Eating healthy can be as easy as ABC! Here is a list describing one wholesome food for each letter of the alphabet to keep you healthy, in shape, and on top of your game.
Apples are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium, as well as flavonoids — molecules that protect our brain cells from free radical damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Berries are chock full of antioxidants that can help fight chronic disease and cancer. Harvard.edu explains that, according to a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries each week may help reduce a woman’s risk of heart attack.
Chicken is a great source of protein, and easy to cook. It has less saturated fat than most red meat, and is also low in calories, keeping you not only full, but also healthy.
Dates are high in fiber and they help lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, and prevent colorectal cancer. While they contain high amounts of natural sugars, they are actually low-glycemic index foods that do not significantly raise your blood sugar levels after eaten, protecting you from that dreaded sugar crash.
Eggs are considered the gold standard for protein quality, according to Huffington Post, as their amino acids are the most digestible to humans. Egg yolks are rich in the nutrient choline, which is often combined with B-complex vitamins. Choline is associated with better neurological function and reduced inflammation. Egg whites are a low-calorie, low-fat source of protein.
Flax seeds are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, cancer-fighting lignans and fiber. Sprinkle them on your salads, yogurt and smoothies to reap the health benefits.
Garlic can help reduce blood pressure, stimulate digestion, and relieve gastrointestinal inflammation. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, garlic is a powerful natural medicine. It can help treat infections, and contains compounds that appear to fight cancer.
Hazelnuts contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and healthy fats, making them a perfect snack or a great addition to salads or baked goods.
Iced tea not only keeps you cool on a hot summer day, but it may also protect you against cancer, cardiovascular disease, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, according to TIME Magazine. Remember to enjoy “real” teas; green, black, white, and oolong, to get the antioxidants that do your body good.
Jicama is a relative of the potato family and looks similar to a turnip or a large radish. It is a good source of beta carotene and vitamin C, and is low in fat and cholesterol. Jicama may help lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which damages the lining of blood cells and increase the risk of heart disease.
Kale is a supergreen packed with vitamins A, C and K, as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. This cruciferous vegetable is beneficial in maintaining healthy skin, hair and strong bones, as well as helping with digestion and lowering the risk for heart disease. One cup packs almost 3 grams of protein.
Lemons are an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, which can fight cancer-causing free radicals, lower the risk of asthma, boost your immune system, and improve overall skin texture. Use it to add a kick to your sauces, salad dressings, marinades, drinks and desserts.
Mangoes are delicious fruits that can protect your eyes against age-related macular degeneration, and promote regularity. They fight constipation with their fiber and water content. The vitamin A in mangoes is also great for your hair and nails.
Nutmeg is a flavorful spice that stimulates the brain and helps with fatigue and stress. It also fights bad breath!
Olive oil is the oil you want to use in your kitchen. It is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, and according to MedicalNewsToday.com, regular olive oil consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
Pineapple is a great fruit to eat and cook with, and its high content of vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, folate, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants make it a very healthy option.
Quinoa is a naturally gluten-free plant food that is considered a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids our bodies need to grow and repair tissues. It has a high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio compared to other grains, and is a great substitute for rice or couscous.
Raisins are a good source of potassium, a mineral that can help lower blood pressure. They are free from fat and cholesterol, and a good source of antioxidants and fiber, so they're perfect to snack on!
Salmon is a good source of omega-3 essential fatty acids that protect your heart. Look for “wild caught” salmon. Farmed ones can often contain high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls that can produce serious side effects for our immune and reproductive systems, reports MindBodyGreen.com. The AHA recommends eating fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week, where each serving is 3.5 ounces cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish.
Tomatoes are delicious fruits with endless possibilities for cooking, and they are packed with the antioxidants lycopene and beta carotene that protect our cells from free radical damage.
Ugli fruit is a type of tangelo from Jamaica, and at only 90 calories per piece, one contains about 140 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
Vinegar not only adds a great taste to your salads, but according to WebMD, apple cider vinegar can also block some of the digestion of starch, helping with diabetes and blood sugar control.
Wild rice is a low-glycemic-index food that does not raise your blood sugar as fast as other starchy carbs. Its adds a nutty flavor and great texture to your meals, helping you stay full for longer.
Xigua is very similar to watermelon. It is is just 48 calories a cup and full of water, low in sugar, and high in vitamins A and C. Enjoy it as a refreshing snack this summer!
Yogurt is a great source of probiotics which regulate our digestive system and strengthen our immune system. The calcium in yogurt also suppresses the release of stress hormones that contribute to that stubborn belly fat.
Zucchini is packed with fiber and 95 percent of it is water, so it is very low in calories! Use it in stir fries, salads, casseroles, or simply enjoy it with dips. It is also high in vitamin C.
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt. Fitnessmagazine.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
13 Reasons Tea Is Good For You. TIME.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Berries may lower women’s heart attack risk. Harvard.edu. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
A to Z foods for better health. MindBodyGreen.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Health. WebMD. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Fish101. American Heart Association. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Health benefits of eggs. Huffington Healthy Living. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Garlic. Drweil.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
What are the health benefits of eating dates? Livestrong.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
What are the health benefits of kale? Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
What are the health benefits of lemon? Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
What are the health benefits of olive oil? Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Fruits That Have Lutein and Zeaxanthin. SF Gate.com. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
The Best Superfoods, from A to Z. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
Reviewed June 25, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith