Healthy foods should meet the following criteria
- Should be a good source of fiber,vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
- Should be rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants like vitamins C, E and beta carotene.
- Can poosibly reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
- Should be low in calorie.
- Should be readily available.
Whole grains: Whole grains do not have their bran and germ removed during milling, which makes them excellent sources of fiber. High fiber diet makes the meal feel more filling and makes you stay full for a longer time. Include at least 3 servings of whole grains per day in your diet. They lower the risk of chronic disease like stroke, diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, asthma and colorectal cancer. Some of the common whole grains are barley, brown rice, cracked wheat, millet, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole wheat pasta or crackers.
Fruits: Fruits like apple, apricot, avocado, banana, cherry, figs, mango, watermelon, orange, papaya, pear, pine apple, strawberry etc are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are rich in antioxidants that help prevent free radicals from attacking the body and prevent premature aging and onset of diseases. Having fruits daily reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancers of stomach, colon and bowel. Have at least 5 servings of fruits per day. Fruits also help to strengthen your immune system.
Vegetables: Vegetables such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, soya, spinach, tomatoes etc. have antioxidants, minerals and phytochemicals in the correct combination. They are rich in minerals and B-complex vitamins.Green foods like broccoli, spinach, cabbage are good for the circulatory system. Some phytochemicals found in green vegetables have anti-cancer compounds. Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon contain phytochemicals that reduce free radical damage. They prevent prostate problems and reduce the effect of sun damage on your skin. Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables like oranges, pine apples, papaya are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. White foods like garlic, onion have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties. Purple fruits and vegetables like grapes and brinjal protect against heart disease.
Nuts and Seeds: Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts are a very good source of protein. They are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants like vitamin E, folic acid, copper, magnesium and selenium. They are high in plant sterols and monsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (good fats) which lower the LDL cholesterol (bad fats). Nuts decrease the risk of dementia, gallstones, diabetes, strokes etc. It is advised to have one to two ounces (small handful) of nuts each day. Seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds have hear health benefits.