“By choosing foods wisely, we can control our health destiny,” states Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat for Health, 2008. Over the past 2 decades, Fuhrman reviewed 20,000 human-nutrition studies to create a scientifically based method for selecting optimal foods for weight control, disease prevention, ant-aging and overall health. To do so, he compared common foods based on quantifiable nutrients-per-calorie. These following foods are the top nutrient-dense foods by category. Use these foods to make informed eating choices for yourself and your family!
Vegetables are loaded with fiber and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals,etc.) so you can eat them in unlimited quantities. Start every lunch and dinner with a serving of raw vegetables to increase nutrient intake and help control appetite.
Dark Leafy Greens are filled with all sorts of amazing nutrients such as Vitamins A, C and K, folate, manganese, magnesium, calcium, fiber. A diet rich in dark greens may promote eye health thanks in part to carotenoids which is a group of pigments found primarily in green leafy vegetables, carrots and tomatoes. Additionally, dark greens may help fight cancer and reduce diabetes risk due to the high levels of Vitamin K which has been proven to help deter insulin sensitivity and improve blood glucose control. Shopping Tip – the darker the leaf, the more nutrient-dense, so avoid always going for the iceberg lettuce and opt for baby spinach or small leaf kale instead.
Bok Choy is perfect in soups, grilled or served as a cole slaw, much as you would cabbage. Bok Choy is a top source for Vitamin C, folate, calcium and fiber and has been known to help promote bone health as well as support immunity.
Radishes have been known as a wonderful vegetable for weight management as they help the body purge toxins and are a good source of fiber, as well as Vitamin C and folate. You can eat radishes raw or cut them up in a salad.
Bean Sprouts are a good source of Vitamin C, K and folate, potassium and also protein. Not everyone enjoys the taste of bean sprouts, but when consumed regularly, they can boost satiety and assist in overall weight management.
Red Bell Peppers are super yummy and versatile for a number of dishes. They are a good source of Vitamin C (more than 3 times as much as a green pepper), A B6 and K, fiber , manganese and folate. Red peppers are wonderful for heart health and support immunity as well as may decrease the risk of certain type of cancers, including lung cancer.
Eat at least four fresh fruits daily for the maximum variety of phytochemicals. Frozen fruit is a fine substitute, but avoid canned, which often contains added sweeteners. For weight loss and diabetes or pre-diabetes management, eat just two fruits daily and focus on lower-sugar varieties such as berries, green apples, melons, and grapefruit.
Strawberries may have anti-inflammatory, anticancer effects and promote brain health. They have also been known to help lower cholesterol. Strawberries are nutrient-dense containing Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate and flavonoids. Remember that strawberries are unfortunately on the “Dirty Dozen” list which means you should attempt to purchase organic at all times.
Pomegranate fruit/juiceis an amazing source of antioxidants, flavonoids, potassium and calcium. Studies show that the pomegranate has antiatherogenic properties in which it may help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. It is also known to be an antihypertensive with anti-inflammatory effects which help fight against heart disease, brain degeneration and certain types of cancers.
Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamins A, B and C, potassium, iron folic acid, phosphorus, carotenoids, fiber and lycopene. Lycopene is a strong antioxidant which may prevent against certain cancers, protect skin from UV exposure and promote overall prostate health.
Plums help support immunity and may help slow development of atherosclerosis. Polyphenols from dried plums may promote bone strength and density by regulating growth factors linked to bone formation. Plums are also a good source of Vitamins A and C, as well as fiber.
Raspberries are filled with manganese, Vitamin C and fiber. The anthocyanins in raspberries and other red plants, may protect eyes and improve hearth health by preventing artery hardening and reducing blood pressure. Ellagic acid, a photochemical, helps kill certain types of cancer cells.
Eat 1/2 cup of beans daily. Dried beans are the most economical. To avoid gas, soak dried beans 8-12 hours and slow cook with a piece of sea vegetable (such as wakame). if buying canned, look for unsalted and BPA-free varieties.
Lentils contain protein, fiber, folate, iron, manganese and magnesium and can help in improving overall colon, breast and brain health. Regular consumption of lentils has been linked to lower blood pressure.
Black Beans are super versatile and transcend a number of ethnic dishes and cuisine. They contain iron, fiber, protein, folate, manganese and magnesium. As indicated by their dark color, black beans contain some of the best sources of antioxidants, may protect against colorectal cancer and slow tumor growth.
Adzuki Beans promote heart health and help manage weight as well as support the body’s ability to purge toxins. Super easy to soak and cook, Adzuki’s are filled with protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and folate.
It’s important to remember that not all grains are created equal! Breakfast cereals and some breads lose much of their fiber and nutrients during processing. Choose coarsely ground grains, which are minimally processed as the bloodstream absorbs nutrients more slowly. Make sure that whole grains appear first in the ingredient list.
Brown Rice can be a go-to grain staple for many dishes as brown rice (as opposed to white) may improve blood glucose control, help manage weight and cholesterol and may decrease asthma risk. Brown rice contains fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Oats are filled with beta-glucan which is a soluble fiber as well as calcium, iron, zinc as well as protein. Oats slowly release sugar into the bloodstream which can help deter diabetes, lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease and cancer.
Quinoa bolsters heart health and may protect against certain types of cancers, including breast cancer. The wonderful thing about quinoa is that even though it is a grain, it is also a complete protein which means you feel full, longer. Quinoa contains a high level of protein, calcium, lysine, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, phosphorus and fiber.
POWERFUL NUTS & SEEDS
Despite being high in calories, nuts and seeds are rich in essential fatty acids, which promote brain and heart health. Nuts and seeds make wonderful snacks as well as add flavor and texture to a number of recipes.
Brazil Nuts contain a high amount of selenium, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, Vitamin A and iron. One of the richest sources of selenium, brazil nuts may bolster immunity, reduce the risk of cancer and promote liver health.
Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens/lignans, as well as fiber, omega-3’s as well as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseeds may prevent colon, breast, skin and lung cancers as well as help treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Also, flaxseed may help decrease cholesterol levels, arterial plaque formation and reduce diabetes risk.
Pumpkin Seeds are nutrient rich in iron, zinc, omega-3’s, magnesium, as well as high in protein. There are some studies that show pumpkin seeds may help promote prostate health as well as help reduce cholesterol.
Nourish yourself with vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds from the above list and you’ll be doing your bod a great service by incorporating foods which can help deter cancer, diabetes, heart disease, early aging and further promote health and vitality!