While it's important to eat all things in moderation, there are certain foods which, when consumed in small amounts every day, go a long way toward promoting general health. Berries, nuts, beans and sweet potatoes are just some of the nutritious superfoods which help contribute to your well being when consumed regularly.
Berries are one fruit you should consider eating every day. Berries contain high levels of fiber, which is crucial for good digestive health as it eases the passage of food through the digestive tract. Adequate fiber intake can also help promote weight loss by keeping you full longer without the added calories. Berries also contain antioxidants, such as ellagic acid, that may prevent cancer and promote long-term memory and good eyesight as you age. The vitamin C in berries protects the body from free radicals -- unstable molecules -- which can cause a variety of diseases.
The FDA reports eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts daily could reduce the risk of heart disease. A daily handful of nuts -- such as almonds -- packs a substantial amount of protein, healthy unsaturated fat, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin, all of which promote heart health. Unsaturated fats including mono- and polyunsaturated fats help reduce bad cholesterol levels while maintaining good cholesterol levels. Niacin has also been proven to boost good cholesterol levels for increased heart health, while riboflavin reduces blood pressure.
Beans are rich in iron, which is important for transporting oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body. Beans also contain a good deal of fiber, which promotes healthy cholesterol levels by preventing absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. The soluble fiber in beans, lentils and legumes helps keep you feeling full longer, making them a helpful tool for weight loss. These foods are also sources of lean protein, which is especially beneficial to vegetarians who do not get protein from meat sources.
Sweet potatoes are rich in alpha- and beta-carotene. These provitamin compounds are converted by the body into vitamin A, which promotes eye, bone and immune system health. These phytochemicals also target disease-causing free radicals in the body. One sweet potato contains massive amounts of nutritious vitamin A as well as vitamin C and B6, the essential minerals potassium and manganese and pigment-producing carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
- UPI.com: AHA: Almonds good for heart
- All About Vision: Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Eye and Vision Benefits
- JoyBauer.com: Health Benefits of Beans
- UW Health: Digestive Health: Fiber
- MayoClinic.com: Niacin to Boost Your HDL, 'Good,' Cholesterol
- PubMed.gov: Riboflavin Lowers Blood Pressure in Cardiovascular Disease Patients
- MayoClinic.com: Cholesterol: Top Five Foods to Lower Your Numbers
Alissa Fleck is a contributing writer for several community newspapers in New York City. She writes book reviews for an online magazine and hosts a monthly reading series. Fleck has also interned at a literary agency and worked as a university teaching assistant. She holds a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing.