20 of the healthiest foods

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1. Almonds

Almonds are not only tasty, but nutritious too: one ounce of almonds contains about 15% of an adult’s recommended daily intake for vitamin E, and at least 20% for magnesium and manganese. They’re also a good source of riboflavin, calcium and copper. Because they contain antioxidants that guard against heart disease and cancer, almonds are often described as “superfoods.”

2. Avocados

Avocados are well known for their high fat content, but the type of fat they contain is actually healthy monounsaturated fat which has been associated with lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). One study showed that an avocado-rich diet helped the participants lose weight, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. The fruit also contains fiber as well as potassium, and recent research suggests that it can increase blood levels of glutathione (a powerful antioxidant).

3. Apples

A medium apple has about 100 calories, and is an excellent source of dietary fiber, especially if you eat the peel. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a chemical in apples, known as ursolic acid, may increase endurance and muscle strength during exercise. Eating an apple before a workout can also help you burn more fat during exercise.

4. Oranges

Oranges are high in vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber. They also contain a compound called hesperetin, which may be effective in slowing or preventing hardening of the arteries.

5. Carrots

Carrots are full of vitamin A as well as other nutrients like potassium, calcium and fiber. They’re also low in calories: one large carrot has just 35 calories, and is fat free. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating carrots can help improve your eyesight, especially if you’re over 40.

6. Bananas

Bananas contain large amounts of potassium, an important mineral for heart health. They also contain prebiotic fiber, which promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut, helps regulate bowel movements and has even been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

7. Pineapples

Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s used by athletes to reduce pain from exercise, as well as by people suffering from arthritis or bruising after surgery. Some research suggests that bromelain may also be effective as a cancer treatment.

8. Watermelon

Watermelon is 92% water, but despite this it contains large amounts of the amino acid arginine and citrulline, which can help relax blood vessels, improving blood flow. It’s believed that this might benefit athletes during exercise, preventing muscle damage and enhancing recovery.

9. Papayas

Papayas contain papain, another digestive enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties. It has been suggested that eating papaya daily may be an effective way to prevent inflammation in the body, especially in the stomach and intestines.

10. Ginger

Ginger is a natural antihistamine, which may be effective in treating allergies. It’s also been traditionally used to ease nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness in pregnant women. In addition, ginger has been suggested as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis, helping reduce joint pain and stiffness.

11. Peanuts

Peanuts are rich in protein and monounsaturated fat, the “good” kind. They also contain some fiber and various B vitamins. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat nuts are less likely to be obese.

12. Rye Bread

Rye is a whole grain, unlike refined grains like most white bread. Whole grains contain more fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Rye bread also contains a type of fiber called resistant starch, which has been associated with lower blood sugar levels after eating, as well as reduced appetite and weight loss.

13. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in various nutrients like beta-carotene, fiber and potassium. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that sweet potatoes are especially good at reducing inflammation, which may benefit heart health and blood sugar regulation.

14. Grapefruit

Grapefruits contain a compound called naringenin, which has been associated with reduced risk of breast cancer as well as lower blood pressure. Research also suggests that grapefruit can be effective for weight loss, especially when combined with daily exercise.

15. Asparagus

Asparagus is high in vitamins K and B6, fiber and the amino acid asparagine. Eating it may also help prevent cancer due to a compound called diindolylmethane, which is released when you chew asparagus. Diindolylmethane has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as anticancer activity.

16. Tofu

Tofu is made from soybeans, and can be processed in various ways. It’s notable for being a good source of high-quality plant protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Tofu also contains isoflavones, which are compounds with weak estrogenic activity that may help reduce menopausal symptoms and protect against breast cancer.

17. Cantaloupe

Cantaloupes are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium. Research has found that eating cantaloupe every day may help prevent future heart attacks, due to the activity of various compounds in it.

18. Asparagus

Asparagus is high in vitamins K and B6, fiber and the amino acid asparagine. Eating it may also help prevent cancer due to a compound called diindolylmethane, which is released when you chew asparagus. Diindolylmethane has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as anticancer activity.

19. Carrots

Carrots are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which may benefit eye health. Carrots may also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

20. Walnuts

Walnuts are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fats in addition to various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating walnuts regularly has been associated with reduced inflammation, which may have benefits for heart health as well as skin health.