Do you believe that you’re the master of your own fate?
Certainly, there’s so much in life that seems to spin completely out of your control. But there is a lot in your life that definitely is very much in your court – much more than you realize, perhaps. It starts with what you place in your mouth every day.
The foods you choose have the power to largely determine how your entire day will go – whether it’s a day of high energy, good spirits, mental alertness and restful slumber, or a day of dragging fatigue, crabbiness, brain fog and broken sleep patterns. Some foods are used efficiently by your body to fuel health, healing, self-repair and optimal functioning, while other foods prevent your body from self-maintenance, blocking it from working properly and responding to your needs.
That’s why it’s important to focus all your meals around the foods that will optimize your well-being in your day, while simultaneously staying away from foods that will inevitably sabotage it.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, family physician and nutrition researcher, breaks it down into a list of 10 nutrient-packed, wholesome foods that can help to set you up for health, weight loss and well-being.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, water cress, etc., are packed with precious micro-nutrients. High in nutrients and fiber while very low in calories, these are great for filling you up quickly and helping to prevent over-eating. They also feed important gut bacteria in your body that help to optimize weight control and good health.
2. Cruciferous Veggies
Crucifers like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and radishes are highly detoxifying and help to prevent toxins from damaging DNA. They are also very high in phytonutrients and fiber, and very low in calories.
Wild berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, currants, etc. are very high in phytochemicals that support heart health, improve blood glucose levels and reduce inflammation. They are sweet and delicious while full of fiber and relatively low on the glycemic index.
High in soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, protein, iron and B vitamins, beans are among the healthiest foods in the world. Because beans contain so much resistant starch, they help to keep blood sugar stabilized, helping to control appetite and sweet cravings. The resistant starch in beans also interacts with bacteria in the gut to form anti-cancer compounds in the colon.
Mushrooms like white button, shiitake, cremini, oyster, Portabello and other varieties help to strengthen the immune system. One study showed they help people who ate them every day fight off respiratory infections better, while other studies link frequent mushroom consumption to reduced risk of breast cancer.
6. Allium veggies
Allium vegetables like garlic, onion, leeks and scallions have been shown to contain anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds. They help to strengthen the immune system and help to reduce the frequency and duration of illness.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pine nuts, etc., contain minerals, sterols, stanols, fiber and other health-promoting nutrients. They’ve been shown to help support weight management and to protect against heart disease.
Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, etc. have a lot of the same health advantages of nuts, but some have additional shots of important omega-3s that help to boost brain health and heart health. Seeds like chia and flax also contain a gelatinous form of fiber that coats the intestines and combats constipation.
Tomatoes are high in an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compound called lycopene, that helps to protect against cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes may also help with weight loss, as one study found that women who drank half a pint of tomato juice for 8 weeks dropped inches from their waist line, despite making no other changes to their diet, physical activity levels or lifestyle.
These tart fruits are filled with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, and they help to prevent against heart disease, cognitive problems, cancer, and to reduce oxidative stress. Various studies have also linked these high fiber berries to reduced concentrations of blood fats, reduced abdominal fat and reduced overall fat mass.