When I started my career as a dietitian, I was focused on swapping recipes for healthier options like cauliflower rice and zoodles. However, over time, I realized that balance meant adding nutritious foods to my diet instead of replacing the ones I craved. This shift made my meals more enjoyable, and I started choosing nutrient-dense foods out of desire rather than guilt.

With trends like slow girl wellness and intuitive eating gaining popularity, there is a shift away from the all-or-nothing mentality towards focusing on foods that add value to our meals. As a dietitian, I believe in incorporating a variety of superfoods for optimal health, with eight particular foods being so nutritious that I include them in one meal daily. I’ll share these superfoods with you, and remember, you don’t have to consume all of these foods every day. Consider using this list as a guide to keep nutrient-dense ingredients on hand, focusing on progress over perfection. Each food item mentioned can be easily incorporated into your diet. Start small, adjust based on your preferences, and enjoy experimenting with different meal options.

1. Seeds

In times of uncertainty, adding seeds to your meals is always a great choice. Seeds may be small, but they are packed with nutrition. I like to keep a variety on hand, including:

  • Hemp seeds: These seeds are a great protein source (10 grams per 3-tablespoon serving) and rich in polyunsaturated fats. They’re perfect for topping pancakes, waffles, or salads.
  • Chia seeds: Known for their high fiber content (10 grams per 2.5-tablespoon serving) and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are excellent in smoothies, oats, or chia pudding.
  • Flaxseed: Adding a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed to baking or smoothies provides healthy fats and polyphenols called lignans, which may help improve cholesterol levels.

2. Nuts

Nuts are a favorite snack of mine due to their taste, portability, filling nature, and nutritional value. Varieties like cashews, almonds, and walnuts are good sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and minerals. If snacking on nuts isn’t your preference, try adding chopped nuts to oatmeal, yogurt, chia pudding, or salads. Nuts can also be used as a crunchy coating for chicken or salmon, adding a satisfying texture to your dishes. Nut butter is another option to incorporate similar nutrients.

3. Eggs

Eggs have unjustly suffered from a bad reputation in the past due to concerns about their cholesterol content. However, research now shows that eggs do not contribute to high cholesterol levels, and consuming the whole egg, yolk included, provides valuable nutrition. Eggs are rich in beneficial fats that help lower LDL cholesterol and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. With around 6 grams of protein per egg, they are a simple and nutritious protein source.

4. Berries

Berries are a top choice for fiber intake, offering 8 grams per 1-cup serving. They are also excellent sources of vitamin C and antioxidants. Whether fresh or frozen, berries are versatile and tasty. While fresh berries can be pricey and spoil quickly, frozen berries are equally nutritious and convenient. Use frozen berries in smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, or as a sauce for pancakes. Heating them can enhance their flavor and texture, making them a delightful addition to various dishes.

5. Leafy Greens

Incorporating leafy greens like spinach, arugula, and kale into your diet is essential for boosting nutrition, although finding enjoyable ways to consume them can be a challenge. Whether in a smoothie, mixed into burgers, or sauteed with eggs, leafy greens provide vital nutrients that support the immune system, enhance energy levels, and aid digestion. Despite potential taste preferences, the benefits of adding greens to your meals outweigh any initial obstacles.

6. Avocado

Avocado is a nutrient-rich source of high-quality fats that can enhance the satisfaction of your meals and help reduce LDL cholesterol levels due to its oleic acid content. With around 5 grams of fiber per half-cup serving, avocado is an excellent addition to your diet. Whether enjoyed as avocado toast for breakfast or as a creamy dip with chips or veggies, incorporating avocado into your meals provides a source of healthy fats and fiber.

7. Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes, staples in Blue Zones known for longevity, are rich in plant-based protein and fiber. For instance, a cup of navy beans contains 15 grams of protein and 19 grams of fiber. Including high-fiber legumes like lentils and chickpeas in soups, salads, or blended into sauces offers digestive benefits. Explore the versatility of beans by incorporating them into various dishes to reap their nutritional advantages.

8. Yogurt

If you’re focusing on gut health in 2024, yogurt is an easy way to introduce probiotics into your diet, provided that the brand contains “live and active cultures.” Opt for plain Greek yogurt for added protein (17 grams per three-fourths cup serving). Use it in recipes like ranch dip, marinades, or pancake batter to increase protein content and achieve a fluffy texture. If yogurt isn’t your preference, other probiotic-rich options include kimchi, miso, kombucha, tempeh, and kefir as alternatives.


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