When looking to start a healthy diet, it can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many diet foods to choose from, and the media gives us mixed messages about which foods are healthy constantly. Luckily, a registered dietitian is here to quickly break down the best diet foods for dieters looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, I’ll also provide some ideas on how to simply and easily incorporate these foods into your diet.
Here are the eight best diet food for a healthy body.
Nuts often get a bad reputation due to their fat content. However, that is exactly what makes them great! Nuts have plenty of healthy fats called polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and fiber. These nutrients help to provide satiety after a meal and keep dieters full longer.
In addition to keeping you full, nuts have also been shown to help improve your health. For example, one study found that nuts helped improve blood glucose control, weight control, and heart health.
One thing to keep in mind with nut consumption is that because of their high levels of fat, they have a lot of calories. It’s important that when you are eating nuts, you do so in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume about four servings of unsalted nuts per week. One serving of nuts is equal to a small handful of whole nuts (1.5 ounces). If you choose to use nut butter instead, a serving size is two tablespoons.
2. Lean Protein
When you’re dieting or looking to build muscle, you must eat enough protein. We hear this message all the time from personal trainers, magazines, and nutrition coaches, but what foods are they really talking about?
When you’re looking to increase your protein consumption, you want to focus on lean sources of protein. This includes things such as chicken breast and lean beef. Lean protein sources exclude items such as beef or pork, which have more saturated fat (an unhealthy type of fat that you should aim to reduce your intakes of).
In addition to helping you build muscle, protein is actually harder for our body to digest, meaning that we burn more calories in trying to do so. This is referred to as the “thermic effect of food.” Since our body has to work harder to digest lean protein, we end up storing fewer usable calories than if we eat carbohydrates or fat.
Fish, like chicken breast or lean beef, is a high-protein food that is overall low in fat. While certain fishes, such as salmon, are fattier, these contain healthful fats similar to those found in nuts. The fat in fish also provides other nutrients to the body, such as Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, and various mental health disorders, such as depression and dementia.
Fish can also be a great protein source for individuals who follow a plant-forward, Mediterranean, or pescatarian diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults in the US eat two to three servings of fish per week with one serving being about the size of your palm (4 ounces).
4. Whole Grains
While we’ve discussed the fact that protein has a much higher thermic effect on food than carbohydrates or fats, it is still crucial that we have healthy carbohydrates as a part of our diet. To do this, dieters will want to focus on choosing whole grain foods.
Whole grain products are less refined than their counterparts, meaning that they have more nutrients in them. Whole grains provide the body with fiber, which helps keep you feeling full longer and promotes satiety. Fiber can also help lower cholesterol and prevent blood clot formation.
Whole-grain foods also help the body to maintain a steady blood glucose level, something that’s important for all dieters but especially crucial for those with pre-diabetes or diabetes. These foods also supply the body with various vitamins and minerals, such as iron, Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, copper, and antioxidants.
If you’re looking for a way to introduce whole grains into your diet, try incorporating oatmeal into your breakfast! If plain old oatmeal feels too boring, you may want to try making Bircher Muesli, a blend of oats and any toppings you prefer, soaked overnight.
While you have probably heard of nuts, lean protein, and whole grains, the term “legumes” may be a bit more foreign. Legumes are a category of vegetable and include items such as green peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
According to the American Diabetes Association, regular intake of legumes can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and improve blood glucose control for those who have already developed this disease. They have also been shown to improve heart health, and research shows that they may improve weight control, which is key for dieters.
Some legumes, such as chickpeas and beans, can also serve as a great source of lean protein for individuals who are looking to follow a more plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet. Throwing some chickpeas or rinsed, unsalted black beans on top of a salad or brown rice bowl can be a delicious way to get protein and keep yourself full without consuming animal products!
As we have noted, fiber is an extremely important nutrient for dieters. It can help improve blood glucose stability and improve heart health, all while keeping you full and satisfied after meals. Berries, like nuts and whole grains, are high in fiber. In addition, berries provide our bodies with antioxidants, which are substances that can help. prevent cell damage.
It is best to consume antioxidants in whole foods rather than supplements, so go ahead and add some berries into your day! If you are still not convinced, check out these other benefits that fresh or frozen berries can provide.
7. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are yet another great source of fiber as well as other vitamins and minerals. For example, kale and spinach are high in Vitamins A, E, C, and K. Other dark leafy greens such as broccoli and mustard greens are high in many of the B-vitamins.
Dark leafy greens also provide a high level of antioxidants, which, as previously noted, help prevent cell damage. Antioxidants have been known to help prevent osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases. These greens are also low in calories and carbohydrates, which is helpful for those looking to slim down.
Adding dark leafy greens into your diet is so easy! They are the perfect base for a salad, or you can make a sandwich or wrap that includes them.
8. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt, which we’ve already seen is very helpful for those individuals who are dieting. Additionally, greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates than its regular counterpart. Greek yogurt also provides your body with probiotics, which can help to improve gut health and reduce bloating.
When looking for greek yogurt, be sure to choose one that is lower in sugar to prevent the intake of unnecessary calories. Go for an unsweetened yogurt if possible, and add your own toppings such as berries or nuts to give it more flavor.
If you are looking to start a diet while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s not difficult. As we’ve discussed, there are so many healthful foods that many of us are already eating in our daily lives. If you are not eating some of these foods, it is so easy to start!
If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, don’t be afraid to grab a handful of nuts as a snack or make some oatmeal for breakfast in the morning. These foods will help keep you full and provide your body with many of the nutrients it needs to help your diet on track.
More Diet Tips
- 7 Homemade Diet Foods That Are Good For Your Health
- Tasty and Healthy Weight Loss Snacks to Reach Your Goals Fast
- 13 Best Food To Eat For Weight Loss And Energy
Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel via unsplash.com
|NCBI: Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Actions
|Mayo Clinic: Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
|Healthline: How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight Naturally
|Washington State Department of Health: Health Benefits of Fish
|Harvard School of Public Health: Whole Grains
|NCBI: Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake
|John Hopkins Medicine: Berry Good for Your Heart
|Agricultural Research Service: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
|UT Medical Center: The Benefits of Eating Greek Yogurt