We’re celebrating National Nutrition Month by providing a list of amazing foods and nutrients, from A to Z, and the wonderful health benefits they provide. If you’re looking for a quick and easy foods list to reference as a way to improve your health and manage weight, pull up your chair with a mug of nettle tea and read on.
A: Almonds. Raw almonds are sweet, crunchy and delicious. They provide healthy fats and fiber and are a great filler between meals. A perfect snack!
B: Beta-Carotene. Also known as the orange antioxidant because it’s found in carrots, orange squash and yams. It’s also in red and yellow foods. Beta-carotene converts into Vitamin A.
C: Cruciferous Vegetables. The definition is ever changing, but includes the “cole” or “caulis” and “cabbage” families, as well as the “mustard” family of greens. Loaded with fiber and nutrients, cruciferous vegetables are full of flavor and a great way to add a major health boost to your diet.
D: Vitamin D3. This essential nutrient occurs naturally in a few foods. It’s up to the body to convert Vitamin D2 to D3 through sun exposure. Twenty minutes in the sun provides as much as 20,000 iu of Vitamin D3. D3 is responsible for bone health and proper hormone production and regulation.
E: Eggs. Can be considered one of nature’s perfect foods. Contains all essential amino acids, plus D and B Vitamins.
F: Flaxseed. Rich in fiber, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, flaxseed helps regulate cholesterol, digestive health and helps you feel full and satiated when added to meals.
G: Grapefruit. This refreshingly delicious citrus fruit packs a punch of Vitamin C and fiber, and can help regulate blood sugar and possibly boost metabolism.
H: Honey. Nature’s sweetener has potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and is a superb alternative to foods sweetened with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
I: Ice Water. The body is made up of 70% water! Staying hydrated increases sports performance, helps the body flush out toxins, maintains energy and assists with appetite control.
J: Jalapeno Pepper. Hot peppers contain capsaicin which can help boost metabolism. They’re also a delicious way to add flavor to your favorite dishes with minimal calories.
K: Kefir. This fermented milk drink is similar to yogurt and comes from milk that’s been cultured using kefir “grains.” It contains more potent and more variety of probiotics than yogurt.
L: Lentils. A vegan alternative that provides a “meaty” texture to foods, as well as protein and filling fiber.
M: Melons. From honeydew to cantaloupe, melons provide a delicious sweet treat with minimal calories and maximum health benefits. Low on the glycemic index, melons are a great summertime treat and can be frozen as part of homemade FroYo or “popsicles”, or made into a seasonal fruit salad.
N: Nettle Tea. This green leafy vegetable boasts potent numbers of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, and can help alleviate pain, allergies and inflammation.
O: Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omega 3s are so popular because the standard American diet is already plentiful in Omegas 6 and 9. 3 can help with fighting inflammation, boosting immune system, joint and bone health, cognitive function, and more. The richest sources are fish oil, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, fatty fish and soybeans.
P: Pine Nuts. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) like those found in pine nuts have been linked to appetite suppression. They help boost energy, reduce risk of heart disease, and are a rich source of magnesium, which is necessary to absorb calcium.
Q: Quinoa. This protein-rich grain has emerged as a dietary staple and nutrient powerhouse over the last few years. Quinoa is high in phytonutrients to fight inflammation and is a great alternative to rice or pasta. It’s quick and convenient to cook, making meal prep easier for busy families.
R: Raspberries. If you commonly go for blueberries in your yogurt or smoothie, try raspberries instead. 1 cup provides over half your daily Vitamin C, along with manganese and fiber.
S: Sesame Seeds. Many health conscious individuals include nuts in their diets, but seeds are not as common. Sesame seeds are a great addition to stir fry, meat or vegetable dishes. These little seeds are rich in B vitamins and minerals copper, manganese, calcium, iron, zinc and fiber.
T: Tryptophan. You might know this amino acid as the ingredient in turkey that makes you sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal! But, did you know tryptophan is a known sleep aid, helps reduce anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, ADHD, and can improve athletic performance? Rich sources include tofu, cheese, red meats and poultry.
U: “Unsweetened” Foods. Some of your favorite treats, such as trail mix, dried cranberries, jams and jellies, and even things like yogurt and pickles, often contain hidden added sugars. Look for foods in their natural state, which are most often labeled as “unsweetened.” That gives you the option to sweeten them yourself with sugar-free and natural alternatives.
V: Vinegar (Apple Cider). This tasty addition to salad dressings and dishes can help block the absorption of some starches. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is rich in probiotics and supports immune function health. Also a popular homeopathic remedy for acid reflux!
W: Walnuts. Another alternative to the ever popular almond is the walnut. This rich, creamy nut is great as a stand-alone snack or as an addition to salads or stir fry. They are loaded in omega-3 fatty acids and can help with heart and circulatory health.
X: Wild Card! We’re choosing probiotics for this year’s National Nutrition Month “X”. Beneficial bacteria are so important that they must be mentioned in this list. Sadly, food produced today contains negligible amounts of probiotics. Certain brands sell naturally fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and pickles. Kefir contains more probiotics than commercial yogurt. A good probiotic supplement contains at least 6 strains of bacteria from at least 4 bacterium groups.
Y: Yams. While yams and sweet potatoes are different vegetables, the words are commonly interchanged. Sweet potatoes available in America are a great source of energy through complex carbohydrates. They are lower glycemic than white or red potatoes and offer a rich, smooth flavor and texture, as well as antioxidants and fiber.
Z: Zinc. This essential trace element is necessary for health in trace amounts. It is extremely important for those who regularly participate in rigorous sports activities and exercise. Zinc boosts the immune system and can treat and prevent common colds and respiratory illness. Meat, seafood, dairy, nuts and legumes are good sources of zinc.