Those who know me well (or are aware I have a child who calls himself the “Nutrients Man”) also know that I am a pretty healthy eater. Most people guess that I’m a vegetarian, but I’m not. In fact, I have four basic principles that guide my own eating habits and those whose I closely influence. These are:

1)      Eat in moderation, unless it’s the week before a marathon

2)      Eat balanced meals (e.g., carbs, protein, fat)

3)      Buy and eat whole, seasonal foods, avoiding Dinonuggets for the little guy whenever humanly possible

4)      Eat in, not out, unless I’m travelling for work or desperately need to be waited upon

All this said, I have been doing research for Knocking Down Walls and upcoming workshops I will lead. I thought I would share some interesting anecdotes you might find helpful in planning and preparing healthy meals.

The Healthiest Foods

In the article, A Recipe for Longevity, The North Carolina Research Campus, a group that consists of scientists from 8 different universities in the Piedmont area (even Duke), developed a list of foods that they deemed the healthiest in the world. I found the list interesting, and so did Luke. The list includes:

  • Blueberries
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Artichokes
  • Pineapples
  • Avocados
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Green Cabbage
  • Kiwi
  • Mushrooms
  • Papayas
  • Pomegranates
  • Raspberries
  • Sweet Potato
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Apple
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Blackberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Kale
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Plums & prunes
  • Pumpkins
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelons

Antioxidants

Ever wonder about all the fuss over antioxidants? Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. In layman’s terms, this means that antioxidants may help prevent diseases like hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer and arthritis. According to WebMD, the following foods have the most antioxidants per serving.

Rank

Food item

Serving size

Total antioxidant capacity
per serving size

1

Small Red Bean (dried)

Half cup

13,727

2

Wild blueberry

1 cup

13,427

3

Red kidney bean (dried)

Half cup

13,259

4

Pinto bean

Half cup

11,864

5

Blueberry (cultivated)

1 cup

9,019

6

Cranberry

1 cup (whole)

8,983

7

Artichoke (cooked)

1 cup (hearts)

7,904

8

Blackberry

1 cup

7,701

9

Prune

Half cup

7,291

10

Raspberry

1 cup

6,058

11

Strawberry

1 cup

5,938

12

Red Delicious apple

1 whole

5,900

13

Granny Smith apple

1 whole

5,381

14

Pecan

1 ounce

5,095

15

Sweet cherry

1 cup

4,873

16

Black plum

1 whole

4,844

17

Russet potato (cooked)

1 whole

4,649

18

Black bean (dried)

Half cup

4,181

19

Plum

1 whole

4,118

20

Gala apple

1 whole

3,903

Source: WebMD Public Information from the United States Department

And according to the experts at Livestrong, you can also get a healthy dose of antioxidants by eating dark chocolate (yippee!) as well as by spicing up your foods with cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, cloves and curry.

Fiber

Fiber appears to have a number of health benefits as well. In addition to helping the digestive tract function properly, according to the Mayo Clinic, a high-fiber diet may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Fruits, vegetables, some whole-grain foods, beans and legumes are all good quality fiber-rich foods.

Macronutrients

To get the most out of a balanced diet, it’s nice to consume rich sources of the three macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Follows is a table that lists some of these:

Carbohydrate-rich foods

Protein-rich foods

Fat-rich foods

Fruits Meats Deep ocean fish (e.g., haddock, cod, Pollack)
Breakfast cereal Poultry Olive oil
Green, leafy vegetables Fish Nut
Pasta Soy Vegetable oil
Rice Nuts Milk and cheese

Source: Performance Nutrition for Runners.

Happy eating!

About the author

Melinda is a marketer, researcher and writer. She also has a passion for healthy living, every day.

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