We all know which foods we do best to avoid (right?). Despite the alluring appeal of Oreos, Mountain Dew or McAnything, processed foods provide little nutrition and a whole lot of risks. But when it comes to the good stuff—what are the best foods to put into our bodies? While experts all agree we need a variety of foods for a healthy diet, do you know which are the healthiest of the bunch? The answers may surprise and delight you.
1. Spirulina: While the thought of eating lake algae might gross you out, spirulina is actually pretty tasty, especially blended into a smoothie or hidden in a chocolate bar. It has more antioxidants than any other food on earth and is loaded with protein and minerals making it the most nutrient dense food.
2. Kale: According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, kale is the most nutritious food, loaded with minerals, vitamins, fiber and amino acids, as well as important antioxidants that reduce inflammation and can prevent cancer. It's also delicious and an easy to prepare, versatile food.
3. Hemp Seeds: What do you get when you combine protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals? Hemp, of course. This easily digestible seed is versatile, easy to use and extremely tasty, too.
4. Chocolate: Yes, you read right. Cacao beans are so nutrient-dense that scientists haven't even begun to identify all the benefits in the little bean yet. Don't grab a Snickers though—the good stuff is found only in raw cacao beans or nibs (or really, really dark chocolate). Minerals, vitamins and tons of antioxidants are great for your heart, skin, and release chemicals in the brain that make you feel like you're in love.
5. Broccoli: Mom was right, you should eat your broccoli if you want a healthy digestive system and to decrease your risk of cancer. Broccoli has a wide range of yumminess too, from soups and stews to stir fry.
6. Spinach: Popeye was onto something with that spinach fixation. But skip the canned stuff and stick with fresh or frozen for an antioxidant, protein and fiber-rich burst of healthy goodness. Fresh or cooked, spinach's sweet and hardy flavor brightens any meal.
7. Chia: The Aztec warriors may have died out, but their legacy is alive and strong in the chia seed. This yummy, unassuming ancient favorite is loaded with omega fats, protein and fiber. Dr. Weil says it's a better choice than flax because "chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don't deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid."
8. Berries: Unlike other fruit, berries tend to be less sugary and full of vital vitamins, minerals and those free-radical avenging antioxidants. Wild berries are always a great choice, especially black raspberries.
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Image: USACE Europe District