Health is wholeness and balance; an inner resilience that allows you to meet the demands of living without being overwhelmed.
– Andrew Weil, M.D.
Most of us have a basic, general knowledge of “good to eat” foods that lend a hand to our health and wellness. We know which foods are considered “junk” foods and which are healthy.
While there are many good food choices in our path, which of these “good for us foods” offer the highest nutritional value? Some foods have earned the distinction of being “powerhouse” foods. These are considered to be nutrient-dense and, when consumed consistently, they decrease our risk of several lifestyle-related chronic diseases and optimize our health.
Food for Thought
A study published in 2014 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), listed 41 top power-house veggies and fruits. Many of their top winners were dark leafy greens and lettuces.
Here Are 10 Nutritional Powerhouse Foods:
Note: Not all of these foods are beneficial for everyone, because of food allergies and sensitivities, or are non-compatible with some prescription medications. Please do your homework to ensure these foods agree with you and will not cause harm, allergies, or reactions. Your health is supported by choosing and eating a variety of nutritional foods daily.
Dark Leafy Greens/Lettuces
Spinach, Swiss chard, and kale are among the healthiest foods you can eat. Besides having potential cancer-fighting powers, they are packed with magnesium, which improves your body’s response to stress, and are full of carotenoid antioxidants that protect blood vessels. Research shows that folic acid in leafy greens may reduce depression and improve blood flow to the brain.
Loaded with antioxidants, berries help improve blood sugar and insulin responses. They are high in fiber, provide many nutrients including vitamin C and manganese, and are considered anti-inflammatory.
One large egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, and a high-quality protein in its 70-calorie package! The majority of the nutrients are found in the yolk such as Vitamin D, Choline, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin for eye health.
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are heart-healthy because of their high, unsaturated fat content. These nuts have major benefits; one-quarter cup of almonds has almost as much calcium (important for osteoporosis prevention), as the same amount of milk. Walnuts may help lower the risk of diseases like arthritis and psoriasis by reducing C-reactive protein; a marker of inflammation in the body.
This pink fish is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help lower bad cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and reduce stress by boosting serotonin levels. Salmon contains many nutrients; among them vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin that help convert the food you consume into energy. You may also want to try Halibut, Sardines, and Cod.
Whole grains contain three parts, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm, (refined grains only contain the endosperm). The bran and germ help keep your body healthy, your skin glowing, and your hair shiny. Including whole grains as part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, bread, and cereals are delicious options for you to try.
These include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, collard greens, mustard greens, and bok-choy.
Most cruciferous veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin K. Dark green cruciferous veggies are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. They’re also rich in phytonutrients, plant-based compounds that may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating.
Beans and lentils are great sources of protein, carbohydrates, and soluble fiber, which makes you feel fuller longer. They have a low glycemic index; helping blood sugar to rise gradually rather than spike and lessen the risk of type 2 diabetes by helping your body use glucose more efficiently.
Cultured Dairy (kefir/yogurt)
Thanks to its live active cultures, (“good” bacteria), yogurt keeps your digestive and immune systems healthy. It’s rich in magnesium, a mineral that is crucial for energy and contains bone-building calcium. Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lowers in sodium and sugar than traditional yogurt. All, however, are good options!
Sweet potatoes are starchy root vegetables rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are high in antioxidants that protect your body from free-radical damage. One cup of baked sweet potato with the skin provides loads of healthy beta-carotene.
While this list highlights powerhouse foods, eating a variety of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, nut milk, organic dairy products, and plant-based vegan foods all are a healthy way to live and eat!
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*Originally published on November 2, 2019.
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