Healthy food: Just for a second, imagine a world with the perfect food. A food that contains all the necessary nutrients in appropriate proportions that meet but do not exceed the daily nutrients demand. Consuming such a food everyday without taking any other will provide the balanced nutritional requirements for the body.
Unfortunately, such a food is non-existent and the scenario we are left with in reality is more of ‘not all calories are created equal’. The ‘perfect food’ is just a myth. Sadly.
Notwithstanding, we can try to achieve the balanced nutritional requirements by combining a variety of different foods in such a way that when consumed together, provides all the required nutrients and does not provide too much of any one nutrient to avoid exceeding the daily nutritional amounts needed.
Here are 10 of the most healthy and weight-loss friendly foods in the world whose nutritional values are well supported by scientific research.
Sweet potatoes have been proven to contain a diverse range of nutrients. It has a little of every nutrient you need daily. Among the many nutrients they provide include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6 and dietary fibre.
They have been proven to be particularly high in potassium which is a very vital nutrient that plays an important role in the control of blood pressure.
Sweet potatoes when boiled, are among the most filling foods. They are particularly good at reducing your appetite, potentially suppressing your food intake later in the day, thereby aiding weight-loss.
Beans and legumes
Beans and other legumes have been proven to be beneficial for weight loss. This broad category of legumes include black beans, kidney beans, lentils and some others.
These foods tend to be high in protein and soluble fiber, which is revered for being a filling agent in food and can improve the digestive system, stabilise blood sugar and reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
Studies have shown that beans and other legumes are a great source of antioxidants and can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
These are a low-energy, nutrient-dense food that is high in lycopene which has been proven to reduce risk of prostate and lung cancer. They are also an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and E, folate and potassium.
They have also been acknowledged by scientists for other benefits such as a strengthened immune system, prevention of blood clots and an improved heart health.
Eggs? Well yes. Eggs!
Eggs have had quite a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol, they are undoubtedly among the best foods to eat if you want to be healthy and probably lose weight.
Truth is, a high consumption of eggs may increase the levels of LDL-cholesterol in some consumers which is bad. This is why moderation is the key to benefiting from this wonder food.
Eggs are high in protein and fat. They are nutrient dense which means they provide any nutrient you need in the right amounts on a calorie-restricted diet. They are also incredibly filling and aid weight-loss.
Fun Fact: Most, if not all the nutrients are found in the yolk.
Yogurt is one of the most common foods and is frequently used as a healthy substitute for icecream. It is produced by fermenting milk with a yogurt culture. They are rich in various nutrients and also contain active, living probiotic bacteria which help to keep the gut healthy.
Yogurt is high in protein, vitamins B6 and B12, potassium, riboflavin, magnesium and calcium which offers protection for teeth and bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The probiotic bacteria help to boost the immune system and prevent digestive problems.
A research carried out in 2014 concluded that consuming yogurts could help prevent type 2 diabetes.
However, not all yogurts are good for your health. Those with ‘unnecessary’ additives and added sugar are not beneficial to the body.
This is a low-fat diet food. Research has shown that it possesses some cardiovascular health benefits, reduces risk of diabetes, lowers cholesterol and reduces blood pressure. These benefits have increased its popularity over the years.
Oats contain mainly water soluble fibre and carbohydrates. These help to slow down digestion and help regulate the levels of sugar in the blood.
Oats also contain many minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc and are an excellent source of vitamin B, which is good for the nervous system.
Though people try to avoid eating avocados due to their relatively high fat content, studies have however shown that they are one of the most healthy foods.
In 2018, a study showed that avocados were able to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein which are referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol. This good cholesterol helps to eliminate even more harmful cholesterol from the blood.
In 2019, a test tube study which was carried out on avocados showed that avocados have anticancer properties. The study showed that coloured avocado seed extract reduced the actions of breast, colon and prostate cancer cells. The study however didn’t conclude if thpae results would be the same in humans.
Avocados are a rich source of fibre and very important fats as well as vitamin B, K and E. They improve nutrient absorption, have fewer metabolic risk factors and provide a better overall diet.
These category include cabbage, broccoli, kale, collard greens, radishes, turnips, mustard greens and many more.
These vegetables have been found to contain various health-boosting phytochemicals such as thiocyanates, nitriles and indoles which are known to prevent against some types of cancer.
They are also good sources of fiber and are packed with nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C and K, calcium and iron which help to improve eye health, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of brain damage.
Examples of this type of fish are sardines, salmon, mackerel, trout, and herring. They are called oily fish because they have oil around their gut and in their tissues.
Oily fish like salmon is rich in healthy fats, high-quality protein and is nutrient-dense. It is very satisfying and filling. They are also very rich in vitamins A and D.
Their oils contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids which are very beneficial to the heart and nervous system and help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
These include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts and many more. They are relatively high in fat but are not as fattening as many people think.
Nuts are an excellent source of plant protein and they are a great snack. They contain monounsaturated fats which is the ‘good’ cholesterol which may play an important role in reducing the risk of heart related diseases and may help with diabetes.
Research has shown that people who consume nuts are usually healthier and leaner than those who don’t.
Another study showed that eating nuts promotes weight loss and improves metabolic health.
However, nuts are fairly high in calories so be sure to not consume in excess. If you tend to get addicted to eating nuts in massive amounts- especially at once, it is best to avoid them or consume in moderation.
Everyone wants to be healthy but when it comes to taking a healthy diet, not everyone is willing to do it right. The key to achieving success with a healthy diet is moderation. Too much of everything, they say, is bad.
There are many other healthy foods that may not have made this list and of course, may be suggested by your dietician.
Do not make the common mistake of saddling the responsibility of your health on food alone. To be healthy you must first consume a healthy diet then back it up with regular exercise and finally, avoid unhealthy habits and behaviours.