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PSA: These Are The Best Foods For Your Health

by sarah schuh - February 23, 2021

Looking to stick to a healthy routine? If so, you may be trying things like exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and filling your diet with nourishing eats. However, unlike finding a workout regimen or logging seven hours of restful sleep, the latter of these isn’t always as easy. With so many questions out there, like "which foods are good for health?" or "what foods should I never eat?" it can get confusing! So today, we’re tapping the pros and getting the answers to give you some food for thought.

What Kinds of Foods Are Good for Health?

Take a look around a grocery store and you'll be presented with options galore. When it comes to which foods to scoop up as part of a beneficial lifestyle, there’s a simple rule of thumb to follow: It’s all about balancing your nutrients! Take it from the US Dietary Guidelines, which recommends "combining healthy choices from across all food groups — while paying attention to calorie limits."

Whitney Stuart, MCN, RDN, a board-certified dietitian-nutritionist of Whitness Nutrition, agrees with this approach. "My definition of health stems from a colorful and varied balance of nutrients that leaves ample room for sprinkles on top. Thus, I focus on nutrient options first," she tells Lively. Of course, electing to go the healthy route is easier said than done, so here's how she keeps it sustainable: "I never restrict or avoid cravings. Not allowing yourself certain foods can lead to binging. If I want a cookie, I eat it."

foods for health

What Foods Should You Eat Everyday?

Now that we've established an approach to healthy eating, let's look at the specific foods you should be eating daily. In accordance with the US Dietary Guidelines, these are the best ones you should swap into rotation as part of your day-to-day:

  • Veggies 
  • Fruits
  • Grains  
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy 
  • Proteins  
  • Oils
foods for health

What Are The Top 5 Healthiest Foods?

So what are the "healthiest" of these? Director of the Department of Nutrition at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN, recommends eating superfoods. Her reasoning? "These superfoods offer some very important nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern," she says.

While this list can be catered to season (like superfoods for summer or superfoods for fall), the general list includes the following:

  • Berries: Rich in fiber and antioxidants 
  • Fish: Good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids  
  • Leafy greens: Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and fiber
  • Yogurt: Beneficial in calcium, protein and probiotics
  • Whole grains: For fiber, B vitamins and minerals
  • Nuts: Source of plant protein (includes: hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pecans)
  • Cruciferous veggies: Packed with fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals (includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts)
  • Tomatoes: Ripe with vitamin C and lycopene
  • Legumes: Known for fiber, folate and plant-based protein (think kidney, black, red and garbanzo beans)
  • Olive oil: Boasts vitamin E, polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids

What Are the 3 Foods To Never Eat?

On the contrary, as part of a balanced diet, there are some noshing no-no's. Foods like cookies, ice cream and candy make this list, but it’s less obvious culprits, like packaged goods falsely marketed as "healthy," that are rising in popularity.

Here we polled trainers and nutritionists on these popular food pitfalls to avoid as much as possible, also rounded-up below: 

  • Store-bought protein bars
  • Canola oil
  • Granola bars
  • Agave nectar
  • Fruit juices
  • Grab-and-go "protein boxes" 
  • Foods marketed as "low sugar"

What Are the Best Healthy Recipes To Make?

Equipped with an arsenal of healthy eating wisdom, we're providing you with some fan-favorite recipes. These breakfast, lunch and dinner options include superfoods and items from the above groupings to keep wellness within reach:

Looking for more options? Check out the recipe section on our Lively blog to keep the good eats coming all week.

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