Do you wonder what Naturopaths or health conscious people have in their pantry or fridge? There are plenty of foods termed as “healthy” or “superfoods” out there, but what are some of the foods that we should be consuming on a daily basis? As a Naturopath, I believe in choosing foods that are nutrient-dense. The 7 best foods for good health contain high amounts of beneficial vitamins and nutrients that we need on a daily basis to be healthy. It’s about the quality of our foods over quantity of foods.
Similarly, when we choose to lose weight, we should go through a process of choosing nutrient-dense foods that help create a feeling of satiety. Over time, this means we will have fewer cravings for processed foods, like sugary, fried, or overly salty foods, which means drastic changes in our overall well-being. Below are the seven foods that I, as a naturopath, try to consume on a daily basis due to the high benefits that they have on our health. These foods are also affordable for every budget and most of them may already be lying somewhere in your kitchen.
7 Best Foods For Good Health According To Naturopathy
Don’t we all love avocados? But what’s really in an avocado? And how much do you need per day to get the most benefits out of it. Avocados are the fruit that comes from a tree called Persea Americana. They are also called an alligator pear and butter fruit. Indeed, avocados can be a great substitute for regular butters due to its creaminess. What’s more to an avocado than just its delicious creamy taste?
• Healthy fats
The fats in avocados are highly beneficial, especially when you compare it to regular butter. Avocados contain healthy unsaturated fats called HDL, and are low in saturated fats, called LDL. It contains no cholesterol or sodium. We need healthy fats for our cognitive function, reproductive health (fertility), hormone production, heart health, and keeping our skin looking young. The fats in avocados help to keep you feeling satiated for longer periods of time, preventing blood sugar imbalances.
• Vitamin K
Avocados are also very high in vitamin K. One serving contains about 26 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a huge role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating our blood calcium levels. Additionally, it contributes to the health of our cognitive functions and heart.
• Rich in antioxidants
Lutein and zeaxanthin are phytochemicals, the anti-oxidants which prevent damage to our cells that can result with aging. These phytochemicals are beneficial for our eyes.
• It’s high in fibre
Fibre is necessary for regular bowel motion. With the high content of good fats combined with fiber, avocados help to give moisture to our digestive tract, allowing for easier elimination. A single serving of avocado can provide more than 40 percent of the daily requirements of dietary fibre.
You only need half of an avocado daily to get the benefits. Add avocado to your wholegrain toast with eggs on the side for breakfast, or on top of your salads for long lasting satiety.
2. Chia seeds
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia Hispanica and is native to Mexico. The Mayan cultures have been using chia seeds for centuries as an energy booster. These seeds definitely qualify as one of the top 7 foods for good health. In fact, only about two tablespoons of chia seeds are needed per day. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 11g of fibre, 4g of protein, 7g of unsaturated fats, as well as nutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
• Chia seeds can promote regular bowel motions due to its demulcent properties. Constipation often results from dryness within the mucous membrane in our intestines. When you soak chia seeds in milk or water for a few hours, you’ll notice that it starts to develop a gel-like consistency. Upon ingestion, soaked chia seeds will help coat and give moisture to the mucous membranes in our stomach. Coupled with its high fiber content, it allows for easier, regular bowel motions.
• Omega-3’s are found in chia seeds, making them a great alternative source for vegans and vegetarians.
Chia seeds are easy to make. Because they have a high omega-3 and protein content, I always recommend my clients make chia seed pudding or overnight oats with chia seeds for breakfast or a snack. Other benefits of chia seeds include promoting weight loss, heart health, and bone strength. All-in-one, may I say?
3. Bitter dark leafy greens
Bitter dark leafy greens should always be considered as one of the 7 best foods for good health. They are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. This includes greens such as kale, collards, spinach, dandelion greens, swiss chard, bok choy, and rockets. They also have vast amounts of benefits.
• They help to promote detoxification of the liver and intestines because of their bitter taste. Foods with a bitter taste have a cooling effect on the body, therefore reducing inflammation associated with heat.
• Greens help oxygenate our cells. Its high chlorophyll content creates extra red blood cells, which gives the body more oxygen.
• They are high in nutrients such as folate, vitamin K, beta-carotene, and lutein. These antioxidants reduce the effects of cellular damage and aging. Additionally, they have a brain-protective benefit. Other vitamins and nutrients they contain include vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and potassium. This benefits the overall body systems, including heart health, the eyes, immune system, and good gut bacteria.
Aim for at least two cups of dark leafy green vegetables daily. I like to recommend my clients make a pesto sauce with leafy green vegetables, as it is a good alternative on those busy days when we forget to eat our greens. Pesto can be easily added on pasta as a sauce, or used as a dressing or sauce with our main meal.
