The healthiest foods and diets focus on real, whole foods: lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats and limited sugar and sodium. While some foods may be labeled as bad, like red meat or canned fruits and veggies, they aren’t necessarily unhealthy in small amounts if they’re eaten along with other nutritious foods.
Eating a wide variety of foods can help prevent overeating and can provide a range of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which are plant compounds with antioxidant and other properties that support gut and immune system health. In addition to the 10 superfoods featured below, dietitians also recommend eating fish and seafood, yogurt, berries and dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens).
Yogurt is high in probiotic bacteria and calcium. Look for plain varieties without added sugar and choose Greek-style if you can, as this type has more protein. Try combining plain yogurt with fruit for an easy breakfast parfait, use it to make homemade granola, or mix it into smoothies and dips for snacks.
Legumes are a great plant-based source of protein, iron and fiber. While they do contain antinutrients that can interfere with digestion and nutrient absorption, these can be reduced or eliminated by soaking and cooking beans properly. Choose a variety of beans, such as black beans, lentils, white beans and kidney beans, and enjoy them in salads, soups, chili or on their own for a healthy meal.
Eggs were once demonized for being high in cholesterol, but research now shows that eggs are a highly nutritious food that should be included in a balanced diet. They are high in protein, vitamin C, zinc, folate and choline.
Yogurt is another good source of calcium, especially when it comes from grass-fed cows. It’s high in protein and contains many other essential nutrients, such as riboflavin, potassium, folate, phosphorus and vitamins D and K2. Yogurt is delicious on its own, or pair it with fruits, vegetables or a handful of nuts for a nutritious snack.
Aim for seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, ideally colorful and a variety of types. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries and more are all rich in vitamin C and other disease-fighting compounds. Strawberries are also low in calories and saturated fat, and offer a significant amount of potassium.