Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:
Healthy Living

Ten Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 12/14/2010
Last Updated: 12/16/2010

Share on:

I try to eat healthy foods; I'm sure we all do. After all, nutrition plays such a large part in overall health and wellness.

I don't know about you, but I end up eating the same basic foods day after day. It makes food shopping a no-brainer. I mean, I don't even need a list anymore.

But eventually it can all make eating rather boring, don't you think? And then what ends up happening:  I overdose on the same old foods and end up shucking them for good.

So I've made a list of the foods that I'm not eating, or not eating enough of, but should be:

Beans. They're rich both in protein and provide healthful unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked beans deliver about 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. Afraid of gas? Soaking beans overnight and rinsing them thoroughly before cooking helps. Who knew that you could eat chickpeas roasted with curry? Take a look at this recipe from blogger Debbie Koenig over at Words to Eat By.

Beets. A rich source of folate and natural red pigments that may fight cancer. Since heating them decreases their antioxidant power, go for fresh, raw or grated beets.

Pumpkin seeds. They're packed with magnesium, which many of us are deficient in and don't even know it. Magnesium deficiency can affect your mood and energy level, among other things. Roast pumpkin seeds for a snack or sprinkle them on your salad.

Turmeric. It's a spice superstar and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. And it's good for your brain, too. Sprinkle it into any veggie dish or into your scrambled eggs.

Sardines. High in omega-3s, there's virtually no mercury but plenty of calcium in these goodies. Also plentiful: iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and lots of B vitamins. Sounds like a wonder food! Eat them plain or mix them into a salad, top your toast with them or mash them up with mustard and onions and use as a spread.

Swiss chard. This leafy green veggie contains lots of carotenoids, which are protective to aging eyes and play an important role in bone growth and reproduction. Eat it chopped up and sautéed in olive oil. Another food blogger, Melanie McMinn, of frugalkiwi.com (check out her fabulous crafts, too!) offers this recipe for a comforting Greek stew made from black-eyed peas and swiss chard.

Cabbage. It's loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical that can boost cancer-fighting enzymes. It's also a great source of fiber and Vitamins C, E, A and B. It's equally good raw or cooked.

Blueberries. A study presented at the Experimental Biology conference in 2009 found that they lower blood cholesterol levels while improving glucose control and insulin sensitivity, lowering the risk of both heart disease and diabetes. Just because they're not in season doesn't mean you can't have them. Frozen blueberries are available year-round. Top your yogurt or oatmeal with them or throw them into a smoothie. Here's an unexpected and inspired use for blueberries – in salsa – from food blogger Kristen Gough of mykidseatsquid.com

Walnuts. It only takes seven walnuts (1/4 c) to give you 94 percent of your Daily Value of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help with everything from dry eyes to depression. Snack on them plain or add them to veggie dishes like Brussels sprouts.

Sweet Potatoes. A super-star vegetable, loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They're great baked, mashed with some unsweetened applesauce or crushed pineapple, or oven fried. Another yummy recipe (I've got to try this one!) from Debbie: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and Shaved Chestnuts.

Subscribe to Midlife Matters by Email


I do pretty well with most of these, but just the idea of sardines makes me nauseous, so might skip that one!

I'm with you on the sardines, although strangely when I was younger I liked them. Tastes change, I guess...

Hey! I eat 8 of the 10. Three cheers for me!!!

I'm impressed, Roxanne - and curious what the two are that are missing from your diet?

Who knew sardines were a wonder food? That's one ingredient I don't think I've used. I guess I should give it a try. Thank goodness walnuts made the list because I could eat bags of those!

Swiss chard is tasty, but I'll always choose kale when given the option. That stuff is super healthy and deeeelish!

I'm pickier than your 8-out-of-10 commenter. Why do healthy foods never include ice cream? It would mean a lot to me if your next great foods list had Ben & Jerry's on it.

Ruth, I'll have to write to those guys and convince them to get going on a good-for-you ice cream. Hey, how about blueberry?

Thank God I love beets, always have and I love sweet potatoes but i dont eat them enough. Thanks for writing about these healthy food as a reminder for me get back into eating these great delicious foods!

I love beets, too. They were my last holdout - but a few years ago I started trying them again and now love them in any form.

Thanks for the reminder about some of these foods that I'm neglecting. My potassium and magnesium levels slip sometimes, so I need to look at pumpkin seeds and sardines. (Used to eat them a lot, need to start buying them again.) I wish my husband liked sweet potatoes, cause I love them. And we can't live without blueberries. When they are a good price in the summer, I freeze big bagsful to use later.

I'm with you, Vera - love sweet potatoes AND blueberries. I get so excited when they're in season and wish the season lasted longer, don't you?

Never would I guessed walnuts were that good for you. I will have to add them to my diet. Thanks for this list. It's so important to eat as well as one can afford, and the reminder to eat some foods raw helps, too. I always cook them.

What a great roundup--and I say that not just because you plug two of my recipes ;)

I'm going to show this to my husband, in the hopes that it'll get him to reconsider his cabbage-aversion.

I'm very lucky to have an organic farm nearby home, today I bought sweet potatoes, cabbage, onions and cauliflower. I just roasted it and it was delicious!!!

You sure are lucky, Rosalba - that's a delicious mix of veggies to roast...yum.

Hi Sheryl, Great list. I'm a nutritionist and often advise clients that they should try to eat these foods more often. They're all chock full of phytochemicals.

Hi Sheryl, my comment seems to have disappeared.
What I was saying is that you have a great list here. I'm a nutritionist and I often counsel my clients to choose these foods more often. They're chock full of phytochemicals.

I'm thrilled to know I've got a new excuse to eat more pumpkin seeds. My magnesium is low at times, something that isn't good for anyone, but is even worse for a migraineur like me. I'm very happy to add some more magnesium in my diet in the form of yummy pumpkin seeds!

This is a good list, but I don't think I can bring myself to eat sardines, no matter how good they are for me!

Like all of these & eat 'em fairly often, with the exception of cabbage. Do you have any good ideas about how to add that nutritious veg into the mix?

I love cabbage cooked any way at all, but my favorite is to cut it into strips and saute in a bit of olive oil and onion with lots of black pepper. Even quartered and steamed and sprinkled with poppy seeds is delish and couldn't be easier.

Very nice information about heart-healthy foods. I personally love beet salad but From today I also eat walnut because it is rich in omega 3 fatty acid. and I really need this.



Add new comment