Foods to Eat Every Day for Best Health

Foods to Eat Every Day for Best Health

Foods to Eat Every Day for Best Health.

One of the most common questions we get asked is "what foods should we be eating on a daily basis in order to achieve optimal health and well-being and maintain it long term?"  We often discuss many aspects of the broader diet, and there are many foods that we should incorporate into our overall diet, but we can eat most of these a few of times a week and reap their full benefits. However, some food is so important to maximizing good health that it really should to be eaten every day. Here's a look at what a core daily diet, those foods you need for proper functioning, would consist of ideally.

Again, I am not trying here to describe the ideal overall diet, just specific foods that I believe supply the body with the requisite nutrients to ensure proper daily function, health, and well-being, so are important enough to be eaten every single day.

Go for the Greens:

Of course any diet must fundamentally revolve around the most potent of health bearing foods, green vegetables. Not only do they contain dense nutrient value, but are low in calories and high in fiber. The best thing about green veges is that you can virtually eat unlimited quantities, so bulk up with leafy and cruciferous green vegetables. The majority of the caloric value of most greens come from plant proteins, which are rich in the critically important phytonutrients. You will find endless discussions in our blog about these specific nutrients, which are rich in key vitamins and minerals, especially folate, calcium, and even omega-3 fatty acids. Consider these green foods a direct source of wellness.

One of the recurring themes you will notice is importance of color in foods. The pigments that give rise to coloring in these foods derive from the phytochemicals called carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants, like lutein and zeanthaxin, that are highly protective, promoting optimal cellular function, fighting off diseases and invaders to our system, free radicals which cause inflammation, removing carcinogens and killing cancer cells, and inhibiting angiogenesis (tumors need blood to proliferate.)

When it comes to choosing the best greens, anything rich in color is good, but I like to focus on the cruciferous vegetables, which are highest in fiber, densest in phytonutrients, and have a particular chemical composition that when ground up by chewing or chopping, undergo a reaction that converts glucosinates to isothiocyanates, which are a uniquely potent form of cellular protectants and have all sorts of health benefits in a multitude of functions in the body.

I have my own favorites, including bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, kale, spinach, and a variety of field greens. I find it easiest to make a sort of coleslaw (I shred cabbage, kale, broccoli, and carrots) and I keep it at the ready each day to make something easy and healthy. Sometimes I just toss it with my favorite vinaigrette, sometimes I cook it into a stew or with a protein to make stir fry. It's so easy and so healthy and you can go to town on portions if you find yourself hungry (watch the sauces/dressings.) Just remember to chew it really well, or grind it up. Also, while on the subject, another vegetable key is the more vibrant the color, the better the nutritional offerings, so add a splash of color to your greens too. Find your own preferences, but make them a daily fare.

Eat as much of this group as you like. A high quality greens supplement can also be very useful (slow air dried ingredients for optimal bio-availability.)

Beans, beans, and more beans:

This may be my favorite go-to food because it is easy to use and so versatile. Beans (all legumes) are an absolute bonanza of health-boosting nutrition. They are a good complex carbohydrate source, full of soluble fiber and resistant starch which fill you up while reducing caloric absorption -- they digest slowly, and thus have an excellent stabilizing effect on blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They are also fermented by bacteria in the intestines into fatty acids which have multitudes of beneficial health effects. Studies show an amazing range of benefits, including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic, among others.

Moreover, they are so easy to make delicious. Kidney, garbonzo, white beans, lentils and peas are all great choices. I use them in soups, on salads, and in chili's and stews. Try making some dips by blending with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, then store them and use them for meal accompaniments or sauces. My fridge contains a variety of bean dishes at all times. Anecdotally, a friend of mine volubly insisted that drying beans, powdering them, and then sprinkling it on her food, did amazing things for her type 2 diabetes and helped her lose stubborn weight. There is plenty of clinical research to suggest her claim is reasonable.

Research suggests that at least 3/4 cup of beans a day is ideal.
 

Fabulous fungus:

This is not only my favorite foods, but maybe one of the most healthy foods, full stop. There is a plethora of research on the benefits of mushrooms across the board. Go to any chinese herbalist and the mushroom holds the place of pride on the shelves. Among the potent are the immune system boost, anti-cancer properties, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and DNA protective, anti-angiogenesis, cancer cell apoptosis, and anti-aromatase (blocking estrogen production) effects. Studies show that 10 grams of mushrooms daily can reduce cancer rates by up to 65% (if you are looking for a massive health boost, combine mushrooms with green tea consumption.) I have to admit that when it comes to fungi, I am a bit of a fan boy. It really has remarkable properties that are briefly described in this post on the marvellous mushroom. Suffice it to say, you should be eating them every day for a slew of solid reasons.

Best of all is the amazing range of tasty ways mushrooms can be prepared. As a general rule, it is important to cook them before eating as they can contain carcinogenic compounds in the raw form. The darker varieties like cremini, portabello, oyster, reishi, and shiitake, while packed with micronutrients, are particularly high in anti-oxidants, and lend themselves to hearty dishes. I use them in place of proteins in everything from pasta to stews and even sandwiches (my portabello burger is outrageous.)

Even as few as 50 grams a day shows clinical benefits, so about 3-6 mushrooms depending on variety (darker are better I believe.) They are also effective when air dried and powdered.


