You want to eat a healthy diet, but sometimes it’s tough to know where to start.
Incorporate these 10 ingredients into your meals and you’ll be off in the right direction.
Broccoli. This little green vegetable packs a strong punch of superpowers. It helps your body fight off inflammation, lowers cholesterol and repairs skin damage. Eat it raw to get the maximum benefits.
Steel-cut oatmeal. Start your day right with steel-cut oatmeal, which doesn’t have the additives of other types of oatmeal. What it does have is beta-glucan, a fiber that lowers levels of “bad” cholesterol. To add other flavors, try blueberries, walnuts and cinnamon.
Quinoa. The seeds of this plant (not a grain, although it looks like one) have gained in popularity in the U.S. over the past few years, and for good reason—quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein food.
Salmon. Salmon (and other cold-water, fatty fish) is an excellent source of omega-3s, a fatty acid our bodies need to survive. Without enough, you may experience fatigue, poor circulation, mood swings and memory problems.
Blueberries. This aptly named little berry is brimming with antioxidants that fight free radicals, those dastardly molecules that damage cells and speed up the aging process. Some research suggests that blueberries may help blast abdominal fat, the kind that’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Avocados. Known for containing the “good” kind of fat (monounsaturated), avocados are a filling way to reduce cholesterol and get a good intake of folate, which helps with heart health. Slice up an avocado and put it in a salad—you’ll feel more satiated, and the avocado can help you absorb more of the nutrients from the other ingredients.
Beans. Keep your heart healthy by eating plenty of low-fat, protein-rich beans, which can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There are lots of kinds to choose from—think black beans, pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas. If you get beans in a can, rinse them well to reduce sodium.
Lemons. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade (just don’t add too much sugar!). Or, add a slice to a glass of water or spritz some on fish. Lemons are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and phosphorus; they’ve been shown to help cleanse the digestive system, keep dizziness at bay and prevent infection.
Nonfat Greek yogurt. The superstar of the dairy category, yogurt can clear up gastrointestinal issues thanks to its probiotics. Compared with regular yogurt, its Greek counterpart has less sugar, more protein and a creamier, thicker consistency.
Kale. While not as popular as other green, leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach, kale deserves its due for a number of reasons, including a high vitamin A content. That’s good for the eyes and skin, as well as the immune system. It also contains lutein, another eye-health promoter.