a regular stash of ready-to-eat healthy foods in your fridge (think baby carrots, low-fat Greek yogurt, and cantaloupe chunks) and in your pantry (like pumpkin seeds, cashews, and whole-grain crackers).
Read More: Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
The Bottom Line
Armed with this starter list of the seven best foods, you’ll know which healthy foods to eat every day, whether you’re cooking at home, snacking on the go, or even ordering at a restaurant. Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
1. Mayo Clinic. “10 Great Health Foods.” 2019. Accessed on: January 15, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/health-foods/sls-20076653
2. California State University. “The Sweet Facts About Sweet Potatoes.” 2019. Accessed on: January 15, 2021. https://blogs.csun.edu/nutritionexperts/2019/06/10/the-sweet-facts-about-sweet-potatoes/
3. Cleveland Clinic. “Kale vs. Spinach: Which is Heart-Healthier?” 2020. Accessed on: January 14, 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/kale-vs-spinach-which-is-heart-healthier/
4. Cedars-Sinai. In Case You Need a Reason to Eat More Avocado. Accessed on January 26, 2021. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/healthy-and-delicious-avocado.html
5. Oregon State University Extension Office. “Health and Healing Fact Sheets: Blueberries.” 2020. Accessed on: January 14, 2021. http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/blueberry_facts.htm
6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food Data Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175139/nutrients. Accessed on January 26, 2021.
7. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The Nutrition Source: Chickpeas.” 2021. Accessed on: January 15, 2021. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chickpeas-garbanzo-beans/
8. Texas A&M Health. “Top 10 Food With Health Benefits.” 2016. Accessed on: January 15, 2021. https://vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/top-10-foods-with-health-benefits/
Nutrition Data from: https://nutritiondata.self.com