An optimal eating plan is one that includes a wide variety of healthy foods – mostly fruits and vegetables - and whole grains, nuts and legumes, and other lean protein sources. While it’s best to vary day-to-day food choices to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need, there are many highly nutritious foods that are beneficial to include at least several days during the week. The foods listed here are just seven of many healthy foods you might want to consider in the regular rotation of your daily eating plan.
1. Plain Greek yogurt
Because it’s strained, Greek yogurt isn’t just thick and creamy, it has twice the protein of regular yogurt. It’s also packed with calcium and potassium, and is an excellent source of naturally-occurring probiotics. Eat it as is, or mixed with fresh fruit or granola. Greek yogurt is also a nutrient-dense foundation for dips and spreads.
2. Garbanzo beans
All beans fall under the umbrella of healthy everyday foods because they are rich in protein, fiber, and iron, among other minerals. They are also extremely versatile and easy to use. Drain, rinse, and sprinkle them on salads, drop in soups, mix with grains, or roast them in the oven for a crunchy nutritious snack.
The bad rap on eggs is over. Experts are now recognizing them for their nutritional status, accessibility, and economy. Eggs provide the perfect protein and can be enjoyed for any meal of the day.
4. Dark leafy greens
Kale, collards, spinach, Swiss chard and more, leafy greens are rich in vitamins A, C, K and B-complex, and small amounts of essential minerals such as calcium and potassium. Leafy greens are delicious sautéed in a splash of olive oil and garlic, or with lemon juice or red wine vinegar.
5. Sweet potatoes
Healthy food all-stars, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and they are loaded with carotenoids. Baked, roasted, or grilled, sweet potatoes are a delicious accompaniment to any meal.
All types of berries are bursting with antioxidants and other naturally occurring plant chemicals that promote good health. Vitamins C, A, and fiber are three more reasons berries make the list for essential everyday foods. Fresh, is the best way to enjoy berries, but when they aren’t in-season, frozen berries earn bragging rights for their high nutrient profile too.
Boasting folate, vitamins C and K, carotenoids and calcium, broccoli is a perfect addition to any meal. Also very easy to prepare, and depending on preference, broccoli can be enjoyed in the raw or steamed. It is also delicious roasted in olive oil or garlic.
Definitely don’t limit your favorite healthy foods to this list, but do consider these seven essential foods in your (almost) everyday eating plan.