There are certain foods that are more nutritious than others because of their tremendous health benefits. They are loaded with essential nutrients and antioxidants and have a protective effect against a range of diseases. These foods are the real heroes of a balanced diet and you must include them in your regular diet to cherish good health and vitality. The five most healthful foods are:
Berries are the healthiest foods you can eat. They are commonly also known as a superfood because of their tremendous health benefits.
These are small fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and the very important antioxidants, which reduce the risk of inflammation by keeping the free-radicals under control. They have anti-inflammatory effects and fights infections.
Studies have shown that blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and strawberries have the highest antioxidant activity among commonly consumed fruits.
Although dozens of varieties exist, some of the most common are:
- Black Current
- Mulberry (Shahtoot)
- Gooseberries (Amla)
They all delicious, colorful, nutritious, and provide a number of health benefits. The best part is they can be included in almost all kinds of diets, whether it is a ketogenic diet, Paleo diet, Atkins diet, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet or vegan diet, etc.
Nowadays, these berries are widely available, and you can also store it in the deep freezer for use
when they are not in season.
2. Green Leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals along with antioxidants and phytochemicals.
They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, zinc as well as many antioxidants and phytochemicals. They also add essential dietary fiber to the diet.
Eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables has many health benefits including its immunity-boosting properties, reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and, obesity, and improve overall health and wellness.
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Here are some wonder greens you can add in your diets:
- Fenugreek leaves
- Amaranth Leaves
- Lettuce leaves
- Collard Greens
- Swiss chard
- Bok Choy
- Turnip Greens
Fortunately, many of these green leafy vegetables can be found year-round, and they can easily be added into our diet — in many delicious and varied ways such as adding in your morning green smoothie, shakes, juices or throwing some greens in your omelette or just sautéed green veggies as a side dish or add in your main dish choice is all yours.
Just make sure to add a variety of these leafy greens in your diet to reap those impressive health benefits.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are very popular, tasty, convenient food. Despite being high in fat and calories, they have numerous health benefits. They are a very good source of plant protein and thus majorly a popular protein source in vegan and vegetarian diets. They also contain heart-healthy fats MUFA (monounsaturated fats), and fibre which can be a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. They are also a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, iron, folate, and selenium. They may also aid weight-loss despite its high-calorie count.
They are also packed with various plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can protect against free-radical damage. Research has also shown that eating nuts
and seeds can have a protective effect against heart disease.
Here are some of the most commonly consumed nuts and seeds:
Nuts – Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Macadamia nuts, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine nuts, Pistachios, Walnuts
Seeds- Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, basil seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds,
Eating nuts and seeds on a regular basis improves health in many ways, such as by reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease and metabolic syndrome, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. As long as you eat them in moderation, nuts and seeds make for a tasty addition to a healthy and balanced diet.
4. Herbs and Spices:
Herbs and spices are also an important part of the culinary world not just for adding flavor, aroma, and colour but also to protect our body from disease and offer a variety of health benefits, including improved digestion and mental health.
Herbs are the green, leafy parts of plants. They are most efficacious, aromatic and flavoursome when used fresh such as basil, coriander, mint, thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, etc. Whereas, spices are derived from any part of a plant that is not a leaf, such as cloves are flower buds, cinnamon is bark, ginger is a root, black pepper are berries, cumin is a fruit.
Since ancient, they are being used in Ayurveda for their medicinal properties and health benefits. Herbs and spices are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and adaptogen (help in stress management) properties. They can also boost the resistance to infection and regulate the body’s immune responses. They may also aid in digestion, increase metabolism and thus help in weight management and also treat nausea.
Some commonly used spices and herbs are:
Herbs: Basil, Mint, Thyme, rosemary, coriander leaves, oregano, fennel, chives, dill, parsley, sage, curry leaves, bay leaves, etc.
Spices – Cardamom, Black pepper, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds, turmeric, fennel, cinnamon, cumin, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, clove, nutmeg, saffron, fenugreek, etc.
Cooking with herbs and spices not only enhances flavour and adds depth to a number of foods but also lessens the urge to shake the salt, sugar or fat. So use a combination of these herbs and spices in your diet to extract its maximum health benefits.
Don’t underestimate the health benefits of water. In fact, our bodies are around 70% water. It is majorly involved in flushing out waste from your body (urination, perspiration, sweating, and defecation), regulating body temperature, lubricating and cushioning joints, tissues and spinal cord
and helping the brain function.
Drinking water helps you maintain our state of wellbeing and even improve overall health and physical performance in certain conditions like while exercising. Dehydration can negatively impact our physical performance and our body can suffer by altered body temperature control, increased fatigue and less stamina, both physically and mentally.
Hydration also plays an important role in the effect on energy levels and brain function. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration (approx. 1-3% of body weight) can alter the brain function and can lead to altered mood, lack of concentration, anxiety, fatigue, and headache.
It also helps with nutrient digestion and absorption by dissolving vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from our food. Drinking water also increases metabolism. A boost in metabolism has been associated with a positive impact on energy levels and weight loss. It also keeps your skin hydrated and may promote collagen production.
Water is important to nearly every part of our body. Thus, staying hydrated is important. Drink at least 8-12 glasses (250ml each) of water every day to be hydrated throughout the day.
These plant-based foods are diverse, each providing strong and unique flavour and numerous health benefits. As with any healthful ingredients, these foods must be a staple part of a balanced and nutritious diet. So start adding the above foods to your diet from today to reap their health benefits.