Written by Jenn LaVardera, MS RD, Registered Dietitian with Daily Harvest
We’ve partnered with our friends at Daily Harvest to highlight the importance of good nutrition that’s built on fruits and vegetables to inspire you to perform at your best. Carry these resources into your daily lives – for yourself and your patients.
Eating a diet rich in nutritious foods is key to living a long, healthy life. There is a large body of research that shows choosing healthy food options can help lower your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, improve mental well-being and even extend your lifespan. Here is a list of the best healthy foods to include in your diet on a daily basis and suggestions for delicious ways to get ‘em into your busy day. Aim to add more of these 10 superfoods to your plate on the daily.
Berries are among the healthiest fruits around. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are all loaded with dietary fiber, which helps promote digestion and gut health, and is important for managing cholesterol. Berries also contain vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient that supports the immune system and helps prevent oxidative damage. Beyond that, berries contain phytochemicals, compounds that give plants their unique colors and are linked to health benefits. Berries specifically contain anthocyanins, which offer anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, and can help prevent chronic diseases.
It’s easy to incorporate more berries into your diet because they’re so versatile. Berries make a tasty addition to smoothies, a naturally sweet topping for oatmeal or yogurt or a colorful pop of flavor in salads (or on those cheese boards). You can enjoy fresh berries, but frozen berries are just as (and sometimes even more) nutritious and are convenient to have on hand. Get your berry fix in a Daily Harvest Smoothie, ready to drink in just minutes.
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are a top source of vitamin C, an antioxidant nutrient that protects cells from free radical damage, supports the immune system, helps the body absorb iron and is needed to make collagen. Citrus fruits also contain compounds called flavonoids, plant compounds linked with several health benefits. Studies have shown eating more foods rich in flavonoids may help lower risk of some types of cancer and can help promote health and well-being as you age.
Citrus fruits are a convenient snack option to eat on-the-go thanks to their rind—just toss one in your bag to enjoy on a work break. You can also use citrus juice to add a burst of flavor to salad dressings or marinades, or enjoy a glass of juice on it’s own—just be sure to choose 100% juice with no added sugar.
Most people could benefit from eating more leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens and chard. Leafy greens are loaded with vitamin A, needed to support eye health, vision and immunity, and vitamin K, essential for proper blood clotting and bone formation. Leafy greens are also relatively low in calories and have high water content, helping to keep you full and hydrated.
Spinach, kale, collard greens, chard and other leafy greens can be eaten raw or cooked. Use them as a base for salads, or quickly saute them in a little olive oil as a nutritious side dish for any meal. Some greens, like spinach and kale, work well in smoothies too—an easy way to sneak some greens in at breakfast or as a snack.
The cruciferous vegetable family includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. These veggies all contain a compound called glucosinolates, plant compounds that pack some serious health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables are well-studied for their potential in lowering risk of some types of cancer, likely thanks to those glucosinolate compounds. Plus, these veggies all contain dietary fiber, important for managing cholesterol and satiety, and for supporting gut health and digestion.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower can all be eaten raw (try a shaved Brussels sprouts salad!) but they really shine when drizzled with olive oil and roasted. Roasting cruciferous vegetables helps tame the strong flavor and evokes a natural sweetness. Meanwhile, try kale sauteed or in a massaged kale salad, and use cabbage as a nutritious crunchy topping for tacos.
Avocados are a unique fruit, high in monounsaturated fats—those are the “good” type of fat linked with health benefits like lowering cholesterol and promoting heart health. Along with healthy fat, avocados also contain vitamins E and K, folate, potassium and fiber. There is a large body of research to back up avocados as one of the healthiest foods in the world. One study found that eating an avocado a day is linked to an improvement in the abundance of gut bacteria, which is beneficial for overall health. Another study found eating avocados can help increase the amount of HDL cholesterol in the blood—that’s the type of cholesterol that we want more of because it’s good for the heart.
Avocados pair well with all types of food. Try making avocado toast on whole wheat bread, use avocado in place of mayo on sandwiches, top soups and chili with sliced avocado, or add avocado to smoothies. You can also use avocado in baked goods in place of butter. And of course, avocado is a key ingredient for guacamole, the perfect topping for tacos and burritos.
