9 Simple Foods You Must Have in Your DietArticle posted in: Nutrition
As the holidays approach, our cravings and poor eating habits often increase. In order to stay on track, keep your health intact and reap the numerous benefits of delicious, healthy and simple foods, we have created a list of foods you need to incorporate into your diet ASAP. Not only are these simple foods packed with vitamins and nutrients, they are all extremely versatile as well.
Add some mixed nuts to mixed greens for a delicious salad, or broil some salmon for a holiday get together. Each and every one of these simple foods is sure to keep you on the South Beach Diet track, satisfy those cravings and most importantly, provide you with countless health benefits along the way.
Here are nine simple foods that you need to incorporate into your diet:
Not only are nuts tasty and the quintessential on-the-go snack, they’re also protein powerhouses! Most nuts, especially walnuts, are also incredibly heart healthy and can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol because they’re rich in monounsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Remember to choose raw or dry-roasted nuts without added sugars, and to watch your portions because as much as 80 percent of a nut is fat, which adds up to a lot of calories. On South Beach Diet, nuts count as Healthy Fats. A serving is one ounce or about ¼ cup.
2. Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, watercress, swiss chard— Whether you add these veggies to your morning smoothie, or you enjoy them in a fresh salad, the most important thing is to eat up! Adults should enjoy two to three cups of leafy greens a day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and we agree here at South Beach Diet. A cup of leafy greens counts as one (of five) servings of veggies we recommend you eat daily. If you eat two or three cups, you’re halfway to meeting your requirement. Leafy greens deliver very few carbs, are very low in calories and are completely devoid of cholesterol. Leafy greens can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to Harvard Health, and new research suggests they may also support brain health and help prevent some types of cancers.
3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Rich in monounsaturated fat (which helps lower harmful LDL cholesterol), olive oil also seems to deter blood from clotting, says Harvard Health. In addition, a study conducted by Virginia Tech has found that a specific olive-derived compound, oeluropein, helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Look for “extra virgin,” which means the oil was pressed from olives without use of chemicals or preservatives. This ensures the antioxidants olive oil also contains (polyphenols) are preserved. Like nuts, olive oil is one of those simple foods that packs a high caloric punch, so enjoy in moderation. On South Beach Diet, olive oil is a Healthy Fat.
Rich in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, berries are like daily multi-vitamins—without the bad aftertaste. A 2012 American Neurological Association study linked blueberries and strawberries to cognitive sharpness among older adults who ate them regularly. Plus, a 2012 obesity study published in the Journal of Medicine showed blueberries have been found to reduce the development of fat cells. Then, a 2016 article, published in MDPI Journal, suggests berries may be effective in preventing cancer and improving cancer patients’ prognoses. Try blending some fruit with protein powder to shake things up!
Please Note: Berries count towards your daily Extras (Click here for recommended serving sizes! >).
5. Greek Yogurt
The USDA recommendation for dairy products in children, adults and seniors is clear: eat (or drink) two or three servings daily. That’s because a diet rich in protein and Vitamin D—which milk and dairy products amply provide—can build and maintain bone health. Cultured dairy foods like yogurt contain probiotics that promote intestinal health, improve immune health and potentially even sharpen mental health. While Greek and regular yogurt are both good dairy choices, by “going Greek” you’ll get almost double the amount of protein, and often, get less sodium and sugar. Be sure to read the ingredient list to make sure to avoid added sugars and artificial flavors. Full-fat dairy is recommended on the South Beach Diet and the serving size is one cup of yogurt or milk, or one ounce of cheese. Dairy counts towards your Healthy Fat choices.
6. Oily Fish
The next time you go to a seafood restaurant, seek out salmon, trout, herring, or mackerel. Sardines and anchovies are also good choices. These fish have oil in their tissues and gut, and their filets contain up to 30 percent oil, according to Medical News Today. That oil contains omega-3 fatty acid, which benefits the heart, nervous system and helps reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Grill, broil or sauté fish—don’t fry it. One serving of fish is three ounces on the South Beach Diet, and it’s considered a Protein.
7. Beans and Legumes
Every plant we eat has at least a little bit of protein in it, but beans and legumes (meaning a less mature form of beans and peas) have so much protein that the USDA categorizes them in the protein and vegetable sections of its daily food pyramid. Unlike meats, beans, peas and lentils contain no saturated fat. And, because they’re plants, these simple foods have many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need—specifically fiber, folate and potassium. Beans and legumes are considered Good Carbs on the South Beach Diet. One serving of beans and legumes is ½ cup. If you’re following South Beach Diet, make sure that your beans and legumes fit into your daily net carb limit of 50 grams before enjoying.
Avocados are a type of fruit, not a vegetable. And, they also contain more fat than any other fruit. I bet you know where we’re going with this, don’t you? Like olive oil and nuts, avocados contain only monounsaturated fat, which can help raise good cholesterol, lower the bad and help prevent heart disease. The skin of an avocado also protects flesh from residual pesticides, says the American Chemical Society. Just inside the skin (where the flesh is really green) you’ll find 11 carotenoids that may help fight cancer and disease—so be sure to scrape all of that nutritious flesh out of the skin. On the South Beach Diet, avocados are Healthy Fats. A serving is about ½ an avocado.
9. Green Tea
While all types of tea are brewed from leaves on the Camellia sinesis bush, green tea is made from unoxidized leaves and is one of the least processed types of tea available, according to Medical News Today. Therefore, it contains the most antioxidants and polyphenols, which, as we’ve learned, are being studied in their roles to prevent and treat heart disease, high cholesterol, several cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease and more. To benefit from all of green tea’s nutritional benefits, brew it at home. Bottled teas contain fewer polyphenols, according to the American Chemical Society. Unsweetened, brewed green tea is a zero calorie beverage and counts towards your daily fluid requirements on South Beach Diet. Enjoy!