Top 10 Healthy Foods and Why They're Good for You
If you could eat foods that were tasty, nutritious and helped reduce your risk of disease, what more could you want? The August issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers its 10 top picks for healthy foods:
Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a fiber that can lower cholesterol and glucose levels. They're also a good source of vitamin C - an antioxidant that protects your body's cells. Vitamin C also keeps your blood vessels healthy and aids in the absorption of iron and folate.
Almonds: These nuts are packed with nutrients - fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. They're also good for your heart. Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels when substituted for other fats. Most almonds are considered low sodium, with less than 140 milligrams of sodium an ounce.
Broccoli: Besides providing calcium, potassium, folate and fiber, broccoli contains phytonutrients - compounds that may help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Broccoli contains the antioxidant beta-carotene and is also an excellent source of vitamin C.
Blueberries: They are a rich, low-calorie source of fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Regular intake of blueberries may improve short-term memory and reduce the cellular damage associated with aging.
Red beans: Small red, pinto and dark red kidney varieties - are an excellent low-fat source of antioxidants, protein, dietary fiber and copper. They're also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and thiamin.
Salmon: This fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to provide heart benefits. Salmon is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of protein. If possible, choose wild salmon, which is less likely to contain unwanted chemicals such as mercury.
Spinach: It's high in vitamin A, and also is a good source of calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, riboflavin and vitamins B-6 and C. The plant compounds in spinach may boost your immune system and help prevent certain types of cancer.
Sweet potatoes: The deep orange-yellow color of sweet potatoes tells you that they're high in beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber, vitamin B-6 and potassium. And, they're fat-free and relatively low in calories.
Vegetable juice: This beverage is an easy way to include vegetables in your diet since it contains most of the same vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Tomato juice, and vegetable juices which include tomatoes, are good sources of lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer. Be sure to select the low-sodium varieties.
Wheat germ: The germ at the center of the wheat seed is a concentrated source of nutrients. Two tablespoons provide a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Sprinkle over cereals, yogurt and salads. Or use it in muffins, cookies and pancakes.