America's preoccupation with food is evolving from what tastes good to what is healthy. Younger consumers, especially, are being more careful about what they put into their bodies.
With a new study being conducted seemingly every day, however, it's hard to keep up with what's healthy and what's not. Sometimes, the studies contradict one another.
That's prompted nutritionists at the Texas A&M Health Science Center to cut through the clutter and get back to basics. They offer up 10 foods that should be a regular part of your diet.
Nuts have fat, but not the bad kind. And a handful of almonds every once in a while is a tasty way to add an antioxidant to your daily diet. Alyssa Burns, a researcher at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says almonds are a good source of plant protein -- essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and magnesium.
Eat almonds on a consistent basis and you can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
You know what they say about an apple a day. It might be something of an exaggeration, but the truth is, apples do provide a good source of dietary fiber.
There is some evidence that compounds from apples can slow down the aging process and might even reduce the risk of stroke.
The A&M team says avocados can be a healthy source of fat – the good kind that lowers cholesterol and reduces heart disease risk. That makes the creamy, green fruit a good substitute of other kinds of fat in your diet.
Chances are that beans are already a part of your diet. If not, they are easy to add. Mankind has been serving up some type of bean for the last 10,000 years.
They provide protein fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. The A&M scientists recommend eating half a cup each day to take advantage of their nutrients.
Blueberries may be a tiny fruit, but they pack a powerful antioxidant punch. The A&M team points to studies that have shown that the anthocyanins in blueberries are effective in reducing chronic inflammation.
A 2013 study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week could help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as one-third.
As a bonus, blueberry consumption can help with erectile dysfunction in men and short-term memory in children and elderly.
Former President George H.W. Bush once famously said he hated broccoli, but the A&M team says it should be on your menu from time to time. Among its health benefits – it's loaded with vitamin C and folic acid, and is a good source of fiber and potassium.
Studies have also shown that a compound in the plant can reduce inflammation associated with heart disease.
Cranberries should be served all year round, not just on the holidays. This fruit has active ingredients known for treating urinary tract infections. Doctors also recommend them for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease and various types of cancer.
Take your pick – spinach, kale, turnips, and cabbage – a leafy green will add vitamins C, K and E, folate, carotenoids, and fiber to your diet.
The USDA recommends adults eat three to four cups of leafy greens every week.
Fish can provide something you need in your diet – omega-3 fatty acids. This substance can do a lot of good things, including lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sweet potatoes have high nutritional value, providing a lot of the vitamins and minerals you need. As a bonus, nutrients found in the potato are thought to be effective weapons against cancer, diabetes, and inflammation.