The overlooked onion:

Although we all know about the value of garlic and shallots for good health, many people don't realize that the rest of the allium family are also excellent for good health. Onions, leeks, and scallions have powerful beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, have anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. Onions are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds which are released with chopping, crushing or chewing (which is why you must always chop or process onions before eating.)

Most notably, studies find that consistent consumption of onions, garlic, and allium vegetables results in lower risks of gastric and prostate cancers. Compounds in onions prevent cancer growth by attacking and detoxifying carcinogens, preventing cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis. Along with the previous foods, onions contain high concentrations of flavonoid antioxidants, like quercetin (red onions contain more than 25 different anthocyanins!) These are known to powerfully slow cancer cell growth and tumor development, induces apoptosis (cell death) in colon cancer cells.

Just a couple of slices a day in salads, sandwiches, or meals is enough to provide real benefits. Make sure you cut/chop/crush them first.


Berries are the best:

Throughout our blog, you will find multiple articles on the benefits of berries. We constantly rave about these remarkable foods and use them in several of our supplements. You will find full articles that go into great depth on why these foods are simply one of the most important of all. Berries really are super foods - quite possibly, hands down, the best food you can eat. While not only delicious, they are low in sugar, high in fiber, and rich in key nutrients.

As we mentioned, vibrant color in foods mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins. The ORAC is a measurement of antioxidant value in foods, and berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. This content confers cardiovascular-protective, cell-protective, and anti-cancer effects, reducing blood pressure, inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline. Berries are an excellent food for the brain – berry consumption improves both motor coordination and memory.

Most research suggests that a half cup of fresh or dried berries a day will boost health. Also, interestingly, research shows that an additional benefit of berries is that they dehydrate well, maintaining bio-availability, and in cases, even increasing in potency. This makes berries very useful in supplement form, especially given how hard it is to find them easily, locally, or in certain varieties.

Seeds and nuts -- bearers of life:

Plenty of research exists at this stage showing the importance of seeds and nuts to daily health. Even the FDA has published on the scientific evidence suggesting that eating nuts (and seeds we add) may be able to reduce risk of heart disease. Large scale studies like those done by The Physicians Health Study show that increased nut consumption results in decreased frequency of heart disease. The list of the top seven most important nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc) are actually a combination of nuts, drupes, and seeds.

These foods, as you would imagine given their role, are densely packed with nutrients. They are rich in key micronutrients like calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, vitamins / anti-oxidants, are high in protein, fiber, and contain a remarkable 35% omega-3 oil. Just imagine that you can get two thirds of your daily requirement of amino acids from a serving of nuts alone! They show benefits to not only daily bodily functions, but also heart and gut health, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control. My favorites are chia, sesame, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; almonds, walnuts and pine nuts. And like beans, they are very versatile, being easily added to almost anything from cereal to salads to dinners.

Studies recommend 40 grams, or about 3 tablespoons of seeds and nuts a day to keep your body well supplied. Try to eat them raw and choose organic sources. It you must roast them, choose dry roasted.

 

Probiotics are more than just your stomach's best friend:

Probiotics are yeasts and bacteria that are beneficial to your health, so-called "good" bacteria (there are hundreds of types just in your GI tract and some estimates say your body contains about 3 pounds of bacteria.) They are important because they are both full of valuable nutrients as well as help move food through the digestive system, protect against harmful and pathogenic strains, and also promote good overall immune health (70% of your immune system is in your gut.) Most people know of the Lactobacillus varieties found in yoghurt, but there are some other good probiotic sources that can be added to a daily diet that will help you to optimal health.

Unpasteurized sauerkraut is an excellent source of probiotics, as is Kim Chee if you like spicy food. Most fermented foods like soft cheese, sour pickles, miso (fermented soybean), and kefir all provide invaluable probiotic varieties and are delicious so that they can be easily added to your daily diet. Moreover, they have the additional benefit of being easy to keep and store.

Daily dosages are harder to identify for probiotics, especially as it can vary for person to person. It is measured in colony forming units (CFUs), and the range is in the billions of CFUs a day. It may be a conversation with your doctor, but if you are healthy, eating a serving of pickles or sauerkraut a day should not be difficult and will help you to better daily health.

 

Don't forget to spice up your day:

Just a quick final mention of the oft-forgotten spice. These foods contain a surprising storehouse of valuable daily nutrients. Turmeric, cinnamon, and fenugreek are all examples of spices that have real science behind their effectiveness in a variety of critical areas, including blood sugar balance, anti-cancer, and heart health. Often in the west we forget to include them in our meals, which is a sad thing because not only do they spice our foods up, but remember that once they were so highly prized that they were a form of currency, and for good reason. Just adding cinnamon to your daily diet can help bring blood sugar spikes under control. Pepper powders can help increase metabolism and caloric burning. And turmeric is fifty times as powerful an anti-oxidant as vitamin C. 

Our list of favorites for daily consumption (based on clinical studies of value) are cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, curry powder, oregano, parsley, nutmeg, ginger, and chili/pepper. Remember to keep fresh spices on hand.

Related Posts: 
The Importance of Being Alkaline - Know Your pH ! 
For the Love of Food, What We Eat Can Heal
4 G's for Anti-Aging: Garlic, Ginger, Ginseng & Gingko 

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The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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