Health foods: Almonds make the list
Give your diet a healthy boost with these 10 health foods. They're among your best bets for eating well because they meet at least three of the following criteria:
- Good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
- High in phytonutrients and antioxidant compounds, such as vitamins A and E and beta carotene
- May help reduce risk of heart disease and other health conditions
- Readily available
As an example, almonds are packed with nutrients — fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and calcium. A 1-ounce portion also provides over 30 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin E. And most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat — a healthier type of fat that may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Apples — the original health food
Apples are a good source of soluble fiber, which can lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Fresh apples are also a good source of vitamin C — an antioxidant that protects your body's cells from damage. Vitamin C also helps form the connective tissue collagen, keeps your capillaries and other blood vessels healthy, and aids in the absorption of iron.
Desperately seeking salmon
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids — a type of fat that makes your blood less likely to form clots that may cause heart attacks. Omega-3s may also protect against irregular heartbeats that may cause sudden cardiac death, and they help decrease triglyceride levels, decrease the growth of artery-clogging plaques and slightly lower blood pressure. In addition to containing omega-3s, salmon is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a good source of protein.
Popeye knew the power of spinach
Spinach is high in vitamins A and C and folate. It's also a good source of magnesium. The plant compounds in spinach may boost your immune system. The carotenoids found in spinach — beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin — also are protective against age-related vision diseases, such as macular degeneration, as well as heart disease and some types of cancer.
Sweet potatoes make the cut
The deep orange-yellow color of sweet potatoes tells you that they're high in the antioxidant beta carotene. Food sources of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in your body, may help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of some cancers. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, vitamin B-6 and potassium. And like all vegetables, they're relatively low in calories — one-half of a large sweet potato has just 81 calories.