Want to get healthier? Eat the right foods. Which ones? We’re glad you asked. We have a list of seven of the best foods you simply must add to your diet this year.
If you’re like most people in the United States, the New Year is a time to start fresh. Whether it’s setting new gym goals to crush, resolving to get fitter or aiming to clean up your diet once and for all, the New Year is all about new goals. You’ve heard it a million times before. Here it is again: You can’t outwork a bad diet. That’s why for many of us, the main resolution we go into the New Year with is a newfound resolve to clean out our fridges.
What you put on your plate will no doubt have the biggest impact on your body in 2017. You can pound the pavement and lift big all year, but if you are loading your diet with empty calories and processed junk, the results will not show themselves the way they should.
Thinking that means a year of boring eats?
Don’t worry. If you’re thinking we are suggesting you go crazy on the broiled tilapia and broccoli, think again. Boring dieting and tired food options should definitely be a habit you kick in 2017, once and for all. There are just too many nutritious and palate-pleasing options out there.
You don’t have to drop your whole paycheck or load up on exotic ingredients to liven up your diet and boost your health either. Many healthy options you might not be eating but should be, are cheap, basic and deserving of a place on your plate. Here are just seven great options to load up on in the coming year. You’ll be spicing up your diet, expanding your horizons and loading up on all the nutrients you need.
Ever heard of this hard-to-pronounce food?
If not, let us introduce you to your new favorite superfood for the New Year. You’ll be thanking us, we promise. Chlorella hails from Taiwan and Japan and has been viewed as a superfood for generations. It provides a laundry list of benefits, but we’ll just rattle off a few. This green algae is able to help detox the body post chemo or radiation, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and promotes a healthy heart.
That’s not all! With just one tablespoon of this bright green powder, you will get a whopper dose of 16 grams of protein, 202% RDA of iron, 282% of the RDA of vitamin A and a punch of B vitamins, zinc and more. Chlorella can literally zap out the damage caused by metals like lead, cadmium, mercury and uranium, which can build up in the body over time.
Do you often eat fish?
We bet you’ve probably got some mercury fillings in your teeth if you are like most, or that you have been exposed to radiation at some point. If any of that applies to you, then it is important to rid your body of these heavy metals and toxins. Chlorella can do just that.
It won’t just heal your insides either. Chlorella can definitely play a part in getting that ripped body you want in the New Year. Studies have shown it is able to aid body fat loss, lower cholesterol and help you shed those pounds with less of a struggle.
The easiest way to get your dose in without even tasting it is to add this great superfood to your normal smoothies or shakes. The taste will be disguised by the other fruits and protein powders you add. Of course, you can also nab a bottle of chlorella tablets for an even easier way to get your greens in.
#2 Spaghetti Squash
If you’re a fan of how carbs taste but not what they do, spaghetti squash is a must. It’s truly one of nature’s best-kept secrets and a gem of a food.
Next time you are in the grocery store, be sure to swing by the squash section of the produce aisle.
What should you look for?
Go for the oblong, pale yellow spaghetti squash. As we progress through the early part of the New Year, winters squashes (such as spaghetti squash, butternut, and acorn) are at the height of the season, so load up now. And if you’ve heard of the veggie but have yet to try it and are wondering, yes, it truly mimics a plate of spaghetti noodles when cooked.
It’s a no-brainer to make, too! Just slice in half long ways, and then stick in a 350-degree oven for a half-hour or so. When tender enough to prick with a fork, scrape out the guts as you would a jack-o-lantern, tossing out the seeds, and fluff up the spaghetti strands with a fork. Serve with pasta sauce and top with whatever protein and veggies you like.
You can also toss it in stews or drizzle with olive oil. Make sure you bake or steam it so as to keep all the nutrients like the vitamin c, beta-carotene, fiber, iron, zinc, potassium, and fiber it’s loaded with.
One cup is a paltry 31 calories so load up, sans guilt.
Can you believe it: A veggie that acts like a carb?
That’s always a win in our books.
We know, you’re thinking of the dreaded cabbage soup diet. Think again.
That’s not what we’re suggesting, so if you’ve ignored or written cabbage off, we suggest you revisit it. If you can get past its less than glowing rep, cabbage is a dietary powerhouse.
A head will only run you a few quarters per pound, but, cheap as it may be, it’s a wealth of nutrients and vitamins. Like spaghetti squash, a cup of chopped, raw cabbage only gives you 20 little calories, yet a host of the nutrients your body needs. Green cabbage is loaded with folate, whereas the red variety has twice as much vitamin C as the green. Either way, it’s a win.