While there are many types of nuts with different tastes and nutritional profiles, they all have one thing in common: nuts are one of the healthiest foods around. Nuts make a good source of plant-based protein, contain fiber and pack healthy fats—namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are good for heart health. Nuts also have vitamin E, a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant and can help keep cells healthy.
There are so many choices when it comes to nuts, and eating a variety of nuts is best for health. Try almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts—the list goes on! If opting for a nut butter, look for one that is made with just nuts and maybe a little salt, steering clear of nut butters that have extra processed oils and added sugar.
Seeds are an underrated nutritious food, yet they are some of the healthiest foods in the world. Like nuts, seeds contain protein, fat and fiber along with vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron. Some seeds, like chia seeds and flax seeds, contain an especially healthful fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are good for your brain and your heart.
You can snack on seeds like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds on their own, while chia seeds and flaxseeds work well as an ingredient. To get more chia seeds into your diet, make an overnight chia pudding—or try a Daily Harvest Chia Bowl made with chia seeds and other nutritious ingredients.
Beans seem like a humble food, but deep down they are a true superfood and some of the best healthy foods. Beans provide a great source of plant protein, and research shows eating a more plant-forward diet can add more than a few healthy minutes to your life. Beans are also brimming with fiber, a nutrient that most Americans don’t get enough of and that we need for proper gut and heart health.
Beans like black beans, white beans and pinto beans add protein to meals like tacos, pastas and soups. Beans’ cousins, legumes, are also among some of the healthiest foods around and include foods like lentils and chickpeas. You can prepare dried beans, or for a short cut look for canned or vacuumed-sealed, ready-to-eat beans and legumes.
Carbohydrates may have a negative reputation, but the truth is we need carbohydrates to fuel our bodies and brains. In fact, they are the preferred source of energy to keep us going throughout the day. That said, not all carbohydrates are a healthy choice. When choosing grains, focus on whole grains, which contain all parts of the grain (the bran, the germ and the endosperm) and pack more nutrition than refined grains. Whole grains contain fiber along with B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and antioxidants. Whole grains also contain more protein than their refined counterparts. Research finds eating whole grains is linked with lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, and that whole grains are good for the gut.
There are so many whole grains to choose from, including amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice, rye, and types of wheat like farro and bulgur. You can serve a whole grain as a side dish with dinner or use it as a base for a build-your-own bowl; look for whole grains in prepared and packaged foods—check those ingredient lists to be sure the grains are whole. For an easy way to get more whole grains into your diet, stock up on Daily Harvest Oat Bowls, which make a quick and easy breakfast solution.
There is a lot of research showing olive oil is a superfood and a healthy option. Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is linked with benefits like longevity and better heart health. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, a good-for-you fat that can help lower cholesterol, and vitamin E, an antioxidant nutrient that protects our cells. Olive oil also contains different phenolic compounds, which act as antioxidants and promote good health.
Olive oil is a versatile cooking oil and can also be used as a salad dressing or in baking. Use olive oil in place of butter to saute vegetables, or combine olive oil with lemon juice for an easy homemade dressing.
These are some of the 10 healthiest foods you should include in your diet. Along with these, focus on eating more of all types of fruits and vegetables, cutting back on foods with added sugar or sodium, limiting ultra-processed foods, and staying hydrated with water. By eating more of these 10 super foods, you may help lower your risk of chronic disease and may even extend your life.
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Daily Harvest believes in a world well-fed. One where delicious food that’s built on organic fruits and vegetables is also incredibly convenient. The company works directly with farmers to grow the best produce, harvest it at the right time and freeze it all at the source to lock in flavor and nutrients. Daily Harvest creates its food with the people who eat it, resulting in a deep understanding of its customers’ taste preferences. By making the food customers actually want to eat, and ensuring it’s also quick to make and always on hand, Daily Harvest makes it easier for customers to eat more fruit and vegetables every day. In addition, the company pours heart, soul and, most importantly, resources into reducing food waste, prioritizing organic farming practices and going the extra mile for sustainable packaging. We take care of food, so food can take care of you. For more information, visit dailyharvest.com.