Last week I asked my friends on Facebook to list their favorite healthy foods. I had some really good responses, and it was a great way to continue this fitness blog’s conversation about healthy living on that social network.
In fact, the responses were so good that I decided to write an article about them. I realize that some of you might not be fans of my Facebook page yet, and I don’t want you to miss out on these fantastic additions to your nutrition plan.
In no particular order, check out some of these great foods and let me know what you think. Are they already in your nutrition plan? Are you going to try them for the first time? Do you think they’re yucky? There’s room for all opinions here!
1. Kale – One of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. Kale belongs to the same family as cabbage, broccoli, collards, and Brussels sprouts. One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K.
2. Acorn Squash – A nice, sweet-tasting winter squash, but it belongs to the same species as all summer squashes, such as zucchini. Acorn squash is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese.
3. Spinach – What else can I say about spinach that hasn’t already been covered in my article Spinach vs. Lettuce? Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. It’s a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, and copper. Plus, it’s a good source of selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Beets – A rather sweet vegetable that comes from the same family as chard, spinach and quinoa. Beets are an excellent source of hearth-healthy folate and a very good source of the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C as well as heart-healthy potassium. Beets are a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
5. Brussels Sprouts – These belong to the cabbage family and actually resemble little cabbages. Many people avoid Brussels sprouts due to memories of bitter flavor. The trick is to not overcook them and to eat them as fresh as possible. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Additionally, they are a very good source of folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, protein, molybdenum, magnesium, vitamin B2, vitamin E, calcium, and niacin.
6. Pears – Sweet, grainy-textured fruit that is in the same family as apples. Pears are high in fiber and are also a good source of vitamin C and copper.
7. Dark Chocolate – Chocolate in a list of nutritious foods? Well, studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure, and dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 10%. Moderation is the key. Most of the studies done with dark chocolate used no more than 3.5 ounces.
8. Asparagus – A nutrient-dense food that is high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, and thiamin. Asparagus is an anti-inflammatory food and has a variety of antioxidant nutrients.
Is there anything not on this list that you feel should be included?
Do you have any recipes that include any of these foods? Please share in the comments below.