Step into any supermarket and you’ll see thousands of labels shouting good-health claims: Whole grains! No trans fats! Essential vitamins and minerals! But figuring out what really is part of a healthy diet is getting harder and harder in these days of information overload. And it shows in the sobering statistics: 66% of Americans are overweight or obese—which is a big reason more of us are developing diseases such as diabetes, and at younger ages.
That’s why Woman’s Day is launching a yearlong series, Eat Healthy America. Our goal is to make healthy eating a no-brainer. In every issue, you’ll find easy ideas and advice that’ll help you make smart choices, plan balanced (and great-tasting) meals, get a grip on portions, and more. We’ll also prompt you to take small, doable steps that will help you eat better for good.
Start here: Clean out your kitchen, tossing as many unhealthy items as you can. Single-ingredient foods— apples, chicken, cooking oil, etc.—are keepers. Packaged foods with long lists of hard-to-pronounce ingredients go out, especially if they contain more than 7% of calories from saturated fat or more than 10% of calories from sugar. Now, turn the page and find out what you’ve made room for!
Fill up on these nutrient packed foods, which can help you fight disease. Feel more energetic and even lose weight.
1. Eggs Each egg has 6 grams of protein but just 72 calories. No wonder researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found that eating eggs for breakfast (as part of a low-cal diet) helps you slim down.
2. Tomato sauce It’s loaded with lycopene, which makes your skin look younger and keeps your heart healthy. In fact, a Harvard study found that women with the most lycopene in their blood reduced their risk of a heart attack by 34%.
3. Dried plums(prunes) They’re packed with polyphenols, plant chemicals that have been shown to boost bone density by stimulating your bone-building cells.
4. Walnuts Just 14 walnut halves provide more than twice your daily dose of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that’s been shown to improve memory and coordination.
5. Brussels sprouts They have more glucosinolates (compounds that combat cancer and detoxify our bodies) than any other vegetable. For a side dish that will make you wonder why you’ve been avoiding them, slice each one into quarters, then sauté in olive oil with chopped sweet Vidalia onions.
6. Acai juice A glass or two of this anthocyanin-rich berry juice can dramatically boost the amount of antioxidants in your blood, say Texas A&M University researchers.
7. Apples They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of lung cancer.
8. Bok choy This calcium-rich veggie can protect your bones and may even ward off PMS symptoms.
9. Steel-cut oats Because they’re less processed than traditional oats, they’re digested more slowly—keeping you full all morning long.
10. Salmon You’ll get all the heart-smart omega-3s you need in a day from just 3 oz.
11. Avocados Their healthy fat keeps you satisfied and helps you absorb other nutrients. For a new u twist, brush a halved avocado (pit removed) with olive oil and grill 1 minute. Serve with red onion, sliced grapefruit and balsamic vinegar.
12. Spinach A half-cup provides more than five times your daily dose of vitamin K, which helps blood clot and builds strong bones.
13. Canned pumpkin It’s filled with natural cancer fighters alpha- and beta-carotene.
14. Cauliflower White foods can be good for you! This one is packed with cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
15. Scallops A 3-oz serving has 14 grams of protein but just 75 calories.
16. Collard greens They’re exploding with nutrients like vitamin A, zeaxanthin and lutein, which keep your eyes healthy.
17. Olives They deliver the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat you get in olive oil, but for just 7 calories per jumbo olive!
18. Brown rice It’s a top source of magnesium, a mineral your body uses for more than 300 chemical reactions (such as building bones and converting food to energy).
19. Oysters These keep your immune system strong. A 3-oz serving (about 6 oysters) dishes up a quarter of your daily iron, plus nearly twice the zinc and all the selenium you need in a day.
20. Edamame One cup has a whopping 22 grams of plant protein, as well as lots of fiber, folate and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
21. Strawberries They’re loaded with ellagitannins, phytochemicals that may halt the growth of cervical and colon cancers.
22. Lentils A great source of meat-free protein, a half-cup of cooked lentils also gives you nearly half your daily folate, a B vitamin that protects a woman’s unborn baby from neural tube defects.
23. Bran flakes Their whole grains keep your heart in tip-top shape by reducing inflammation and melting away belly fat.
24. Kiwi Italian researchers found that it reduces asthma-related wheezing, thanks to its high vitamin C content (one kiwi has 110% of your daily requirement).
25. Black beans They’re loaded with protein, fiber, and flavonoids—antioxidants that help your arteries stay relaxed and pliable.
26. Sunflower seeds A quarter-cup delivers half your day’s vitamin E, which keeps your heart healthy and fights infection.
27. Sardines 3 oz provide more than 100% of your daily vitamin D. Sardines are also a top source of omega-3 fats. Try adding mashed canned sardines to marinara sauce and serving over whole-wheat pasta.
28. Asparagus A half-cup supplies 50% of your daily bone-building vitamin K and a third of your day’s folate, it’s a natural diuretic so it banishes bloating, too.
29. Bananas They’re loaded with several kinds of good-for-you fiber, including resistant starch (which helps you slim down).
30. Broccoli sprouts They have 10 times more of the cancer-preventing compound glucoraphanin than regular broccoli.
31. Fat-free milk With a third of the calcium and half the vitamin D you need in a day, plus 8 grams u of muscle-building protein, it’s the ultimate energy drink.
32. Baked potatoes Each one packs a megadose of blood-pressure–lowering potassium—even more than a banana.
33. Sweet potatoes Half of a large baked sweet potato delivers more than 450% of your daily dose of vitamin A, which protects your vision and your immune system.
34. Flaxseed Not only is flaxseed loaded with plant omega-3s, it also has more lignans (compounds that may prevent endometrial and ovarian cancer) than any other food. Store ground flaxseed in your refrigerator and sprinkle on yogurt, cold cereal or oatmeal.
35. Greek yogurt It has twice the protein of regular yogurt.
36. Dried tart cherries Researchers at Michigan State University found their potent anthocyanins help control blood sugar, reduce insulin and lower cholesterol.
37. Wheat germ A quarter-cup gives you more than 40% of your daily vitamin E and immune-boosting selenium.
38. Whole-wheat english muffins You get 4 ½ grams of fiber for only 134 calories.
39. Tea Both green and black tea prevent hardening of the arteries, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.
40. Peanut butter This smart spread has arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels healthy.
41. Blackberries The king of the berry family boasts more antioxidants than strawberries, cranberries or blueberries.
42. Mustard greens These “greens” (actually a cruciferous veggie) are a top source of vitamin K. For a tasty pesto, chop them in a food processor with garlic, walnuts, Parmesan and olive oil.
43. Grapes They’re a leading source of resveratrol, the plant chemical responsible for the heart-healthy benefits of red wine.
44. Soy milk A good source of vegetable protein, calcium-enriched soy milk has as much calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk.
45. Brazil nuts They have more selenium than any other food. One nut delivers your entire day’s worth!
46. Canola oil A Tbsp of this heart-healthy oil has all the alpha-linolenic acid you need in a day, plus two different forms of vitamin E.
47. Blueberries They improve memory by protecting your brain from inflammation and boosting communication between brain cells.
48. Oranges One orange supplies more than 100% of the vitamin C you need in a day. It’s also a good source of calcium and folate.
49. Watercress With just 4 calories per cup, this cruciferous veggie delivers a hefty dose of vitamin K, zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
50. Turkey breast It has 20 grams of satisfying protein but just 90 calories per 3-oz serving.
51. Barley A top source of beta-glucan, a fiber that lowers cholesterol and helps control blood sugar.
52. Shiitake mushrooms One serving (about ¼ lb) provides as much vitamin D as you’d get from a glass of milk.