Let’s get real, forget trying to lose weight for just a minute and let’s focus on something more important…what can we eat to support health & vitality?
There is so much conflicting information out there when it comes to what we should eat and what we shouldn’t eat..
In all honesty, I hate the word should and so we should eat whatever the hell we feel like eating with no guilt or shame. We were actually all born intuitive eaters with no built in internal calorie counting system for a reason. If the food industry didn’t mess us up with addictive foods and drinks that we can’t stop consuming, then very few people in the world would be overweight. FYI Coca Cola invested millions of dollars just to make their product as addictive as possible…
So if we were born intuitive eaters, why don’t we just all do that…? I am not knocking intuitive eating and if that works for you then great, don’t change a thing! But for me, because I had dieted for over 20 years and ingrained some seriously deep habits of binge eating, I had got myself addicted to chocolate and ice cream so when I practiced intuitive eating, I always wanted to eat chocolate and ice cream! I would eat it quite happily and admittedly I didn’t binge as much compared to when the food was off limits during my dieting days, but I still ate more than a balanced portion to stay healthy. I lived breathed and researched intuitive eating and practised everything, including having all my trigger foods in the house all the time, which was recommended but even after months I was still eating them to excess and not reaching my health goals. Which is why I became a health coach and learnt how to change my habits in a comfortable way and to eat nourishing foods that give me all I need to be healthy and energised. I got help from a coach because I needed the support and accountability.
So without further ado, let me provide you lovely lot details of the top 15 foods considered to be the most healthy, according to myself, surveys and sources across the United States and Western Europe. Understanding which foods are healthful and trying to include them in our diet could benefit the nation. The most important thing to remember, is that a balanced diet is the true secret to healthful eating.
Nuts, pulses, and grains
Nuts, pulses, and grains are highly nutritious. Here are some of the best:
First on our list is almonds. Almonds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin. Almonds as a food may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Almonds have more fiber than any other tree nut.
Nuts, pulses, and grains are in important part of a healthy diet.
Brazil nuts are some of the most healthful nuts on the planet. They are rich in protein and carbohydrates. They are also excellent sources of vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.
Not only that, but they contain one of the highest amounts of selenium of any food; selenium is a vital mineral for maintaining thyroid function – your thyroid is one of the bad boys in charge of your hormones for metabolism and fat loss.
The nuts come in a hard shell and are often served prepared ready to eat, making them an excellent and nutritious, healthful snack.
Lentils are a pulse that is used in many cuisines throughout the world; notably, South East Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
Lentils require a long cooking time, but the seeds can be sprouted which makes them ready to eat – and a delicious, healthy snack. Adding a container of sprouted lentils to a lunchbox or picnic basket, perhaps with some chili powder or pepper for flavoring, makes for a delicious and healthy snack.
Oatmeal (us Brits call it porridge)
Oatmeal is meal made from rolled or ground oats. Research found that the cereal’s soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol levels.
Oats are rich in complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fiber, which slow digestion down and stabilize levels of blood-glucose. Oatmeal is rich in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.
What the chuff is wheat germ? Wheat germ is the part of wheat that germinates to grow into a plant – the embryo of the seed. Germ, along with bran, is a by-product of milling; when cereals are refined, the germ and bran are often milled out.
Wheat germ is high in several vital nutrients, such as vitamin E, folic acid (folate), thiamin, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as fatty alcohols and essential fatty acids. Wheat germ is also a good source of fiber.
Ideas for using wheat germ:
- In place of breadcrumbs in recipes.
- A topping for your yogurt, porridge, or sliced fruit.
- Use wheat germ in your baking by replacing some of the flour with it.
- As a filler in meatballs or burgers.
- Use it as a crumb topping on desserts or casseroles.
- Use it in your favorite stuffing recipe.
- Wheat germ can be a ready to serve cereal, eaten both cold or hot.
- Use it in smoothies.
- Wheat germ along with seasonings makes a nice coating for baked fish or chicken.
- Add it to your favorite soup recipe.
Greens, fruits, and berries
Greens, fruits, and berries are easy to add to your diet with a little bit of effort!
Fruits, leafy greens, and vegetables contain vital nutrients and fiber.
Broccoli is rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, folate, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds that reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Broccoli also contains vitamin C, as well as beta-carotene, an antioxidant.
A single 100-gram serving of broccoli can provide you with over 150 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which in large doses can potentially shorten the duration of the common cold.
Another ingredient, sulforaphane, is also said to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory qualities.
However, overcooking broccoli can destroy many of its nutrients. Eating it raw (erm… not for me…) or lightly steamed is best.
Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, which combat free radicals. Free radicals are naughty little critters, damaging substances generated in the body that cause undesirable changes. They are involved in the aging process and some diseases. Some animal studies have found that an antioxidant found in apples (polyphenols) might extend lifespans.
Researchers at Florida State University said that apples are a “miracle fruit.” In their study, the investigators found that older women who started a regime of eating apples daily experienced a 23 percent drop in levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and a 4 percent increase in good cholesterol (HDL) after just 6 months. Well, we all know the saying… An apple a day keeps the doctor away…
Kale is a very underrated leafy green. There are a lot of different nutrients contained within the leaves of kale.
Vitamin C is a nutrient of kale, and it contains a substantial amount of vitamin K, 817 micrograms or 778 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Kale can be cooked or steamed like cabbage, spinach, or asparagus. It can also be consumed in smoothies or juiced for a revitalizing nutrient kick. My fave way of eating this superfood is to rub the leaves in extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and roast in the oven until crispy.
Blueberries are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Unlike minerals and vitamins, phytonutrients are not essential for keeping us alive. However, they may help prevent disease and keep the body working properly.
According to a study carried out at Harvard Medical School, older adults who eat plenty of blueberries (and strawberries) are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline, compared with other people of their age who do not.
Scientists at Texas Woman’s University found that blueberries help in curbing obesity. Plant polyphenols, which are abundant in blueberries, have been shown to reduce the development of fat cells (adipogenesis), while inducing the breakdown of lipids and fat (lipolysis).
Regular blueberry consumption can reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10 percent.
Many people avoid avocados because of their high fat content; they believe that avoiding all fats leads to better health and easier-to-control body weight – this is a myth. Avocados are rich in healthy fats, as well as B vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamin E and have a very high fiber content. Studies have shown that regular avocado consumption lowers blood cholesterol levels.
Researchers from Ohio State University found that nutrients taken from avocados were able to stop oral cancer cells, and even destroy some of the pre-cancerous cells.
Leafy green vegetables
Studies have shown that a high intake of dark-leafy vegetables, such as spinach or cabbage, may significantly lower a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Spinach, for example, is very rich in antioxidants, especially when uncooked, steamed, or very lightly boiled. It is a good source of vitamins A, B-6, C, E, and K, as well as selenium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, copper, folic acid, potassium, calcium, manganese, betaine, and iron… Popeye knew what he was doing…!
Sweet potatoes – OMG I love sweet potatoes!
Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, beta-carotene (vitamin A), potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. The sweet potato ranked number one, when vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein, and complex carbohydrates were considered.
Fish, meat, and eggs
When looking for healthy protein, it is difficult to know which is the best source. Here are some of the best:
Salmon, eggs, chicken, and venison are all excellent sources of protein.
Examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies. These types of fish have oil in their tissues and around the gut.
Their lean fillets contain up to 30 percent oil, specifically, omega-3 fatty acids. These oils are known to provide benefits for the heart, as well as the nervous system.
Oily fish provide benefits for patients with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. They are also rich in vitamins A and D.
Chicken is a cheap and healthy meat. Free-range chicken provides an excellent source of protein.
As a white meat, chicken can be consumed much more freely than other red meats such as beef, which can have a more damaging long-term impact on overall health.
Eggs are another source of protein that can easily be incorporated into a balanced diet. Being very versatile, they can be added to many meals – not just breakfast.
They contain other vitamins, including vitamin B-2, also known as riboflavin, and vitamin B-12, both of which are important for energy and red blood cells. It is also a good source of the essential amino acid leucine, which is important for stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
The yolk of the egg contains the majority of the vitamins and minerals. It also contains the fat and cholesterol, however, research has shown that eggs do not increase the risk for heart disease. Consuming fat in moderate amounts is perfectly healthful. So forget that silly idea of only buying egg whites!
Balance and moderation
Overall it is important for health to have a balanced diet and one that does not focus on one specific type of food. The most important thing is to eat what makes your body feel good. My body loves oats and beans but I can’t eat avocados. My boyfriend can’t eat dairy products without feeling bloated whereas I am fine to eat them. Everyone is different, that’s the beauty of life! Do what’s right for you and your body not what Mary down the road is doing.
It’s also important to remember that eating foods that are not considered healthy from a nutritional standpoint every so often is almost essential for your mental health and enjoyment of life. What’s life if you can’t have a bit of cake or a take away every now and again…?!
Wanna know more about if healthy eating is really necessary…? Then read this beauty.
Need help to revamp your life so you’re choosing healthful foods and exercise over binge eating nights in front of the TV? I may be able to help you, my love! Click here for a chat.