If foods were superheroes, these 20 items would be the most powerful of them all! Packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help your body function at its best, these healthy foods are the ultimate way to prevent diseases and live longer. See the world's healthiest foods!
Broccoli Kids may turn up their noses at this green vegetable, but adults should be adding more to their plates. Rich in fiber and several detoxifying phytonutrients, broccoli may help you lower your cholesterol and risk of cancer. Pregnant women should also take notice – broccoli is a good source of folic acid, an important prenatal nutrient.
Eggs Though people with cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol may want to steer clear of these nutrient-packed foods, most people can dig in. A recent study including more than 200,000 people found that eating up to an egg a day did not increase risk of heart disease. With just 72 calories and 6 grams of protein per large egg, this popular breakfast food is an easy way to fill up. It's also packed with choline, an inflammation-fighting nutrient that's essential to our health but our bodies can't produce enough of it by themselves.
Kale Just like its leafy green cousin spinach, kale is a superfood. For just 36 calories per cup, you get ample amounts of calcium and vitamins A, C and K. But you get way more than that – the vitamins in kale make it a proven cancer-fighter, and though detox diets don't work, nutrients in kale naturally help cells remove toxins.
Tomatoes Their deep red color gives away their most important nutrient: lycopene. This nutrient may have cancer-fighting properties that cut one's risk of prostate, lung and stomach cancers. Tomatoes are also packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects your heart.
Salmon Salmon is the golden child of seafood. One of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, studies show salmon may reduce high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. Even better, it's literally brain food. It's packed with DHA, an omega-3 that has been show to protect the brain against Alzheimer's.
Berries Low in calories, but packed with fiber and cancer-preventing antioxidants, berries are an excellent addition to cereal, salads and more. But they may be more than a sweet snack. Not only have they been proven to boost brainpower, but a new study found that ladies eating three bowls of blueberries and strawberries per week decreased their risk of heart attacks by as much as one-third.
Walnuts A vegetarian way to get omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are one heart-healthy nut. Study after study proves their vascular benefits, from decreasing "bad" cholesterol to reducing inflammation. They're also a flat belly food, preventing metabolic syndrome and the belly fat that goes with it!
Lentils These delicious (and easy to prepare) legumes are an excellent combination of protein and fiber as well as plenty of important nutrients like immunity-boosting iron and zinc. Proven to be part of a heart-healthy diet, recent research also shows that eating plenty of lentils may help diabetics control their blood sugar levels.
Bananas A favorite of endurance athletes, these 100-calorie fruits are full of health benefits. Best known for their healthy amounts of blood pressure-lowering potassium, bananas also contain filling fiber and have compounds that help you absorb more healthy nutrients from your favorite foods.
Almonds These nuts make the perfect snack food. A quarter cup is right at 200 calories, but you also get 7 grams of protein, nearly 4 grams of fiber and more than half of your daily vitamin E. Those with high cholesterol should take note: Swapping almonds for a similar serving of a carb-heavy snack reduced heart disease risk by 30 percent.
Avocados Who doesn't want an excuse to eat a little bit more guacamole? Avocados are rich, creamy and a good source of fiber, folate and heart-healthy fats. They fight inflammation and fat – in a recent study, avocado eaters had lower BMIs than those who didn't eat avocados.
Quinoa Don't mistake quinoa for a grain. Despite its grain-like quality, it's actually a seed, which may be why it's packed with both protein and fiber – 8 grams and 5 grams, respectively, per cup – as well as anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It's also popular with vegetarians, because it has all the essential amino acids, which is usually only found in meats.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil The Mediterranean diet – packed with lots of veggies and healthy fats – is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. That's thanks largely to olive oil, which is full of monounsaturated fatty acids proven to boost heart health and decrease bad cholesterol.
Green Tea To describe all of green tea's health benefits, you'd have to write a book. This simple sip is antioxidant-packed and full of flavonoids that may help reduce your risk of cancer, speed up metabolism and prevent heart disease. Drink up! A Japanese study found that those drinking five or more cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of death – 23 percent for women and 12 percent for men.
Oats A handy breakfast staple, oats are a proven cholesterol-lowering food. Getting three grams of soluble fiber a day (found in your bowl of oatmeal) can lower your cholesterol by up to 23 percent. With high fiber content, they also make an edible way to prevent high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Black Beans Packed with both folate and soluble fiber, black beans should be a staple in your diet. But because black beans also contain more than 15 grams of protein per one-cup serving, they are especially filling and may even help balance blood sugar. These legumes are also a good source of magnesium – one cup contains more than 30% of women's daily requirements – which can improve circulation.
Sweet Potatoes Don’t just eat these sweet veggies on Thanksgiving. Rich in fiber, studies show sweet potatoes may actually help type 2 diabetes patients improve their blood sugar regulation. They're also the best sources of vision-boosting beta carotene. Just make sure to add a bit of olive oil, because the fat helps your body better absorb the beta carotene.
Grass-Fed Beef Yes, too much red meat isn't exactly heart-healthy, but moderate amounts of grass-fed beef can provide important nutrients you may not get anywhere else. Compared to conventionally prepared beef, grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and iron. It's also leaner and lower in cholesterol! Sounds like a smart indulgence when you're craving red meat.
Nonfat Yogurt One container of nonfat yogurt contains right around 130 calories and 14 grams of protein, not to mention nearly 50 percent of you daily calcium needs. It makes a filling snack, especially if you add berries or nuts to it. But, most importantly, yogurt may be a dieter's best friend. A 2011 Harvard study found that people who ate more yogurt lost about .8 pounds every four years. That's pretty good for simply eating a delicious snack.