The average person eats two or three meals a day with a few snacks in between, yet according to Medical Daily, the majority of Americans consume less than the daily recommended amount of nutrients. For many, it can be a challenge to fit all vitamins and minerals into calories consumed on a daily basis — and way too easy to stuff your plate full of not-so-great choices. Fortunately, it’s easy to bulk up your nutrient intake for the day.
If you’re one of the many people trying to eat healthier, here’s a list of 10 great sources of nutrition that are also filling, tasty and easy to fit into any diet or lifestyle (in no particular order):
- Green Tea
To kick off the list, green tea is a delicious drink filled with powerful antioxidants that may reduce the risk of many types of cancer, including breast, colorectal and prostate. It’s also been proven to increase metabolism and burn fat. Green tea contains L-theanine and caffeine, which work together to increase focus and reduce anxiety, while also protecting neurons from degeneration leading to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It’s also important to mention that green tea offers more health benefits when consumed with very little to no added sugar.
Blueberries are a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6. These help prevent heart disease and diabetes while improving digestion. Blueberries are also a great source of cancer-preventing antioxidants.
By eating just one cup of almonds, you’re consuming about 30 grams of protein, 1050 milligrams of potassium and 18 grams of fiber. Almonds can help prevent the onset of heart disease while simultaneously improving blood flow throughout the body. Almonds are also one of the best sources of vitamin E, a key nutrient that can protect your body’s cells from everyday damage.
The National Cancer Institute published findings that associated decreased cancer risks with regular garlic consumption. Garlic’s antibacterial properties may block buildup of substances that can lead to pancreatic, colon, breast, stomach and esophageal cancers. Along with being an excellent cancer-fighter, garlic is incredibly well known for its ability to reverse early heart disease. In a study published by the Journal of Nutrition, garlic has been shown to reduce plaque buildup in the arteries that lead to the heart.
- Dark Chocolate
Amazingly, one of the foods that made this list isn’t a fruit or vegetable, but a sweet treat. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the heart and brain, which results in improved cognitive function and reduced risk of stroke. This superfood also contains high levels of iron, copper and magnesium, which are elements your body needs to function properly. Unlike other treats or even chocolates lower in cacao, dark chocolate is a low glycemic index food, meaning it doesn’t cause large spikes in blood sugar. Again, it’s important to note that the lower the sugar content, the more benefits you will receive. You can look for lower sugar level in dark chocolate by checking packages for a higher percentage of cacao. The higher the percentage, the better. Look for varieties with a minimum of 70 percent cacao.
Mild-tasting and multipurpose kale is a great go-to veggie for people who want to sneak some green into their diets. One cup of the leafy green has zero fat and only 36 calories while being loaded with fiber, sulfur and vitamins A, C and K. Kale also contains omega acids, which improve hair, skin and nail health. Believe it or not, kale also contains more iron than beef, making iit perfect for those trying to add more greens or reduce red meat intake.
Seafood is a great low-fat way to get your daily recommended intake of omega acids and protein without tons of calories or unhealthy cholesterol. Halibut offers a great example since it’s packed with nutrition, including vitamin B6, which helps boost your energy levels and improves the effectiveness of your immune system.
Quinoa can punch up a salad or replace heavier starches as sides in a meal. It’s one of the few plant-based foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, and for this reason was proposed by NASA to be consumed by astronauts during long space flights. Quinoa is high in fiber and protein, making it a perfect snack for those trying to watch their weight.
- Pomegranate seeds
For those who have never opened a pomegranate, it may seem odd to learn that the edible part of the pomegranate is actually the seeds. Pomegranates must be cut open to reveal the juicy ruby red seeds inside. One cup of pomegranate seeds contains 30 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, 36 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin K and 7 grams of fiber. Pomegranate seeds have anti-inflammatory properties fueled by antioxidants, which may help to prevent many types of cancer. Don’t feel like peeling apart a pomegranate to get to the nutrients? You can also purchase bottled pomegranate juice. Just check the sugar content, and avoid juices with added sweeteners.
This tasty spice found in curry contains curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Since chronic inflammation is believed to play a role in many illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, thwarting inflammation may reduce your risk of developing these and other problems. Turmeric has also been used to aid in treatment of arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and even depression. It can be added to many meals and drinks for a bit of zing as well as nutritional benefits.
Foods to Limit (or Avoid)
Why are some foods more filling than others? To put it simply, filling foods literally fill you up more and for a longer amount of time. Foods that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates will curb your appetite for a longer period of time because they take longer to break down in the digestive tract. These foods are known as “low energy density” foods because of their ability to make you feel full without being high in calories. For example, raw fruit will help satiate your hunger because of the fiber in the skin. Juice, on the other hand, won’t have the same effect because the beneficial fiber has been stripped out to make it into juice.
When you’re trying to lose weight and get more nutrients in, it’s important to avoid “high energy density” foods, which are high in calories but low in nutrition. These include anything high in sugar (natural or artificial); foods that contain trans fat, like many prepackaged snacks do; cheeses; and refined sweets like cakes, cookies and candy.