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10 Nutrient-Rich Foods for a Healthy Diet

Everybody loves junk food. At night, it’s easy to snack on cookies or crack open a bag of chips. Yet these foods tend to be processed, high in calories and low in nutrients. They also contain added sugars, salts and fats. It’s OK to indulge every once in a while, but a consistently poor diet can lead to obesity, heart disease, depression, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and much more. 

Don’t let junk food bring you down. Instead, jumpstart your healthy eating habits with these 10 nutrient-rich foods.

1. Blueberries

Not only is this fruit low in calories and high in flavor, but experts also say it enhances short-term memory and motor coordination. Blueberries can also modulate signaling pathways in the brain — the ones involved in inflammation, cell survival, neurotransmission and neuroplasticity. 

2. Garlic

Toss garlic in pasta, slather it on chicken, sprinkle it atop salad and much more. In one 12-week study, this relative of the onion reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to a placebo. Plus, of those who got sick, the length of symptoms was reduced by 70%.

3. Eggs

If you want to start your morning the right way, whip up some eggs. This food offers tons of healthy nutrients, including biotin, a vitamin that helps your body convert meals into usable energy. Eggs also contain protein, vitamin A — essential for the immune system — choline and zeaxanthin. 

4. Kale

You can add this veggie to your diet in many ways — steam it, roast it, add it to a stir fry or munch on it raw. Kale is full of nutrients, including calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and vitamins A, K, B6 and C. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, it may reduce the risk of various types of cancer. 

5. Cheese

Cheese, along with other dairy products, helps your mouth produce saliva. It’s also packed with calcium, which restores minerals in your teeth that other foods, like soda, may have caused you to lose. The next time you make a lunchtime sandwich, be sure to add some cheddar or provolone. 

6. Shellfish

Shellfish — which include scallops, oysters, clams, lobster, crab and more — is an excellent source of lean protein. These foods contain essential amino acids your body can’t make on its own, ones that support cell function and muscle health. They’re also a rich source of zinc, a mineral vital to immune function and wound healing.

7. Almonds

Almonds make an excellent snack that you can eat raw, toasted or tossed onto savory dishes. According to a two-week study, this seed — commonly mistaken as a nut — can increase vitamin E in plasma and red blood cells. It also lowers cholesterol levels. 

8. Salmon

If it’s a warm, sunny day, why not enjoy a light meal of salmon and roasted veggies? This fish is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia and some types of cancer. It’s also an excellent source of protein, vitamins B12 and D, potassium and iron.

9. Sweet Potatoes

This starchy tuber offers one-third of your daily value of manganese, a mineral that aids collagen production and promotes skin and bone health. It also contains vitamins A and C, which function as antioxidants and protect against aging and disease. To maximize your nutrient intake, opt for purple sweet potatoes.

10. Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed native to Peru that you can use as a substitute for rice. It offers a healthy dose of protein, fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and much more. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can decrease the risk of arthritis, asthma and Crohn’s disease. 

Add These 10 Foods to Your Diet Today

The next time you want to pick up a bag of chips, opt for some of the nutrient-rich foods above instead. From blueberries to quinoa, you can increase your intake of necessary vitamins and minerals and enhance your health.