Food trends come and go, but healthy eating remains a top priority for many people. In 2023, we’re seeing a return to wholesome ingredients and more plant-based foods, says Taub-Dix. We’re also seeing an uptick in creative ways to get more vegetables and fruits on our plates, she adds. “The emphasis on plant-based eating has spawned new ways to welcome more fruits and veggies,” she says, noting the uptick in smoothie bowls with kale, avocado sauces for chicken, and cauliflower mashes.
The most important thing to remember is that no single food will solve all your health problems, and a balanced diet is key. Eating a variety of nutritious foods can help ensure you get the right amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, while helping to control weight, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and more.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are loaded with health-boosting vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, C and K, calcium, iron, fiber and potassium. They’re also rich in dietary nitrates, which can help lower blood pressure and improve the function of cells that line the blood vessels. In addition, a number of studies have linked increased leafy green vegetable intake with a lower risk for heart disease.
Another heart-healthy superfood is beans and other legumes, which are high in soluble fiber and resistant starch, both of which help to lower blood sugar levels after meals and promote satiety. They’re also a good source of protein and dietary fatty acids, especially the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. Plus, they contain tryptophan, which promotes healthy serotonin production.
A heart-healthy diet is also essential for lowering your risk of cancer, as certain nutrients may protect against the development of certain types of cancer. For instance, the phytochemical sulforaphane in broccoli is thought to thwart cancer by triggering your body’s natural detoxifying enzymes. To reap the benefits of this veggie powerhouse, eat it raw or cooked (think steamed broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale) regularly.
Other powerful foods to include are healthy fats, which can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as whole grains, which are high in heart-healthy fiber. Also, be sure to get plenty of calcium, which can help prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone strength as you age. The best sources of calcium are dairy products, such as low-fat milk, yogurt and fortified orange juice, as well as dark leafy greens, açai and chia seeds. To maximize your daily calcium intake, choose foods that are fortified or made with added calcium, such as fortified breakfast cereals, soymilk and tofu. You can also fortify your own homemade snacks, such as granola with added calcium and peanut butter or DIY energy bites with nut butter and chocolate. Be sure to check the label for added sodium and sugar, which can negatively affect health.