Looking to protect yourself from colon cancer?
Yep, cabbage can help with that too.
Thanks to its bioflavonoids and sulforaphane that it naturally contains, it can actually halt the development of cancer in its tracks.
If that’s not reason enough to toss a head or two into your cart, we don’t know what is. You can sauté it up on its own, with onion, drizzled with soy sauce, or toss into any stew or chili.
#4 Camu Camu
If you haven’t yet heard of this exotic-sounding food, you’re not alone. We propose though that in 2017, you get well acquainted with it. Camu camu comes from a shrub that produces a fruit in the Amazon rainforests in Peru and Brazil. It’s caught on in popularity stateside in recent years and for very good reason. This fruit packs in far more vitamin C, crucial for immunity, than any other food we know of. So it far beats out citrus or that multivitamin you might be taking.
In addition to bulking up your immune system to keep you cold and flu free this season while everyone else is under the weather, camu camu is worth adding to your diet for a host of other reasons. For instance, it’s also known to balance your mood, naturally. Eating it regularly means you’re getting a dose of a strong natural anti-hepatitic and an anti-inflammatory. Just a half a teaspoon will mean you’re getting more than 400% of the RDA for vitamin C, more than 30 times the amount that you would get from an orange. It’s that good!
Studies have also found that camu camu was the second most powerful mood and emotional well-being aid out of a long list of natural chemical compounds known to balance mood.
Because of the reaction that it creates in your brain, you should notice a boost in your mood the day you start using it. Since there are no side effects, unlike when taking a synthetic antidepressant, it can and should absolutely be a part of a healthy routine.
Believe it or not, lentils are much more of a mainstay in other cultures than in America. We’re really not sure why lentils have not yet caught on big here in the U.S. We propose you make them a staple in your diet pronto.
Following a plant-based diet?
Trying to go meatless for Monday or to simply mix up the protein sources in your diet?
Lentils are an obvious must. Since you can cook them in just about any type of dish, sweet or savory, the options are endless. You can even use them as a substitute for flour in healthy desserts.
Not only are lentils a good source of energy and a huge dose of protein, they have certain superfood powers of their own. Lentils give a certain type of protection with relation to insulin resistance, thanks to their dose of fiber. This means they can help prevent type-2 diabetes, which is on the rise in the U.S. Try serving them as a side, over rice, in curries or in any soup or stew.
#6 Apple Cider Vinegar
You can definitely make that a part of your routine if apple cider vinegar (ACV) is your drink of choice. The benefits of this superfood drink are practically endless. If you haven’t already jumped on the ACV bandwagon, 2017 is your year to do so.
Keep in mind: When it comes to vinegar, not all are created equal. Make sure you’re choosing a bottle that contains the mother.
That’s the murky, webby substance along the bottom, where most of the nutrients dwell. It’s packed with a mix of enzymes, protein, and good bacteria.
ACV is to thank for lowering blood sugar, fighting off diabetes, lowering cholesterol and reducing your odds of heart disease. It can also help you to lose weight. Aim for a shot a day, roughly one tablespoon mixed with water. You can also put ACV on your food in the form of a salad dressing.
It’s true: The brighter the berry, the sweeter the juice. And in this case, all the more reason to add them to your diet. Blueberries are a dietary standby for a reason, but if you slacked on in them in 2016, make it a point to add them to your diet in the New Year.
Just a quarter cup a day will do the trick, but if you feel like chowing down on more, do not hold back.
Why are we so high on them?
Simple. Blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties. These heal the body from the inside out and can fight cancer too.
They also lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve memory and help sharpen the brain as it ages. If that wasn’t reason enough to add them to your diet, they also build up a protective wall in the body from just about every major chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease.
Sprinkle them over pancakes, yogurt or oatmeal. You could also toss them into salads or just eat them plain. However you like them, just eat them often.
We can’t think of a better time to clean up your act and make your diet healthier than at the start of a New Year. With just these seven suggestions, you’ll already be off to a great start in this very young year. Ditch dieting once and for all in 2017 and say goodbye to bland meals and choking down your macros. There’s no reason to suffer through all of that with a world of exciting new foods to try.
Here’s to making 2017 your most delicious and healthiest year yet.
By Emily Schneider-Green