Whether you’re hoping to bolster your immune system, strengthen your heart, improve your mood, or sharpen your mind, incorporating some of the healthiest foods on earth into your diet will give your body the high-quality fuel it needs to help you feel your best.
Next time you stop by the supermarket, consider filling your cart with foods that are not only delicious but packed with health-promoting powers that can help you live your happiest and healthiest life.
When it comes to fish, salmon is a prize catch! It’s brimming with omega-3 fatty acids. Not only do these healthy fats keep your skin glowing, but they also help guard against cardiac and circulatory problems. In addition, salmon is an excellent source of protein. Try This: Go wild! Wild-caught salmon has less exposure to contaminants and is more nutritious than its farmed Atlantic counterpart.
Members of the legume family—kidney, garbanzo, red, and black beans—are a fantastic source of folate, fiber, and plant-based protein. Red beans in particular are a good source of phosphorus, iron, and potassium. Best of all, you don't need the forethought and hours of time to cook dried beans; all kinds of beans are just as nutritious right out of the can (just rinse them in the colander, first)! Try This: In the mood for Mexican? Enjoy a variety of beans in chili, or add them to burritos, nachos, or tacos.
No nuts about it—whether we’re talking walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds, nuts are a superb source of plant protein. They are also full of monounsaturated fats, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Try This: Sprinkle chopped nuts on oatmeal or yogurt as a protein-packed snack. Or, keep a handful in your bag for a nutritious snack on the go.
Whether you serve it on toast or whip it into a dip, avocado is a real guac star when it comes to nutrition. It’s packed with monounsaturated fats, folate, and Vitamin B6. Just one half-cup serving gives you almost 20 percent of your daily dose of fiber. Try This: Spread ripe avocado on your sandwich or slice it into your rice bowl.
The deep yellow-orange flesh of this root vegetable is a beta-carotene powerhouse. The darker the color, the richer your veggie is in this antioxidant. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which may help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Sweet potato is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. Try This: For a simple, savory dish, oven-roast diced sweet potato with olive oil, herbs, and sea salt until slightly charred along the edges.
Along with being a great source of calcium and protein, yogurt is also rich in active live cultures like Lactobacillus, L. acidophilus, S. thermophilus, and L. bulgaricus. These probiotics help balance out your gut microbiome to aid digestion and improve immunity. Try This: Avoid flavored or fruit yogurt, which is often loaded with sugar. Instead, buy plain yogurt and add your own sweet toppings, like berries or a drizzle of honey. You can also use plain yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise in sauces and dips.
High in fiber and naturally sweet, berries are jam-packed with antioxidants and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Better yet, they’re just as nutritious in their frozen form, which means you can enjoy their health benefits any time of year. Try This: Stir lightly thawed berries into hot oatmeal to cool it down while adding just the right amount of juicy sweetness to your breakfast bowl.
When it comes to healthy foods, eggs are pretty hard to beat. These self-contained sources of complete protein are packed with 13 essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also among the best dietary sources of choline, which pregnant people should consume because it aids in fetal brain and spinal cord development. Try This: Skip the protein bars—hard-boiled eggs are a perfectly portable snack that will keep your blood sugar levels stable.
We don’t say, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” for nothing. Fresh, whole apples are full of gut-healthy anti-inflammatory properties. Apple skin is an excellent source of the antioxidants quercetin, an anti-carcinogenic flavonoid, and pectin, a soluble fiber. The sweetly tart flesh is rich in vitamin C to shore up your immune system. Try This: Enjoy apple slices with a dollop of nut butter. They also taste great with slivers of sharp cheddar.
Besides being a brilliant source of folate, fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C, broccoli is also a key source of vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting. Try This: Quick-steam broccoli florets for five to ten minutes until tender. You can also roast them with olive oil, sea salt, garlic, crushed red pepper, and feta for a bold burst of flavor.
Lovers of Italian food everywhere will be happy to learn that tomatoes are just as nutritious as they are delicious. The scarlet star of sauces is particularly rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that becomes even more potent in health benefits after cooking and processing. Regular lycopene intake may help prevent skin damage, heart disease, and certain cancers. Try This: Enjoy that Caprese salad—studies have shown that serving fresh, uncooked tomatoes with olive oil vastly improves lycopene absorption.
Though it looks (and cooks) like a grain, quinoa is the seed of a herbaceous plant. Not only is it high in fiber, but it's also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids and offers the same satiety and energy as meat. Try This: Replace any grain with cooked quinoa for a protein-rich, gluten-free alternative.
Pumpkins go above and beyond a Halloween decoration. Just a single serving of this fall favorite is packed with potassium, a key ingredient in heart health, as well as eye-loving vitamin A, antioxidants, fiber, and cancer-fighting carotenoids. Try This: Don’t toss those seeds! A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds delivers lots of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. They make a great salad or smoothie topper or are perfect on their own.
This heart-healthy whole grain is more than just a breakfast table staple. Oats are rich in the soluble fiber beta-glucan and anti-inflammatory avenanthramide, which together can help prevent obesity-related health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Try This: Although quick oats are awesome if you're short on time, steel-cut oats are the least processed. They take longer to cook, but they also take longer to digest, helping you feel fuller for longer.
This ruby-hued root is a nutritional knockout. Beets punch above their weight in potassium, nitrate, and antioxidant content to aid circulation, lower blood pressure, and fight inflammation. They also contain fibers that act as prebiotics, which enhance the effect of “good bacteria” on gut health. Try This: Don’t throw out the leaves! They’re edible. Saute them with butter, sea salt, and garlic for a spinach-like side.
For something that makes food so delicious, garlic also boasts quite the impressive nutrient profile. For centuries, people have relied on this pungent bulb to ward off disease and alleviate cold and flu symptoms. It turns out they were on to something. Garlic contains antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal compounds that turbocharge the immune system and fight inflammation. Try this: Crushing and chopping a garlic clove and then letting it rest for about 15 minutes before cooking will release allicin, an anti-inflammatory enzyme.
Long considered one of the superfoods, spinach is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and heart-healthy folate. Want to get the most out of this dark leafy green? Don’t eat it raw! Instead, steam spinach before serving to help your body absorb its many benefits. Try this: Baby spinach cooks and shrinks quickly once you heat it, so add a few handfuls to simmering soups and stews a minute or so before serving.
A staple of the Mediterranean diet since ancient times, this fragrant oil is as good for you as it is delicious! Extra virgin olive oil is an outstanding source of vitamin E, polyphenols, and monounsaturated fatty acids, which promote cardiovascular health and combat degenerative diseases. Try This: Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over pizza and pasta dishes for extra oomph, or pour a little on a plate and dip freshly baked bread into it.
Pucker up—this sour citrus fruit is packed with powerful antioxidants, containing an entire day’s worth of immune-boosting vitamin C. The polyphenols in lemon might also offer anti-aging benefits. Try This: Add a sliver of lemon to your water bottle or cup of tea for a burst of vitamin-rich flavor.
The cacao in dark chocolate has a high concentration of anti-inflammatory flavonoids, which have a positive impact on mood, memory, cognition, and immunity. The higher the concentration of cacao, the stronger these effects are. Try This: Choose chocolate that's at least 70% cocoa for maximum benefits.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.