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10 healthy foods to always keep in your kitchen

10 healthy foods to always keep in your kitchen

By Kristi Thomas, R.D.

Keeping healthy foods on hand is one of the best strategies for maintaining a healthy diet. Being able to reach for nutritious staples means you’ll always have something to eat; even on those days when you have to whip something together at the last minute. These 10 foods are nutrition powerhouses that are both ideal to include in your diet and easy to keep in your kitchen. Keep them in regular rotation, and you’ll find that eating healthy never tasted so good!

Oats

Soluble fiber appears to be the reason for oats’ cholesterol-lowering effect and their role in heart health. Soluble fiber also slows the digestion of starches, which may help you avoid sharp rises in blood glucose levels following meals. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half your daily grains come from whole grains such as oats.

Blueberries

These small blue orbs have high levels of fiber, B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins.

Flaxseeds

These tiny seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and lignans, a type of phytochemical. These nutrients are being studied for their potential role in cancer prevention, heart health and blood glucose control.

Bell peppers

Red and orange bell peppers are one of the best sources of beta carotene and vitamin C. Peppers also contain vitamin B6 and folic acid. These nutrients appear to assist in reducing high levels of homocysteine, which has been shown to damage blood vessels and is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Spinach

Rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, calcium, fiber, lutein and vitamin E, spinach is a highly nutritious food. Its nutrients may help protect against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, macular degeneration (vision loss) and mental decline due to aging.

Tofu

Soy protein, such as tofu, may help heart health when it is eaten in place of foods higher in saturated fat. Research is also looking at how soy may improve insulin sensitivity, ease menopausal symptoms and maintain bone health.

Salmon

A well-known source of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is prized for its nutrient value. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to benefit heart health. This flaky pink fish is also a good source of selenium, protein, niacin and vitamin B12.

Legumes

Fiber champions, legumes — including lentils, black beans and kidney beans — may help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Legumes also contain folic acid, iron, potassium and saponins, a type of phytochemical that may play a role in cancer prevention.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to provide cardiovascular protection. Including nuts regularly in your diet may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reduce insulin resistance and lower inflammation. Just keep an eye on your portion sizes: because walnuts are full of healthy fats, they are also high in calories.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a rich source of calcium, which is needed to maintain healthy bones. Many types of yogurt also contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can help gut health. Flavored yogurts can be high in added sugar, so opt for plain or Greek yogurt that you can sweeten on your own with honey or fruit.

(Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.)

(c) 2017 Meredith Corporation. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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