If you come from Eastern or Asian culture, you know that spices are a big part of cooking. While technically not a food in themselves, spices are important to include on this list of the 7 best things to consume for good health. Spices have a ton of benefits that can easily be incorporated into your diet, and are a great alternative to flavouring your foods without additional sodium or preservatives. So, what are some of the spices you should add to your foods daily?
Turmeric is a famous anti-inflammatory spice. Indeed, it can help reduce inflammation within the body and enhance the liver detoxification pathway. Additionally, it has brain protective properties (fights Alzheimer’s), reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer, and alleviates arthritis. The benefits of turmeric are increased by combining it with black pepper. The spices should be consumed together in some form of fat, such as coconut oil or coconut milk, that can be added in curries or golden milk. One additional note: turmeric is considered a drying and warming spice, so it is not indicated for a person with a hot constitution. Adding cinnamon or licorice (moistening spices) together with turmeric will help to balance the drying effects of the herb.
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde which is responsible for its medicinal properties. It is famously known for regulating or reducing blood sugar levels by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates upon ingestion in the digestive tract, therefore improving insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon is also gently warming and moistening, which is a great spice for those suffering with constipation. Add two teaspoons of cinnamon to your oats, chia seed pudding, or drinks.
Also called tulsi in India, basil is one of the top immune-boosting herbs. It enhances and uplifts the mood, and alleviates stress. The warming and pungent properties help to warm up the digestive system, promote circulation, and dispel coldness and dampness within the body. This makes it effective for treating symptoms of fever, colds, and flus. Use basil to make a tea infusion, pesto sauce, or simply add freshly chopped basil to your meals.
Rosemary is a potent antioxidant. It improves circulation to the brain and body. Rosemary contains rosmarinic acid, which has anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce allergy symptoms and swollen sinuses. It also has a liver protective effect. Try adding rosemary to your roasted vegetables and pasta.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, but also delicious, root vegetables. I love sweet potatoes, as they have many benefits, and can be easily included in our daily meals. So, let’s break down the benefits of this creamy root vegetable.
• They contain a high amount of vitamin A. Vitamin A benefits our skin, eyes, hair, and immune system
• Regulates our blood sugar levels. Although naturally sweet, they are low on the glycaemic index. This means that they can reduce insulin resistance and low blood sugar levels, while simultaneously balancing high blood sugar levels. The fibre intact in the sweet potatoes allows the body to slowly break down the carbohydrates into sugar. Additionally, it allows for longer satiety and helps alleviate symptoms of constipation. They are also a great snack. Simply roast sweet potatoes with some cinnamon, sea salt, and coconut oil.
• Improves your mood. Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of magnesium, which helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Legumes are such an underrated protein source when thinking about the top 7 foods for good health. Most people choose not to consume legumes, as they can increase symptoms of wind issues or digestive discomfort. However, these issues are often due to not cooking the legumes correctly. Most legumes contain phytic acid, which is the main cause of wind issues. The correct way to cook them is to soak the legumes for a couple hours or even overnight. Rinse thoroughly after soaking, then cook them with a little bit of apple cider vinegar or kombu. These will further reduce the wind-causing substance in the beans. The benefits of legumes are vast.
• They are full of fibre, and also prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food for your probiotics. Therefore, legumes can promote regular bowel motions, thereby reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
• They are high in protein. Additionally, they are one of the most affordable protein choices.
• They are packed with nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium, benefiting the overall body system.
• Other benefits of legumes include promoting weight loss, bone and skin health, and cognitive function
My favourite legumes include chickpeas, blackbeans, and red lentils. I love making a batch of hummus with chickpeas, tahini, and spices, which can be added to our main meals with vegetables or a snack. You can also make red lentil tortillas. Soak the red lentils overnight; rinse and drain. Blend the soaked red lentils with some clean water. Place a big scoop of the blended red lentils in a pan, and cook to make a protein filled red lentil tortilla.
Eggs are considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth.They are also one of the most versatile and affordable protein sources. They definitely deserve their spot as one of the top 7 foods for good health. I tend to opt for organic eggs. I always ask the seller what kind of foods they are feeding their chickens, as this makes a huge difference to the quality of eggs. So, what’s in an egg?
• One egg has 5g of fat, but this fat is considered good fats (HDL). These fats are required for brain function, hormone production, reproductive health, and more.
• They contain vitamin B, which benefits the nervous system. It also boosts our energy levels.
• They promote healthy hair and nails growth due to their sulphur and high nutritional content.
• The choline in egg yolk is an important nutrient for our brain function.
Make a turmeric omelette for your breakfast or lunch with some freshly chopped basil, add some avocados and fresh dark leafy greens, and maybe a dollop of hummus for the healthiest meal on earth?
It is not so much about the quantity of foods, but the quality of our foods. It is also about choosing foods that are nutrient-dense. I believe the foods I’ve discussed today are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. They are also affordable for people of all budgets and are easy to incorporate into our daily meals. If you include these foods on a daily basis, I have no doubt you’ll be feeling healthier in no time.