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Healthy Foods To Include In Your Diet

Updated on February 21, 2014

What's the real story?

Depending on who you ask, you'll get a different answer as to what the healthiest foods are for you to include in your diet.  Some people think that fruits and vegetables are the way to go.  Some people focus on the types of grains and beans they eat.  Others talk about cutting sugar out of the diet and everything else is fair game. 

When you consult the media, there is much controversy.  Some websites indicate that the berries are the best bet.  Others say that the leafy greens are the way to go: an opinion that transcends time. 

The foods listed below are from a cross-section of multiple resources ranging from medical and health websites to lifestyle and diet sources.  After reading around twenty articles about what is healthiest, the following foods showed up on all the lists and rose to the top.  These are the foods that I would determine as the healthiest.

Broccoli
Broccoli | Source
Garlic
Garlic | Source

The Winners

Many people would correctly assume that vegetables would top this list. By far, two vegetables stand out as being the healthiest for the human body.

Broccoli ~ One of the reasons broccoli tops the list of healthiest vegetables is because it provides us with indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane which help protect against breast cancer. In addition, broccoli contains high quantities of vitamin C and beta-carotene. The best way to cook broccoli is to microwave or steam it to preserve phytonutrients, an organic component of plants found to promote human health.

Spinach ~ Right behind broccoli is spinach which is also seen as a healthy vegetable for humans to consume. Spinach contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids that help fend off macular degeneration which leads to loss of sight for the elderly. Spinach is also known to reverse some signs of aging.

Garlic ~ Often seen more as a spice, garlic is a vegetable that provides humans with sulfur compounds that lower LDL or bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and your risk of stomach and colon cancer.


Mixed Berries
Mixed Berries | Source

Another category of foods that people would assume is good for human health is fruits. The best thing to do is to eat fresh fruit. If you are looking to get your fruit dose through juice, you might want to educate yourself about the sugars found in fruit juices as well as what it means for a drink to contain less than 100% juice.

Berries ~ All berries, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries contain ellagic acid which helps slow down cancer-cell growth. The phytochemicals and flavonoids in berries specifically help prevent cancer. Some of the best known phytochemicals are carotenoids, such as beta carotene, lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin. Flavonoids, including  quercetin, anthocyanins and hesperidin, are another classification of phytochemicals which include compounds such as quercetin, anthocyanins and hesperidin. All the chemicals act as antioxidants. As an extra bonus, berries also contain large amounts of vitamin C and fiber which help prevent heart disease and high cholesterol.

Avocado
Avocado

Avocados ~ The Oleic acid in avocados helps lower overall cholesterol. In addition, avocados also contain a good amount of fiber. They also act as a "nutrient booster" by allowing the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the avocados.

Tomato ~ The antioxidant in tomatoes is Lycopene, one of the strongest carotenoids humans consume. Tomatoes assist in reducing the risk of colon, bladder, and stomach cancer by 50% if eaten daily.

Lemon ~ Many people don't think of lemons as fruits that are outstandingly healthy. The limonen, furocoumarins, and vitamin C found in lemons all help prevent cancer. The citric acid in lemons helps aid digestion. Like other citrus fruits, lemons also provide humans with ascorbic acid which acts as an antioxidant .



Potatoes of every kind
Potatoes of every kind | Source

In addition to fruits and vegetables, other foods are also good for people to consider adding to their diets. These include nuts, tubers, and beans.

Beans ~ All beans are healthy for people to eat. Beans are low in saturated fat and sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. There is also a good amount of protein, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, copper and manganese.

Sweet Potatoes ~ Sweet potatoes are the healthiest of all the tubers or root vegetables. They contain high levels of carotenoids. When acting as antioxidants, carotenoids have been shown to reduce the damage caused by other molecules called free radicals. A large amount of carotenoids may also prevent cell, tissue, and genetic damage. This means they might increase your immunity to infection, reduce risk of cancer, and protect against heart disease.

Walnuts ~ At the top of the healthy nut list are walnuts.   They provide people with omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce cholesterol and fight cancer.  Walnuts also help improve mood.  Walnuts are also one of the best sources of protein from a plant.  They are also rich in fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium.

Salmon
Salmon | Source

When it comes to the "meat" category, seafood is at the top of the list. Although crustaceans and shellfish are healthy, the best seafood for humans to consume falls in the fish category.

Salmon ~ This reddish-orange fish is the healthiest of all the meats. Salmon is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, the same thing that makes walnuts healthy. In addition to fighting the signs of aging, omega-3 fatty acids lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of stroke. They also reduce joint pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, improve bone density and cognitive functioning in children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and may reduce the risk of certain cancers and age-related eye diseases.

The Healthiest Foods to Eat

How many of these foods do you include in your daily diet??

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