There's nothing worse than deciding to make healthy eating a priority, only to walk into a grocery store and ask yourself, "So what in here is healthy?" Instead of spending 30 minutes comparing two different kinds of bread in an attempt to determine which one is better for you, add these items to your weekly shopping list (in addition to the best non-perishable foods), and you'll be out of there in a flash.
Whole milk has gotten a bad rap lately because of all the other low-fat options, but there's no denying that it's full of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus. These three ingredients are crucial for aiding bone growth and strength. Phosphorus is also used during energy production, and it helps maintain proper communication between cells.
Milk also contains vitamin B12 and riboflavin, which keep the red blood cells healthy. The latter also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
The best way to reap the benefits whole milk is, of course, to just drink a glass of it, but you can also use it when baking or cooking. If you're lactose-intolerant but still want milk's nutrients, you can find many of these ingredients in supplement form, like vitamin B12.
We all know that eggs are a great source of cheap protein, but these little guys contain a whole host of other beneficial nutrients and minerals. According to the SELF nutritional data base, just two eggs in the morning would give you a quarter of your daily value of selenium, a mineral that the body uses to fight harmful free radicals.
Eggs will also load up your body with riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. We mentioned previously what all of those nutrients but folate did for the body, but folate benefits the body in similar ways. Its main role is in the creation and division of DNA and cells. If you have a folate or vitamin B12 deficiency, you can wind up with megaloblastic anemia, which leads to fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Not fun!
But let's say you're not a fan of this breakfast staple? You can always try a folic acid (the synthetic version of folate) supplement.
Cheese has gotten bad publicity for causing weight gain, but it's just too darn delicious to give up. In addition to its rich cheesy goodness, a hunk of cheddar is full of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.
We've all been told the calcium in milk is good for our bones, but did you know there's also calcium — a lot of it, in fact — in cheese? According to Karen Ansel, R.D.N., "snacking on just one ounce of Parmesan gives you 336 milligrams of calcium, and the same amount of cheddar offers 216 milligrams.”
To put that in perspective, a Harvard article recommended women get at least 500 to 700 milligrams of calcium every day.
A 2015 study found that butyrate, a substance found in cheese, could protect against colon cancer. We'll take another slice of pizza, please!
Does cheese not sit right with you? Try a calcium supplement instead.
Not only is bread a delicious vehicle with which you can shovel the above foods into your hungry belly, but it's also a proper source of dietary fiber, selenium, and manganese.
According to the American Heart Association, dietary fiber in whole grains can, "improve blood cholesterol levels, and lower risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes," all while making you feel full so you eat less.
Manganese — a nutrient with a name derived from the Greek word for magic — is indeed pretty magical. It's involved in antioxidant function, our metabolism, bone development, and wound healing. Just one slice of bread supplies your body with more than a quarter (26 percent) of your daily suggested value.
Pick up a fiber supplement if you'd rather cut out the carbs.
If you've ever wandered into an Asian grocery store, you might have found yourself in awe of all the unrecognizable veggies you saw in the produce section. Asian greens, as it turns out, are pretty darn good for you.
The benefits of leafy greens like bok choy and Chinese cabbage read like a novel: "This food is very low in saturated Fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese."
So where do we begin to break down all the benefits? Well, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 belong to the B vitamins family, which are 8 nutrients that help the body metabolize fat, make sure the nervous system is function properly, and play a role in maintaining a healthy liver, skin, and eyes.
Vitamin A is known for its role in vision, vitamin C helps grow and repair tissues, and vitamin K makes sure blood clots properly. Iron is found in the blood, and an iron deficiency can lead anemia, causing weakness and fatigue. And potassium is crucial to heart and muscle function.
All veggied out? Try an iron supplement.
Herbs and spices
For those who like traditional, old-fashioned things, a tried-and-true herb like parsley has a multitude of health benefits. One cup is high in dietary fiber; vitamins A, C, and K; folate; calcium; iron; magnesium; manganese; potassium; and copper.
But if you want to shake things up, a spice like turmeric might be more your cup of tea. Just one tablespoon is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, and manganese.
And for as much as we rag on millennials for loving their avocado toast, they have popularized health drinks like turmeric lattes for those who would rather sip than chew.
So the next time you roll up to the grocery store (possibly with kids in tow), you'll be able to follow this short-but-simple list and get out of there faster than it took you to finish this article.
If you don't want the added fuss you can go straight to the source with a turmeric supplement.