Want to improve your family's nutrition? Though no one food can work magic, the following foods (or groups of foods) are packed with healthy fats, lots of fiber, and loads of vitamins and antioxidants. Benefit everyone's health by adding them to your shopping list. Then be sure to serve them to your loved ones on a regular basis.
Aside from the occasional guacamole or Cobb salad, many people avoid avocados because of their high fat content. But the type of fat in this luscious fruit is the heart-healthy monounsaturated type. Avocados are also a rich source of fiber (7 grams in half a medium-size fruit), vitamins E, C, B-6, folate, K, and potassium.
Don't think of apples as a super food? You may not know they are a rich source of many antioxidants as well as vitamin C. Along with pears and berries, they are also one of the highest-fiber fruits. Just remember to leave their skin on.
Barley is an often overlooked whole grain. Its high soluble fiber content makes it desirable for helping to prevent heart disease and manage blood sugars. Be sure to look for hulled barley, which retains most of the bran and germ of the whole grain. Pearled barley is more refined and not as nutritious.
Berries are a great source for antioxidants as well as vitamin C and potassium. They also contain higher amounts of fiber than most other fruits.
5. Leafy greens
Greens make up a family that includes spinach, collards, kale, bok choy, arugula, and romaine. Leafy greens have the distinction of being the most nutrient-dense veggies for the least amount of calories. They are also good sources of calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
6. Omega-3 rich fish
Eating fish (especially fatty fish high in omega-3) at least two times a week may help cut your risks for heart disease and stroke. Studies are also underway to see its effect on Alzheimer's and arthritis. Choose wild salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel.
7. Beans (includes beans, split peas, and lentils)
Beans combine the dynamic duo of protein and fiber. Specifically, they are high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that can lower your risk for heart disease and help control blood sugars. Other noteworthy nutrients include B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Beans are also surprisingly high in calcium.
Mushrooms may not seem like they have much to offer on the nutrition front. But they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Several potential cancer-fighting substances have also been found in shiitake mushrooms. Purified forms of these substances are being studied to see their effect on stomach and colorectal cancer. More research is needed.
9. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are good sources of monounsaturated fat. These fats can help lower your cholesterol if you substitute them for saturated fats. The protein, fiber, and healthy fat content of nuts and seeds provide a feeling of being full that can keep you from overeating. Nuts contain magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, riboflavin, iron, calcium, and vitamin E.
Pomegranates can be a little tricky to eat, but they're well worth the effort. Pomegranates have up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea. They are also rich in vitamin C and potassium.