Congratulations on your decision to eat healthy! But as you push your cart down the aisle of the grocery store, how do you make healthier choices? How do you choose the best foods to fuel and nourish your body?
Simple, start with the most nutritionally dense foods as your best choices for more nutrition from fewer calories. Nutritionally speaking, these foods give you the “biggest bang for your buck” as they contain the highest nutritional value including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants per calorie. Including nutrient dense foods regularly in your diet is also an excellent way to start eating clean for optimum health and wellness.
Here is a short list of some of the best nutrient dense foods and why they should be a part of your healthy diet:
- Kale sets the standard for nutritional density with the highest protein content of any vegetable and loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C and K. In addition, kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin to support vision. Kale also contains more calcium per gram than milk! Kale and many other raw vegetables are among the best natural foods that cleanse your body. Add kale to your salads and smoothies.
- Flax Seeds are a rich source of phytonutrients called lignans or polyphenols that provide us with healthy antioxidant benefits. Flax seeds also supply omega-3 essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and minerals such as copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium. Adding flax seeds or flaxseed oils to baked goods, salads and smoothies will provide an added boost of healthy benefits.
- Blueberries are rich in antioxidants which combat the free radicals in your body, that can damage cells. Fresh blueberries provide you with great flavor and the greatest nutritional benefits, and can be added to oatmeal, yoghurt or smoothies.
- Basil contains flavonoids and volatile oils. Flavonoids are another powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from the effects of free-radicals. Basil also contains oils that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and may prove beneficial to those fighting infection or chronic arthritis.
- Carrots contain carotenoids and beta-carotene known for their antioxidant benefits. Recent research has identified phytonutrients in carrots called polyacetylenes that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Add carrots to salads, shred them into baked goods, steam them as a side dish, or blend and juice them.
- Fresh Salmon is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein. The fish is also rich in the micronutrients magnesium, potassium, and selenium, as well as all the B-vitamins and the antioxidant astaxanthin. Consider wild-caught Alaskan salmon as it is lower in contaminants. Avoid most farm raised salmon which are fed grain products like GMO corn, soy and chicken waste products.
- Grass-fed Beef comes from cows grazed in pasture year-round instead of being force-fed GMO soy, corn or similar modified and processed grains. In addition to force feeding, most of the beef in the store are raised in confined space where they receive periodic doses of hormones and antibiotics. Grass feeding increases omega-3 fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and conjugated linoleic acid. Grass-fed beef has been shown to contain twice the level of beta-carotene and lutein that is present in conventional beef. If the lean protein source in your diet is going to be beef, then choose grass-fed.
Choosing nutritionally dense foods is an excellent step toward a healthy way of eating. Be sure to include a variety of nutrient dense foods from each food group to maximize your nutrient intake. These nutrient dense foods are great sources of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals, making them awsome disease-fighting foods as well.