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The 15 Healthiest Foods

This article lists the 15 foods that sources and studies across the United States and Western Europe deem the most healthy. They include nuts, lentils, apples, broccoli, oatmeal, and eggs.


A balanced diet is the secret to healthful eating. Hopefully this article will encourage you to incorporate more of the foods intro your existing diet.



Nuts, pulses, and grains


Nuts, pulses, and grains are all highly nutritious. The following are some of the most healthful:


1. Almonds


Almonds provide plenty of nutrients, including:

One 2019 meta-analysis found that consuming almonds significantly reduced total cholesterol levels.


 

2. Brazil nuts


Brazil nuts are some of the most healthful nuts available.


They are an excellent source of both protein and carbohydrates, and they also provide good amounts of vitamin B-1, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.


Brazil nuts also contain more selenium than many other foods. Selenium is a vital mineral for maintaining thyroid function and it is a great antioxidant for the human body.


These nuts come in a hard shell and are usually available ready to eat, making them a quick, nutritious snack.


 

3. Lentils


A lentil is a pulse that features prominently in many food cultures around the world, including those of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.


Lentils provide good amounts of fibre, magnesium, and potassium.


They tend to require a long cooking time. However, manufacturers can sprout the seeds, making them a delicious, healthful, ready-to-eat snack.


Adding a container of sprouted lentils to a lunchbox or picnic basket, perhaps with some chilli powder or pepper for flavouring, makes for a delicious and healthful snack.


 

4. Oatmeal


Interest in oatmeal has increased considerably during the past 20 years because of its health benefits.


In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed that foods with high levels of rolled oats or oat bran could include data on the label about their cardiovascular health benefits as part of a low fat diet.


This led to a surge in oatmeal’s popularity. Research has found that the cereal’s soluble fibre content helps lower cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.


Oats contain complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fibre. These slow down digestion and help stabilise levels of blood glucose. Oatmeal is also a good source of folate and potassium.


People can make oatmeal from rolled or ground oats. Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.


 

5. Wheat germ


Wheat germ is the part of wheat that grows into a plant. It is essentially the embryo of a seed. Germ, along with bran, is a byproduct of milling. Refining cereals often removes the germ and bran content.


Whole grain products, however, still contain the germ and bran. This makes them a more healthful choice.


Wheat germ is high in several vital nutrients, including:


  • fibre

  • vitamin E

  • folic acid

  • thiamin

  • zinc

  • magnesium

  • phosphorus

  • fatty alcohols

  • essential fatty acids


 

Fruits, vegetables, and berries


Fruits, vegetables, and berries are easy to incorporate into the diet. The following are some of the most healthful:


6. Broccoli


Broccoli provides good amounts of fibre, calcium, potassium, folate, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds that reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Broccoli also provides essential antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. In fact, a single half-cup serving of broccoli can provide around 85% of a person’s daily vitamin C value.

Another compound in broccoli, called sulforaphane, may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory qualities, according to one 2019 study.


However, overcooking broccoli can destroy many of its key nutrients. For this reason, it is best to eat it raw or lightly steamed.


 

7. Apples


Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, which combat free radicals. Free radicals are damaging substances that the body generates. They cause undesirable changes in the body and may contribute to chronic conditions, as well as the ageing process.


However, some studies have suggested that an antioxidant in apples might extend a person’s life span and reduce the risk of chronic disease.


 

8. Kale


Kale is a leafy green vegetable that offers a wide range of different nutrients. For example, this powerfully nutritious plant is an excellent source of vitamins C and K.

People can cook or steam kale. They can also blend it into smoothies or juices for a nutritional kick.


 

9. Blueberries


Blueberries provide substantial amounts of fibre, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Unlike minerals and vitamins, phytonutrients are not essential for survival. However, they may help prevent disease and maintain vital bodily functions.


In a 2019 review of 16 studies, the authors suggest that consuming blueberries may help protect against cognitive decline, which may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that blueberries might help prevent cardiovascular disease.


Another 2019 study, this time in mice, found that blueberry polyphenols reduced obesity and certain metabolic risk factors. They also improved the composition of gut bacteria.


According to a 2015 clinical trial, eating 22 grams of freeze dried blueberries every day for 8 weeks led to a significant decrease in blood pressure among women with stage 1 hypertension.


 

10. Avocados


Some people avoid consuming avocados due to their high fat content. However, avocados provide healthful fats, as well as B vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Avocados are also a good source of fibre.


In one 2018 review of studies, avocados increased levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol removes more harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream.


Avocados might also have anticancer properties. A 2019 test tube study of avocados showed that coloured avocado seed extract reduced the viability of breast, colon, and prostate cancer cells.


However, the study did not indicate whether or not the effects would be the same in humans.

Avocados may also have associations with improved nutrient absorption, better overall diet, and fewer metabolic risk factors.


 

11. Spinach


One 2019 study in rats showed that consuming leafy greens for 6 weeks led to a significant reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.


Spinach is an example of a leafy green with antioxidant content, especially when it is raw, steamed, or very lightly boiled. It is a good source of the following nutrients


  • vitamins A, B-6, C, E, and K

  • selenium

  • niacin

  • zinc

  • phosphorus

  • copper

  • potassium

  • calcium

  • manganese

  • betaine

  • iron

 

12. Sweet potatoes


Sweet potatoes provide dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and potassium.


The Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes with that of several other vegetables.


Sweet potatoes ranked number one for their vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, and complex carbohydrate content.


 

Fish, Meat, and Eggs


When it comes to fish, meat, and eggs, many healthful options are available. For example:


13. Oily fish


Some examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies. These types of fish have oil in their tissues and around their gut.


Their lean fillets contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These oils may provide benefits for the heart and nervous system, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).


The ODS also suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.


They are also plentiful in vitamins A and D. One 2014 study suggested that fatty acids can significantly reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.


 

14. Chicken


Chicken is a cost effective and healthful meat. Free-range chicken serves as an excellent source of protein.


However, it is important to remember that preparation and cooking methods affect how healthy chicken is. This means that people should limit their intake of deep-fried chicken and always remove the skin before consumption. Chicken skin has high levels of saturated fat.


 

15. Eggs


Eggs are another source of protein that people can easily incorporate into a balanced diet, as they are highly versatile.


Eggs contain vitamins including B-2 and B-12, both of which are important for preserving energy and generating red blood cells. Eggs are also a good source of the essential amino acid leucine, which plays a role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Eggs also provide a good amount of choline, which is important for cell membranes.


The yolk contains most of the egg’s vitamins and minerals, as well as the fat and cholesterol. However, one 2017 review found that eating up to seven eggs per week does not increase the risk of heart disease. That said, the authors mention that people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes should seek medical consultation about including eggs in the diet.

Indeed, one study found higher rates of cardiovascular disease in people who consumed more cholesterol from eggs. Consuming fat in moderate amounts is healthful as part of a balanced, nutritious diet.


 

Balance and moderation


Including these 15 foods in the diet can provide notable health benefits. However, it is important for people to have a balanced diet that does not focus on one specific type of food.


People should remember that having an occasional treat is not going to be harmful to overall health, as long as they ensure a regular and varied intake of nutrients.



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