A growing concern over the escalating number of individuals afflicted with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and cancer has prompted the population to seek healthy choices for their meal plans. According to the Mayo Clinic and Livestrong nutrition experts, the following foods provide excellent sources of vitamins and nutrients to help to maximize the body’s ability to reduce risks of various medical conditions.
Packed with nutrients, nuts are good sources of protein. Specifically, almonds contain the highest levels of calcium. They are loaded with iron and vitamin E. Nuts are high in unsaturated fat, which helps the body to maintain healthier cholesterol levels. A quarter of a cup of almonds, or walnuts when you want to switch things up, helps to preserve heart health.
A half-cup serving of this low-fat protein source is rich in fiber, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Red and black beans contain higher amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrient, which help to prevent heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. The folate in beans helps to preserve cardiovascular health.
Blueberries, strawberries and cranberries are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. One cup of berries can help to fight cancer, reduce the risk for hypertension and stave off age-related cognitive degeneration.
Broccoli, another source of folate and phytonutrients, offers the immune boosting benefit of vitamin C, and an eye health benefit of vitamin A. Many vegetables, including broccoli, lose some nutrients when overcooked. For maximum healthy impact, consume one cup of broccoli either raw or lightly steamed.
Lemons, oranges and grapefruit are key sources of vitamin C and antioxidants. Bioflavonoids inhibit the formation of blood clots that can compromise cardiovascular health. A grapefruit a day may keep a number of illnesses away.
Vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods other than milk. Without adequate levels of vitamin D on board, calcium is not utilized efficiently. Consuming these two nutrients in a glass of milk daily will ensure stronger, healthier teeth and bones.
Salmon contributes triglyceride-reducing Omega-3 fatty acids.Omega-3 reduces the likelihood of blood clot formation and clogged arteries, thus decreasing risks for heart attacks and stroke. Fish oils are also beneficial for those with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.An ideal diet includes a three-ounce serving, three times a week.
In addition to vitamins A and C, folate, and magnesium, spinach also contains beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which preserve ocular health. These components protect the eyes against such age-related visual deficits as macular degeneration and night blindness.Eat a cup of spinach raw, as in a salad, or lightly sautéed; overcooking depletes the nutrients.
Sweet potatoes contain fiber, vitamins A, B-6 and C, fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Once beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, the result can slow the aging process and help to prevent some cancers. Share the health; half of one large sweet potato is the perfect serving size to reap the benefits.
High in vitamin E, folate, thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and fiber, wheat germ is a powerhouse of nutrients. Sprinkle two tablespoons over your morning hot or cold cereal; the flavors will meld perfectly.
By making the aforementioned foods a regular part of a sensible diet, you will make big strides toward improving your health today and achieving a better quality of life for many years to come.
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