Ads and social media posts often suggest that to be healthy you should eat or just buy the latest superfood. organic. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a lot of food staples that you already have at home that provide you with many health benefits. Whether it’s pasta or your favorite fruit, if you have a varied diet, chances are you’re already getting all the nutrients you need.
We are here to debunk the myth that the only way to achieve optimal health is through expensive and often inaccessible supplements. Here are some common everyday foods that offer a lot of benefits.
You may not have expected to see this on the list. Bread is a staple in most homes and can be packed with essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, and fiber. While white bread can raise blood sugar levels and doesn’t offer much nutritional value other than carbohydrates (unless the white bread is fortified with vitamins and minerals such as thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3) to replace nutrients lost during processing) , its whole-grain counterpart contains additional fiber and nutrients and can help manage blood pressure while lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consuming whole grains in place of refined grains is also associated with lower cholesterol and insulin levels.
Oats are one of my favorite foods on this list. They are versatile, relatively easy to use, and inexpensive. When we look at their nutritional offerings, we find that oats are quite filling. According to the USDA, oats are loaded with complex carbohydrates, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals such as B1, B3, B5, B6, folate and iron. Oats are also a whole grain, and a meta-analysis found that the highest intake of whole grains was significantly associated with a 21% lower risk of heart disease compared to those with the lowest intake. Another meta-analysis, including studies that followed people with type 2 diabetes, found that eating oats significantly reduced the rise in blood sugar after a meal. Choose steel-cut or rolled oats to reap the most benefits, since instant oatmeal is more processed and has a slightly higher glycemic index.
This creamy, vibrant orange (although some may vary in color such as beige or purple) root vegetable is versatile, too—it can be sautéed, roasted, boiled, sautéed, pureed, baked, or air-fried. Sweet potatoes contain tons of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene (a natural orange pigment found in plants that the body converts into vitamin A). One large sweet potato contains 400% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vitamin A helps you maintain optimal vision and supports human health. A healthy immune system.
You might be excited to see another fan favorite on this list. Pasta is made from wheat, which is a grain – one of the basic food groups in a balanced diet. Some types of pasta are stripped of their nutrients during the refining process. However, most are fortified with folic acid, iron, and B vitamins. If you’re looking for a refined-free option, try whole-grain pasta — which has been shown to keep you full for longer — or pasta made with vegetables. Chickpea pasta has become popular lately and is rich in fiber and protein, making it an excellent choice for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Eggs are a great source of protein, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamins B2, B5, and B12. They also keep you fuller for longer, which can be beneficial for maintaining a balanced eating schedule. Eggs have gained a bad reputation due to their high cholesterol content. A large egg contains about 186 mg of cholesterol, which is just over half the recommended daily amount (300 mg) if you’re not at risk of heart disease. If you’re at risk for heart disease, one egg nearly reaches your recommended daily intake (200 mg). Despite the amount of cholesterol found in eggs, some studies have found that they do not seem to raise cholesterol levels in the body as much as trans fats and saturated fats.
Yogurt is another of those accessible, affordable, and convenient foods. It is a great source of calcium, protein and probiotics. Yogurt often starts as milk, then is pasteurized and fermented with live bacteria. Yogurt can promote many health benefits such as aiding digestion, managing IBS, and preventing osteoporosis. When shopping for yogurt, it’s best to choose plain or Greek yogurt with simple ingredients and no added sugars to get the most benefits, according to Harvard Medical School.
I am a big fan of garlic. I add it to most of the delicious dishes I make at home. Besides making your food extra tasty, garlic has many health benefits. It has been linked to reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels. As reported by Providence Health and Services, garlic has also been associated with improving heart health by protecting against cell damage and lowering blood pressure. If you suffer from digestive issues, garlic may also help your digestion. However, it is important to listen to your body because eating too much garlic can also cause bloating. Eating garlic may also help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu.
Tea lovers? great! Because you’re probably getting a good amount of antioxidants from it, which can help protect against free radicals (pesky atoms that can cause damage to cells). Green tea is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie beverage that is a rich source of polyphenols that can protect against oxidative damage and reduce inflammation. Green tea has also been linked to many health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol levels and supporting heart health. As if that wasn’t enough, the National Cancer Institute reports that drinking green tea is also associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer.
Berries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in your home. They are rich in vitamins C and K, prebiotics, potassium, fiber and antioxidants. Berries also contain disease-fighting nutrients that may help reduce the risk of age-related conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Eating berries is also linked to improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and can boost your immunity.
Bananas should be on your radar if you are looking for a highly nutritious fruit with many health benefits. They are a great source of fiber, vitamins B6 and C, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Healthlines notes that bananas also make a great pre-workout snack because they fill you with energy and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Nuts have abundant nutritional benefits. They have tons of healthy fats, which can help regulate cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation associated with heart disease. Nuts also contain essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, iron, selenium and zinc, all of which play an important role in the proper growth and development of cells. Eating a handful of nuts daily can help boost energy and improve digestion. Because nuts are calorie-dense, the serving size is quite small — just an ounce, or about a handful. Nuts are your best friend if you are looking for a nutritious snack.
Onions are not only versatile and delicious, they also offer many health benefits. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help boost your overall health, such as improving heart health, boosting immune function, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation and preventing certain cancers. Onions also contain prebiotic fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and can help you sleep better.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.