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April 2020

5 Good-For-You Foods to Boost Your Nutrition

Experts seem to agree: Good nutrition involves a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Still, some foods pack more disease-fighting nutrients than others. When designing a varied diet, consider moving some of these “super” nutritious foods to the top of your pick list.

1. Berries

Various berries—including blueberries and raspberries—are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and folate, making them a nutritional powerhouse. Some research has found that another nutrient in berries, flavonoids, could play a role in protecting cognitive function as you age.

2. Broccoli

Eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables has been linked to a lower risk for certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer. The magic ingredient: a rich source of glucosinolates. Other vegetables in the cruciferous family include Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale.         

3. Salmon and other fatty fish

All fish are good sources of protein. And fatty types—such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines—contain high amounts of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Other sources of omega-3s include:

  • Fish oil supplements

  • Flaxseed and flaxseed oil

  • Walnuts

  • Canola oil

Before taking fish oil supplements, talk with your healthcare provider to see if they are right for you.

4. Barley and fiber-rich foods

Barley contains soluble fiber, which helps slow the digestion of carbohydrates and has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). This type of fiber is also found in many other foods, including dry peas and beans, fruits and vegetables, oat bran, nuts, and seeds.

5. Pecans

These nuts offer high levels of antioxidants that have been tied to heart benefits. Pecans are also an excellent source of manganese, which helps manage blood sugar levels and promote healthy bones.

Bad-for-you foods to limit in your diet

Eating a piece of cake or a serving of French fries once in a while probably won’t hurt you. But foods that contain few—or no—nutrients often take the place of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables. 

Plus, many junk foods, fast foods, and sweets are high in saturated or trans fats, which raise levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood. These foods also tend to be high in calories. 

So put the following foods on your “enjoy occasionally” list:

  • Fried chicken 

  • Soda

  • Candy

  • Cakes, cookies, and pie

  • Ice cream

  • Fast-food hamburgers

  • French fries

  • Potato chips and other chips



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2019
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