10 great health foods: Best
bets for eating well
health foods are some of the healthiest because they
meet at least three of the following criteria:
Are a good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins,
minerals and other nutrients
Are high in phytonutrients and antioxidant
compounds, such as vitamins A and E and beta
May help reduce the risk of heart disease and other
Are low in calorie density, meaning you get a larger
portion size with a fewer number of calories
Are readily available
Apples are an excellent source of pectin, a soluble
fiber that can lower blood cholesterol and glucose
levels. Fresh apples are also good sources of the
vitamin C - an antioxidant that protects your body's
cells from damage. Vitamin C also helps form the
connective tissue collagen, keeps your capillaries
and blood vessels healthy, and aids in the
absorption of iron and folate.
These tear-shaped nuts are packed with nutrients -
fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and calcium. In
fact, almonds have more calcium than any other nut -
70 milligrams (mg) in 23 almonds. And one serving of
almonds provides half of your body's Recommended
Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin E.
Like all nuts, almonds provide one of the best plant
sources of protein. And they're good for your heart.
Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat -
a healthier type of fat that may help lower blood
Blueberries are a rich source of plant compounds (phytonutrients).
As with cranberries, phytonutrients in blueberries
may help prevent urinary tract infections.
Blueberries may also improve short-term memory and
promote healthy aging.
Blueberries are also a low-calorie source of fiber
and vitamin C - 1 cup of fresh blueberries has 83
calories, 3.5 grams of fiber and 14 mg of vitamin C.
Besides being a good source of calcium, potassium,
folate and fiber, broccoli contains phytonutrients -
a group of compounds that may help prevent chronic
diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some
cancers. Broccoli is also a good source of vitamins
A and C - antioxidants that protect your body's
cells from damage.
Red beans - including small red beans and dark red
kidney beans - are good sources of iron, magnesium,
phosphorus, potassium, copper and thiamin. They're
also an excellent low-fat, low-calorie source of
protein and dietary fiber. Red beans also contain
phytonutrients that may help prevent chronic
diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids
- a type of fat that makes your blood less likely to
form clots that may cause heart attacks. Omega-3s
may also protect against irregular heartbeats that
may cause sudden cardiac death, decrease
triglyceride levels, decrease the growth of
artery-clogging plaques, lower blood pressure and
reduce the risk of stroke.
In addition to being an excellent source of
omega-3s, salmon is low in saturated fat and
cholesterol and is a good source of protein.
Spinach is high in vitamins A and C and folate. It's
also a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B-6,
calcium, iron and magnesium. The plant compounds in
spinach may boost your immune system and may help
keep your hair and skin healthy.
The deep orange-yellow color of sweet potatoes tells
you that they're high in the antioxidant beta
carotene. Food sources of beta carotene, which are
converted to vitamin A in your body, may help slow
the aging process and reduce the risk of some
cancers. Sweet potatoes are also good sources of
fiber, vitamins B-6, C and E, folate and potassium.
And like all vegetables, they're fat-free and
relatively low in calories - one small sweet potato
has just 54 calories.
Vegetable juice has most of the vitamins, minerals
and other nutrients found in the original vegetables
and is an easy way to include vegetables in your
diet. Tomato juice and vegetable juices, which
include tomatoes, are good sources of lycopene, an
antioxidant which may reduce the risk of heart
attack, prostate cancer and possibly other types of
cancer. Some vegetable and tomato juices are very
high in sodium, so be sure to select the low-sodium
At the center of a grain of wheat is the wheat germ
- the part of the seed that's responsible for the
development and growth of the new plant sprout.
Though only a small part of the wheat seed, the germ
is a highly concentrated source of nutrients,
including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E,
folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and
zinc. The germ also contains protein, fiber and some