If you want to have a healthy diet, you know you need to reduce sugar and eat more vegetables. But your body also needs a good amount of healthy fats, some fermented foods as well as nutrients that help fight inflammation and prevent disease.
In my own life and in my professional experience with other women, I have found that the seven foods below are among the best ones to make our diet nutritious and healthy.
Of course, this list is not meant to be exhaustive and there are many other foods that can give your health a boost. Note that the foods below are best eaten from natural or organic sources, and unprocessed.
1. Raw Almonds
Almonds are a great source of protein, fiber, iron, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Just one ounce of almonds provides about 37 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E.
Recent research has shown that eating about 1.5 oz. of almonds every day can help prevent the onset of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in healthy people.
Kefir is a traditionally lacto-fermented food that comes from the Caucasus and contains many healthy probiotics, which are microorganisms that can have health benefits when consumed. These probiotics can help improve digestion as well as weight management.
Yogurt is a very well known food containing probiotics, but kefir is much more potent, as it contains about 30 strains of microorganisms.
Lactobacillus kefiri, a probiotic that's unique to kefir, can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli.
3. Raw Avocados
Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, mostly monounsaturated fats, the same fats as almonds. They also provide many important nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamins B, K, E, and C, and they are low in fructose.
There are many ways you can enjoy avocados: in salads, added to sandwiches, in smoothies... they are very easy to add to your diet.
4. Unrefined Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a bad rep because it's high in saturated fat. But half the fat in coconut oil is actually lauric acid, which is also present in human milk. It gets converted in our body into monolaurin, which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
And the saturated fat found in coconut oil also has health benefits, such as promoting weight loss in obese women. Researchers reported that coconut oil and other medium-chain triglycerides "increase energy expenditure, may result in faster satiety and facilitate weight control when included in the diet as a replacement for fats containing long-chain triglycerides", such as vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats.
Good quality eggs from hens that have been raised on pasture are a wonderful source of many nutrients that we are often deficient in.
An egg contains high-quality protein including nine essential amino-acids, which are amino-acids the body can't produce on its own, vitamin B12, folate, and carotenoids, that get converted into vitamin A.
Research has shown that eating about one egg per day does not increase heart disease risk for people who have a healthy metabolism. For people who have diabetes and heart disease, it is best to limit egg consumption to no more than three yolks per week.
6. Ginger and Turmeric
Ginger and turmeric are botanically related and they both have interesting health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, and fighting infections. Promising new research even showed that ginger may have anti-diabetic properties.
Turmeric (also called curcumin) has powerful anti-inflammatory properties: It blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. This molecule is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases. So, turmeric is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation in our body.
This is why a pinch of turmeric powder on your food is a good idea (up to 2 grams per day has been deemed safe by research).
Butter made with milk from grass-fed cows is an excellent source of high-quality nutrients. It contains vitamin A as well as other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and vitamin K2, which helps absorb calcium.
Butter boosts minerals like zinc, copper and selenium, a powerful antioxidant that's needed even more as we age, and it's also a great source of iodine.
And now, let's take action! Pick one, two or more of these foods, add them to your diet several times per week or every day, and look at how you feel after a few weeks or months.
Anne Ricci is dedicated to helping women eat more real food, boost their energy and feel good in their body. You can join her tribe and get personalized tips at AnnesHealthyKitchen's Community.