10 Super Foods for a Healthy Diet

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

While there are all kinds of conflicting dietary claims out there, we can agree that there are some foods that belong in almost any diet. Here are 10 super foods for a healthy diet -- some of them do actually contain fat, but rest assured that these particular foods contain heart-healthy fats, and can form part an overall healthy diet.

Avocado.jpg - Iacaosa moment/Getty Images
Avocado. Iacaosa moment/Getty Images

Avocados

We should all include avocados in our diet, even if we eat low fat. While an avocado does contain fat, it's mostly in the form of healthy, monounsaturated fats, the kind associated with lowering cholesterol. The humble avocado is not only a good source of fiber, it's also a good source of potassium (more so than a banana), a number of B vitamins, folate, vitamin E and vitamin C. In addition to providing the main ingredient in guacamole, mashed avocado makes a great substitute for mayo in a sandwich, and it is also delicious chopped or sliced in salads.

Blueberries.jpg - Karen Schuld/Getty Images
Blueberries. Karen Schuld/Getty Images

Blueberries

Dusky indigo blueberries are packed with fiber and full of disease-fighting antioxidants. The contain almost no fat and are delicious by themselves, stirred into oatmeal or atop your morning cereal, or added to a healthy smoothie recipe. Need some ideas? Here are some blueberry recipes for you to try.

broccoli.jpg - Adam Gault/Getty Images
broccoli floret. Adam Gault/Getty Images

Broccoli

Broccoli is probably the most divisive of vegetables. It tends to rank among people's favorite or most hated veggie. I didn't like it much as a child, probably because it was overcooked. Now, it is definitely one of my faves. Which is a good thing, because broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, fiber and is a good source of many other key vitamins and minerals. Raw broccoli florets make a delicious snack, but I also enjoy steamed broccoli, broccoli soup, and any Chines dish that features broccoli. More »

Eggs-GettyImages.jpg - Getty images
Eggs. Getty images

Eggs

Those on low fat diets have often limited the number of eggs they eat based on the thought that the high level of dietary cholesterol is a factor in raising blood cholesterol. Well, the good news is that the latest dietary guidelines no longer suggest limiting eggs, as research shows no direct link between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. The other thing with the poor egg's reputation was what it's often combined or paired with: often high-fat items such as cheese, sausage and bacon. Yet in its unadulterated form, for a mere 70 calories each, eggs pack a huge nutritional punch. Eggs are a good source of protein and contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, folate, phosphorous, riboflavin, vitamins A, D, E and B-12. Personally, I like nothing better than a soft-poached egg on wheat toast as a weekend breakfast option or a light lunch. More »

Kale.jpg - Joff Lee/Getty Images
Kale. Joff Lee/Getty Images

Kale

I know, kale is kind of the "it" girl right now, kicking arugula to the curb. It features in salads and smoothies, and it's also rather delicious sprinkled with a little olive oil and black pepper, and roasted. Kale is loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, and it's a good source of fiber. I used it recently in this chicken, kale and white bean stew.

Lentils.jpg - Westend61/Getty Images
Lentils. Westend61/Getty Images

Lentils

Lentils are a great source of protein, an excellent source of folate, fiber and are packed full of all kinds of other minerals and vitamins, including iron. Long loved by vegetarians, lentils can also grace the plates of meat and fish lovers too. Enjoy lentils in a soup or as a base on which to serve some white fish, as I do with this cod and lentils dish.

Oats.jpg - Westend61/Getty Images
Oats. Westend61/Getty Images

Oatmeal

Oats are a great source of fiber, which helps you feel fuller for longer, making it an ideal breakfast cereal. If I eat oatmeal, which I do frequently, even in the summer months, I don't feel hungry again until lunch time. The soluble fiber in oatmeal is also thought to lower cholesterol, so is good for heart health. The other great thing about oatmeal is that you can add another of our super foods to it -- blueberries -- for a  stellar start to your morning.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad - Fiona Haynes
Southwestern Quinoa Salad. Fiona Haynes

Quinoa

For those who can't eat wheat, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a great alternative to pasta and couscous. Even if you can eat wheat, a side dish or salad made with quinoa makes a nice change. Quinoa provides all eight essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein, making it popular with vegetarians. It's also a good source of iron, fiber and B vitamins. Despite its status as a super grain, quinoa is technically a seed. More »

Broiled Salmon With Lemon Sauce - Fiona Haynes
Broiled Salmon With Lemon Sauce. Fiona Haynes

Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends we eat fish at least twice a week. While salmon is obviously a "fatty" fish, the fats are the heart-healthy kind. Chock full of omega 3 fatty acids, which the body needs but can't manufacture, salmon should be included in all our diets, including low-fat ones. More »

Walnut - Javier Pais/Getty Images
Walnut. Javier Pais/Getty Images

Walnuts

While nuts are undoubtedly high in fat, they can still be a part of an overall lower fat diet. Walnuts, for example, are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), which, as we have noted with salmon, the body must have but is unable to make by itself. Walnuts also contain fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, and protein. I don't recommend gorging on walnuts for a snack; but adding some sprinkled walnut pieces to your favorite muffin recipe, adding a couple of tablespoons to your morning oatmeal or yogurt parfait, will give you a nice nutritional boost.

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