Whole wheat bread: Fiber is one big reason to eat whole grains. Adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, and whole grains contain two types — soluble and insoluble — which are both beneficial to your health. You’ll get 5.8 grams of fiber in two slices of dark rye bread, but only 1.9 grams from the same amount of white bread. And you’ll get 5.5 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice compared with 2 grams in uncooked white rice (which is not a whole grain), and only 0.7 in a serving of instant rice. Because it digests slowly, fiber also helps you feel fuller longer. And fiber’s health benefits are well known — it can help control blood sugar, lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and reduce colon cancer risk. Not all whole grains are high in fiber, though. Focus on oats, barley and bulgur
Dark green vegetables: Dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach are some of the least popular choices, yet they’re some of the most nutritious varieties of vegetables that contain particularly high levels of iron, magnesium and folate. Dark greens are also a good source of calcium, which is great for anyone that has to exclude dairy from their diet or is looking to boost their intake of calcium. Vital antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene are also present in dark green vegetables and have been shown to help maintain good eye health, particularly as people age.
Nuts: This food group offers a useful source of key nutrients including magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin E and the B complex as well as heart-protective monounsaturated fats. Although nuts are highly nutritious, it’s wise to watch your portion size as they’re high in calories. Try snacking on nuts, use as a topping for breakfast dishes such as yoghurt or add into salads and rice-based dishes.
Oily fish: This group of fish includes salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring and mackerel all of which contain a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
These fatty acids also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which may also help to reduce the risk of certain disease. In the UK only around 23 per cent of people eat any oily fish each week, which dictates the amount of omega 3 fatty acids they glean from their diet.
Eggs:Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods available and contain a source of nearly all the essential vitamins and minerals required for good health. They’re good for weight loss too as research has shown that people who eat eggs for breakfast eat less across the day. The high protein content of eggs has helps to maintain fullness, which can stave off mid-morning snacking. Contrary to popular belief, there is no limit on the amount of eggs you can eat each week as they have little impact on cholesterol levels.
Yoghurt: Like other dairy foods, yoghurt is a rich source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and also plays a role in muscle function. Yoghurt is a good source of vitamin B12, which is required for the production of red blood cells as well as maintaining a healthy nervous system and converting food into energy.
Beans and pulses: These foods are one of the richest sources of fiber and also contain a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron and folate, all of which help to maintain a healthy heart. Their high iron content makes them a useful addition to the diet of people looking to increase their intake of this mineral, which has been shown to be low in a significant number of women.
Beetroot: The crimson colored beetroot is the most commonly found but if you look further afield then you may also stumble across other varieties that include the golden beet and decorative Chioggia that has distinct pink and white rings when cut. These root vegetables are a very rich source of folate and potassium, both of which are good for your heart. The rich crimson color of beetroot is due to a pigment called betacyanin, which acts as a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce free-radical damage in the body and may also offer protection against diseases such as cancer. A lot of the research about beetroot has centered on its high dietary nitrate content, which is believed to be the reason why this vegetable has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve muscle oxygenation in athletes, although a high quantity of beetroot juice was consumed in research studies.
Dried fruit: These foods are a good way to add natural sweetness to food and are a good source of fiber as well as containing useful amounts of iron, potassium and calcium. Although dried fruits are mostly eaten as healthy snack, they also work well as a topping for porridge and yoghurt, added to stews, casseroles, rice dishes, salads and soaked then pureed to make natural energy bars.