This year, instead of just trying to eat fewer calories, make a resolution to make your calories count. Eat less junk, avoid empty calories and focus on foods that serve a purpose. Here’s a list of nutrient-rich foods to add to your diet and start the New Year off right!
Salmon is packed with the protein your body needs to maintain lean muscle mass and stay full longer. One three ounce serving contains about 20 grams of protein. That’s the same as chicken, but with fewer calories. It’s also full of the healthy fat omega-3, a super nutrient that seems to have the answer to everything.
Experts recommend regular consumption of omega-3 to lower levels of depression, improve in-utero development, decrease risk of heart disease, reduce symptoms of ADHD and prevent dementia. If that’s not enough to send you running to the seafood market, consider that salmon is also one of the few foods that naturally contains vitamin D, a nutrient you probably aren’t getting enough of. Adequate vitamin D levels are important for strong bones, healthy teeth and the prevention of some diseases.
When it comes to your diet, whole grains have a lot to offer. They’re full of fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, selenium and magnesium. These nutrients give you energy, lower blood pressure and boost your immune system. “Ancient grains” are even better, because they have been largely unmodified and are typically grown pesticide-free. You’ve likely had your share of quinoa by now, but this year, branch out and try adding other varieties to your plate like farro, freekeh, amaranth and bulgur.
Although garlic is technically an herb, not a food, it offers too many health benefits not to be added. Regular consumption of antioxidant-rich garlic has been shown to boost the immune system and reduce symptoms of illnesses like the common cold. It may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and protect you from diseases like cancer and dementia.
Berries get their bright pigment from anthocyanins--antioxidants that reduce inflammation in your body, enhance your memory and protect you from diseases. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, so eat more berries for healthy hair and glowing skin.
You may have forgotten all about spinach with the kale craze that has happened in recent years, but this leafy green should definitely find its way back in your fridge. Spinach has a milder flavor than kale, so picky eaters are more likely to eat it, and it’s a better source of folate--a B vitamin that gives you energy. Just one cup provides 15% of your recommended daily intake. Folate is particularly important to women of child-bearing age because adequate amounts are needed for normal fetal development. If you’re pregnant or even thinking about trying, make sure to stock up on spinach.