Nutritional Foods

Nutritional foods are full of life-giving nutrients

There is a popular book out, in which the author maintains that we have it all wrong when we approach eating healthy based on nutrition. Nutrients! Who needs them? The answer is, we do!! What we need to know about these important substances is probably debatable, but whoever says, “ignorance is bliss,” when it comes to nutrition, will probably spend a lot of time not feeling well.

Nutritional foods - Categories

There are six nutrition categories that we need to consider when looking at a healthy lifestyle. Each of these categories has a unique and important role to play in your total health.

Protein..., Carbohydrates..., Fats..., Vitamins..., Minerals..., Water...

Fiber could be listed.

There is one important dietary substance that is not usually listed in nutritional foods guides as a separate nutrient, but in recent years, it has taken on the same importance, in its own right, as the other nutrients. That substance is Fiber.

With the change in the food supply, to more processed food, the need for a sufficient amount of fiber in the diet has become a critical issue. A lack of fiber in the diet has been associated with a rise in colon cancer and other digestive disorders.

Eat a variety of nutritional foods.

It is important that you eat a variety of foods so that it is more likely that all of these nutrition categories will be represented. If you eat the same food day after day, you may be missing out on essential nutrients. It is also important to remember that one nutrition category is not more necessary than another, since they all work together to keep you healthy.

Try something new in the realm of nutritional foods.

Most of us know about all the fruits, vegetables, lean meats and dairy products that help make our diet healthy. However there are other foods that you can enjoy as part of your healthy lifestyle.

Nutritional Foods - Fruits and Vegetables

There are large variety of fruits and vegetables that you can include in your healthy diet. Each provides vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients that you need to be healthy. Which ones you choose, will depend on where you live, what season it is, your budget and your preference.  It is recommended that you include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet each day.

Here are some of the fruits and vegetables you may choose from:

Apples, Asparagus, Avocado, Bananas, Bell Peppers, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cherries, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Grapefruit, Grapes, Kale, Kiwi, Lettuce (all varieties), Mango, Melon, Mushrooms, Onions, Oranges, Papaya, Peaches, Peas, Pineapples, Plums, Potatoes, Raspberries, Spinach, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes

 “Phytos” will fight for you

Although not all health experts seem to agree on which foods, if any, reach the status of “super foods", most will say that vividly colored fruits and vegetables, along with several nuts, seeds, spices and herbs could fall into this category. Most of these foods contain a category of substances called phytonutrients, which appear to have a protective effect on your health.

Nutritional foods - Nuts and Seeds

Seeds and nuts are popular foods in many diets, often as snacks, but in most vegetarian eating plans, they are staples. These nutrient-dense powerhouses provide protein, fiber, healthy fats, enzymes and a number of vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten whole, in “butters” or used to replace meat in many recipes. Nut creams and nut milks can be used to make sauces or in smoothies.

Caveat for Nutritional Foods: Nuts can be allergens for some people. Allergic reactions to nuts can vary greatly from minor to life threatening. For this reason, food companies are required to note on the label if their product may have come in contact with any nuts during processing.

Here are some varieties of seeds and nuts that can form part of a healthy diet:

Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Chia Seeds, