If you've ever felt like you needed a degree in nutritional science to shop for healthy foods and prepare dinner, you're not alone. Trendy ingredients quickly get into the media headlines and all the buzz around them can make you feel like you absolutely have to incorporate them into your diet.
Although most of these popular foods can be quite healthy, there are plenty of kitchen staples that are familiar, readily available, easy to cook, and full of health benefits. Let's have a look at five simple healthy foods that are not only good sources of important nutrients, but can also be conveniently incorporated into daily meals:
Everybody knows that apples are nutritional powerhouses full of vitamins and minerals. Apples can also be a good source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance that acts as a binding agent and takes excess cholesterol out of your body. Soluble fiber may also improve digestion and bowel regularity, and it can help you feel full longer, which may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight.
We often think of citrus fruits as the best sources of vitamin C, but did you know that, when consumed raw, bell peppers can also be an excellent source of this essential nutrient? Vitamin C is needed by the body to repair and maintain tissue, cartilage, bones, and teeth. It is also an antioxidant, can protect cells against damage caused by free radicals, and may support immune function.
Lentils are rich in protein and fiber — a combination that makes them a low-glycemic food. Low-glycemic foods raise blood glucose levels less than medium- or high-glycemic foods, and they can also help you feel full longer. These foods may also help balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation. In addition, a study conducted by Lund University in Sweden showed that low-glycemic foods can have a positive effect on brain function after a meal.
Oily fish, such as salmon, can be an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid, which is also known as healthy fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for both brain and cell structure. Numerous studies have noted their benefits for maintaining good health. For example, the results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition support the fact that omega-3s can protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration. Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition indicates that the increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with lower levels of inflammation.
Sweet potatoes are full of important nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, and more. They are also high in the phytochemical called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is used by the body to produce vitamin A, which is needed for the formation and maintenance of mucous membranes, skin, and bone.
These five foods staples may not be as glamorous as some of the latest trendy ingredients, but they are just as nutritious and good for you, which is why you shouldn't ignore simple foods that have been around forever. Going back to basics and rediscovering traditional healthy foods can help you to improve your diet while also opening the door to tasty new recipes.