One way to immediately turn your health situation around is through the foods you choose to eat. Here are nine foods that you'll want to make part of your daily diet.
Bring on the BerriesBerries not only give your memory a big boost the “are an excellent source of antioxidants and water-soluble vitamins,” says Julia Hincman, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“They are important for the prevention of cancer and to maintain your weight.”
They may also lower your risk of coronary heart disease. One of the many studies done on the benefits of berries looked at blueberries, a known powerhouse. Researchers found that all their benefits remained even after cooking. The serving size is one-half cup of fresh berries (or one-quarter cup if they are dried).
Get Lots of Leafy Greens
“The more colorful the vegetables — and fruits — the more nutrients you’re going to get in your diet,”says Hincman.
And green leafy veggies, like turnip, collard and mustard greens, kale, Chinese cabbage, and spinach, all rich sources of vitamins and minerals, are a great place to start. Many are also a good source of iron, important for women’s health, especially after menopause. One serving of cooked leafy greens — a half a cup — is not a lot, considering that just around two and one half cups of veggies, or five servings in total, is all you need each day.
Add Omega-3 Fatty AcidsIt sounds counter-intuitive, but fatty fish are actually good for you because they deliver omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), fats with cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits. While fish oil capsules will help you meet your PUFA needs, studies have found that fish itself offers even more nutritional benefits, including vitamin D, selenium, and antioxidants. Among the best choices are salmon, albacore tuna, herring, and trout. Recommendations are for 1 gram of PUFAs daily for people with coronary heart disease and at least 250 to 500 mg daily for those who want to prevent it.
Serve Up Some Whole Grains
“Whole grains help with digestion and are excellent for your heart, regularity [because of the fiber content], and maintaining a steady level of blood sugar,”
“They are also a great source of energy to power you throughout the day.”
Whole grains, such as oats, also help improve cholesterol levels. While food manufacturers are adding fiber to all sorts of products, whole grains, like whole wheat, rye, and bran, need to be the first ingredient on the food label of packaged foods, she stresses. Watch your serving sizes, however. Current guidelines are for six one-ounce equivalent servings per day (five if you’re over 50). One ounce of whole-wheat pasta (weighed before cooking) is only one-half cup cooked.
“Nuts are a great source of protein and monounsaturated fatty acids,”
says Hincman, as well as much needed vitamin E. Examples of great choices include walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. Nuts are also very calorie-dense, however, so you need only a palmful for good nutrition and to feel satisfied — just one-half ounce of nuts is considered equivalent to one ounce of a typical protein choices, like chicken or beef. Hincman suggests extending the volume in a serving of nuts by adding in raisins or dried cranberries.