- Kale and spinach. These two calcium and iron-rich leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense veggies out there. Kale is a great source of vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health and helps to strengthen the immune system. A serving of kale also a good source of fiber and has almost as much vitamin C as an orange. Spinach is also rich in lutein, which may prevent heart attacks and age-related blindness.
- Quinoa. Packed with fiber and protein, quinoa is one of the best whole grains you can eat. In fact, it is the only grain that is also a complete protein, and tastes just as delicious in a sweet breakfast!
- Fish. Eating fish can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. Fish like salmon, herring and sardines (the latter of which also contain the lowest levels of mercury) provide the most heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
- Beans. Legumes like black beans, kidney beans, and lentils can provide as much as 17 grams of fiber in one cup, and are also a great source of protein if you’re a vegetarian. They’re also loaded with key nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and studies link beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancer.
- Nuts. Nuts like walnuts and almonds are high in fiber and protein. Walnuts are rich in healthy omega 3s just like fish (making them a great vegetarian alternative to fish), and almonds contain high levels of monosaturated fat, which both help to lower LDL cholesterol and fight heart disease. So while nuts are high in calories and fat, when they are eaten in moderation their health benefits can’t be beat.
- Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are one of the very best sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A, an essential vitamin that protects our eyes, skin, and respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts.
- Blueberries. These little berries pack a big nutritional punch. Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants that have been shown to improve vision and brain function, reduce inflammation, fight aging, and even prevent cancer.
- Steel-Cut Oatmeal. These healthy whole grain oats are high in soluble fiber, which helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Apples. There’s a lot of truth to the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are packed with powerful antioxidants, which protect cells from damage and in turn prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. As an added bonus, apples are high in fiber, which helps keep you full longer.
- Fat-free Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is also a wonderful source of calcium, protein, and immune-boosting probiotics (a.k.a. the good bacteria in your digestive tract).
I truly find that I feel better and more energized after a healthy and nutrient-rich meal. (via Lauren Conrad)