If you're limiting your groceries to must-haves, these 10 nutrient-dense foods should be on the top of your list.
10 Nutrient-Dense Foods You Should Be Eating Now
Did you know that the lovely avocado is officially classified as a fruit? It has the lowest sugar content of all the fruits and is often served as a vegetable. Fiber is one of the most neglected nutrients in the human diet. One small avocado provides one-third of the US RDA recommendation for daily fiber. That's impressive. Avocados are also high in monounsaturated fat, which is the good kind that reduces inflammation.
Have you ever indulged in a freshly picked avocado? They're so much better than store-bought. There's a noticeable difference in taste and texture. They're thicker and creamier when they're fresh off the tree. They taste grassier and fresher.
Scientific evidence shows that reducing the sugar content in our diets results in better health. When we keep sugar to a minimum, diet-related health issues like inflammation and Type 2 diabetes can be managed or eliminated. Many diets restrict fruit due to the high sugar content. We prefer to be selective rather than restrictive here at Roxy Fit Club. When selecting fruit, we try to stick to those lowest in sugar. This way we can enjoy the dessert-like flavor of fresh local fruit and benefit from loads of vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in common fruits while keeping sugar in check.
When you're craving something sweet, reach for a bowl of fresh berries. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, boysenberries...they're all high in fiber and packed with nutrients. Most importantly, berries add only trace amounts of sugar to your diet. One medium banana contains about 18 grams of sugar while 10 ripe strawberries contain only about 7 grams. An equal serving of raspberries contributes a mere 5 grams of sugar to your daily diet. That's a big difference!
3. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark green leafy vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Including generous amounts of kale, swiss chard, spinach, and other leafy veggies reduces the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. I bring up Type 2 diabetes often because it's a real issue for many adults. As we age, our bodies process carbohydrates less efficiently. A majority of adults over the age of 50 are unknowingly in pre-diabetes, the precarious stage that leads straight into full-blown Type 2 diabetes and all of its complications. Do everything you can to stay clear of pre-diabetes. You probably think you already eat right but if you're eating the average American diet, you're an excellent candidate for sugar-related health issues. Dark green leafy vegetables can help.
Get a healthy dose of dark leafy greens and start your day right with our favorite Savory Swiss Chard Pancakes with Spanish Fried Eggs recipe.
They've historically gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol. Even though recent research shows that including fresh whole eggs in a balanced diet did not significantly change blood cholesterol in healthy individuals, many people avoid eggs. Or at the very least, they avoid egg yolks. I faithfully tossed hundreds of beautiful nutritious egg yolks into the trash in previous years, thinking I was avoiding all that cholesterol. What a waste of one of the most nutritious foods on the planet!
Chicken eggs are now considered to be nature's perfect food. Egg whites are high in protein and essential amino acids. The yolks are one of the best natural sources of antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins. Two boiled eggs are a nutritious portable meal, already packed in their own shells. A pile of scrambled eggs with homemade gluten-free artisan focaccia is a big holiday hit. Say yes to fresh whole eggs.
Garlic has been used as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent for centuries. It's been proven to protect against cancer and lower cholesterol. What's not to like about garlic? People often go easy on the garlic, thinking it might be too strong tasting. Give it a try when you're meal prepping and be generous! I often tuck a couple of whole garlic bulbs inside a whole chicken before I roast it. The results are luxurious bulbs of sweet, nutty roasted garlic cloves in their own sleeves. Squeeze that soft roasted garlic into some fresh sauteed green beans or spread it onto a gluten-free cracker. (Glutino Gluten-Free Crackers are the best we've tried in the gluten-free category.) It's fine dining!
Fresh ginger root is so versatile. It can be used to add wonderful flavor to main courses like stir fry, to desserts like gingerbread, or beverages like ginger turmeric tea. In any way it's used, ginger is a nutritional powerhouse. Studies show it can help reduce inflammation, one of the major causes of joint pain, bloating, and gastrointestinal issues. Like garlic, ginger has anti-cancer properties. It even helps with indigestion.
Getting more fresh ginger into your diet is easy. Your kids will absolutely love our Sweet and Savory Shoyu Chicken recipe. It's an easy one-pot meal they can make for the whole family. Or try our Ginger Turmeric Tea recipe. We include milk and honey to help you sleep. It'll also settle an upset stomach and help reduce inflammation. It's a great bedtime beverage.
A lot of people skip nuts, thinking they're too high in fat. I encourage you to add them to your list of must-have foods! Nuts have some of the highest levels of total antioxidants of all plant foods. Walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts have the highest contents of antioxidants. Research proves that antioxidants play a significant role in reducing cardiovascular disease. Research-related testing indicated that the likelihood of death caused by cardiovascular or coronary heart disease is drastically reduced simply by increasing nut/peanut butter consumption. Stick to whole raw nuts and nut butter. No need to process them or bake them into high-calorie snacks. And use nut flour sparingly. Did you know it takes around 90 almonds to make one cup of almond flour? That's around 600 calories per cup! A handful of raw almonds or a spoonful of organic, no-sugar-added peanut butter is all you need for a great snack that will get you to your next meal.
8. Olive Oil
Polyphenols are micronutrients that are found abundantly in plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Studies indicate that polyphenols are nutritional powerhouses that can slow the development of cardiovascular ailments, neurodegenerative diseases, even cancer. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), in particular, is packed with concentrated levels of polyphenols. Use it to make a homemade vinaigrette and be generous with the olive oil. A good dose of polyphenols arms you with powerful antioxidants and helps reduce inflammation. We only use EVOO here at Roxy Fit Club. We're interested in any way to reduce inflammation and feel better!
9. Wild Salmon
The human body requires essential fatty acids. They provide fuel for the muscles and the heart and play an active role in keeping cell membranes healthy. Our bodies don't produce enough essential fatty acids (EFAs) to keep us going so they must be consumed through the diet. There are two types of EFAs: Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-6s are abundant in nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You're getting more than enough Omega-6 if you're consuming the average American diet, which is rich in grain products and vegetable oils like canola or corn. Omega-3s are important for eye and brain health and they significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that many Americans lack Omega-3s, even though they get plenty of Omega-6. Turns out that balancing these EFAs is key.
You can increase your Omega-3 intake by regularly including wild fish in your diet. Amp it up further by choosing wild salmon, which is one of the highest in Omega-3s. A small serving packs a healthy dose. Check out our Pesto Salmon recipe. It's a family favorite. Even the kids love it!
10. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes aren't just for Thanksgiving. And they certainly don't have to be covered in marshmallows and syrup! A plain baked sweet potato seasoned with salt and pepper is great paired with roasted chicken any day of the week. You can chop sweet potatoes, saute them with onions and garlic, and serve them with eggs for breakfast.
Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and are low on the glycemic index, making them great for managing blood sugar. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, are high in magnesium to help alleviate muscle cramps, and can slow the development of cancer. In many countries, sweet potatoes are considered a medicinal food that alleviates a multitude of health conditions.
Your shopping list should start with these 10 nutrient-dense foods you should be eating now. That way you'll be sure to get them into your cart before you start eliminating items as you approach the check-out stand. Besides, you'll want all of these foods in your pantry for the Roxy Fit Club Real Food 30 Day Challenge. Change your diet, change your life!