Weekly column in the Washington Times Communities by Laurie Edwards-Tate

Are you still sticking with your New Year’s resolution? You have almost made it through the first month. Congratulations! Scientific studies show that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. If you got started on New Year’s Day, you should have some healthy new habits in place.  This is something to be proud of.

If you did not make a New Year’s resolution about your health or diet, you can still make good choices to improve your eating habits by choosing more of the foods loaded with healthful nutrients including anti-oxidants, fiber, and protein, with less fats, sugars, and sodium.

So many healthy food lists seem unrealistic to me. They have exotic grains and fruits and vegetables that are not on the shelves at the average American supermarket. Who has time to go to a half-dozen stores for exotic specialty products?

In some cases, healthy foods seem more like prescriptions, not pleasurable eating experiences. No one would stick with them as part of their diet except for the most extreme and disciplined person which is also unrealistic.

This is a list of ten foods you should have no trouble finding which are also delicious and easy to prepare that appear on the lists from numerous nutrition experts.

The Ten Best

  1. Berries – Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, they are all packed with anti-oxidents and provide that bit of sweetness we love without processed sugar. Frozen berries lose a minimum of nutritional punch so there is no excuse not to eat them year-round.
  2. Yogurt – This is not the sweetened, frozen kind, or the fruit on the bottom type loaded up with sugar. Choose unsweetened, low (2%) or non-fat yogurt. If you have not tried Greek style yogurt, you may be pleasantly surprised. Add a touch of cinnamon, honey and nuts.
  3. Sweet potatoes –  Packed with Vitamins A, C, and loaded with fiber if you eat the skin. Eat them in soup, salad, casseroles, or pureed. If you need a little indulgence, cut them into fries, dust with seasonings and a light touch of olive oil and bake them for healthy but indulgent fries. Avoid Grandma’s version loaded with syrup, brown sugar and marshmallows.
  4. Salmon – Salmon is rich in cancer-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, which also prevent heart disease and have been linked to a reduced risk of depression. A serving also contains niacin, which is thought to protect you against Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Go for wild salmon to maximize the benefits.
  5. Garbanzo Beans – These beans are packed with iron, trace minerals, protein and fiber. You can hardly do better! One serving has more than 30% of the protein and almost 50% of the fiber you need daily. Add a good fat such as olive oil to help fully digest the protein. Hummus on vegetables or crispbread is a great choice that feels indulgent.
  6. Broccoli – Jam packed with cancer fighting agents, vitamin C, and fiber. Microwave it in a covered bowl with a little water, and drizzle with lemon or flavored vinegar.
  7. Nuts – Full of omega-3s, almost as much as salmon, plus antioxidants. Walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts are good choices. Avoid overly salted nuts, and watch out for overdoing it as you can end up eating a lot of calories. Use them on top of other dishes as a garnish or eat a handful as a snack.
  8. Green tea –  Researchers keep learning more about green tea’s potential to fight cancer and heart disease, lower cholesterol, burn fat, prevent diabetes and strokes and protect against dementia. Green tea drinkers have lower blood pressure. Drinking green tea instead of sugary drinks or coffee loaded with cream can aid weight loss. Drink it hot or cold, and as much as you like.
  9. Barley – Barley is a low-glycemic grain (meaning it does not spike blood sugar). It is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of colon cancer. It helps the body metabolize fats and other carbohydrates. It is also tasty and readily available. Use it as a delicious breakfast cereal, in soups and stews and as a rice substitute.
  10. Spinach – Popeye was right. Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods that exists, packed with antioxidants, fiber, calcium, protein, folate and iron – and a cup is only 40 calories!  It helps prevent cancer, improves brain function and memory, strengths your cardiovascular system, and protects you against aging. Talk about motivating! Add it to smoothies, soups, put it on sandwiches, sneak it in wherever you can.  

It is unrealistic to expect anyone to radically change their diet by eating all ten of these foods at once. Consider trying to add servings of two per week while continuing to cut back on unhealthy foods in your diet.

Look up appealing recipes in publications such as Prevention Magazine. You may find some new favorites and you can feel great about your positive health changes!

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

LifeCycles is intended to provide inspiration and information only. If you are considering any health, dietary, exercise or lifestyle changes based on the information provided here, please seek advice from a qualified professional.
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is President and CEO of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California. In addition to her positions as entrepreneur, health care executive, educator, radio segment contributor and media guest, Edwards-Tate is also a wife, daughter, and dog lover. Read more  LifeCycles in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter @AYHFamilycare.
Please credit “Laurie Edwards-Tate for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com”when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2012 by At Your Home Familycare

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