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10 Foods You Need to Include in Your Diet This Year

10 Foods You Need to Include in Your Diet This Year

Have you pledged to finally adopt a better diet this year? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people say they want to eat healthier as part of their New Year’s resolution.

Sadly, a full 88% have likely already given up.

Would you like to finally stick with your diet this year? First, start thinking less in terms of “diet,” and more “healthy lifestyle change.” Second, eat more of the following foods:

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1. Spinach

Popeye was one smart dude. Spinach is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It’s loaded with nutrients like Vitamins K and A, and folate. Whip up a quick and healthy raw spinach salad by combining baby spinach leaves with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, fresh garlic, and a few almonds.

2. Beets

Beets are another food you should definitely include in your diet this year. Beets are high in folate, fiber, and potassium. If you don’t like raw beets, try roasting them and mixing them with some roasted sweet potatoes to lighten their earthy flavor.

3. Avocados

Avocados are actually a fruit, and one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Avocados are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They are also a great source of fiber. Mix up a quick guacamole dip by combining avocado with lime juice, salt, onion, and minced jalapeno. Yum.

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4. Blueberries

Blueberries are a complete superfood with too many benefits to list. Blueberries help combat aging, ward off disease, lower blood pressure, protect heart and brain, and improve memory.

5. Walnuts

Walnuts contain heart-healthy fats that can lower your cholesterol levels. Eat a handful of raw walnuts every day, or sprinkle some on your salads.

6. Sweet potatoes

While regular potatoes are one of the biggest causes of weight gain, sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of beta carotene. Beta carotene can help support healthy eyes. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Try this healthy sweet potato chips recipe.

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7. Salmon

Salmon is loaded with muscle-building protein and contains heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure you choose wild salmon over farmed, though. Farmed salmon is nasty stuff.

8. Eggs

There’s a huge misconception that eggs are bad for you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. They have 13 essential nutrients, and are a great source of protein and good fats.

9. Olive oil

Research shows that the Mediterranean diet, which is high in healthy fats like olive oil, can reduce your risk of cancer. Replace unhealthy foods in your diet, like margarine and vegetable oil, with olive oil. Here’s an extra bonus: olive oil has other uses beyond diet.

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10. Dark chocolate

You’ll be pleased to know that dark chocolate is actually good for you–and you should definitely include more of it in your diet this year. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and can even help lower your blood pressure. I recommend anything with 70% cocoa or higher to get the maximum benefits.

Finally, knowing what foods to eat is great, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t get into the habit of eating healthier.

Here’s how to do it: first, commit (in writing) to eating healthier and tell everyone you know. This helps hold you accountable. Next, slowly start replacing the foods in your refrigerator and cupboard with the ones above.

The key to turning your “diet” into permanent healthy eating habits is to make it as easy as possible on yourself. If you stock your kitchen with unhealthy snacks, you’re going to reach for those unhealthy snacks when you need a quick fix.

Fortunately, once healthy eating becomes a habit it’s second nature. And, it will lead to other healthy changes in your life.

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on July 28, 2020

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

1. Quinoa

GI: 53

Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

GI: 50

Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

3. Corn on the Cob

GI: 48

Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

4. Bananas

GI: 47

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Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

5. Bran Cereal

GI: 43

Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

6. Natural Muesli

GI: 40

Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

7. Apples

GI: 40

Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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8. Apricots

GI: 30

Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

9. Kidney Beans

GI: 29

Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

10. Barley

GI: 22

Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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11. Raw Nuts

GI: 20

Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

12. Carrots

GI: 16

Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

13. Greek Yogurt

GI: 12

Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

14. Hummus

GI: 6

When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

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Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

Reference

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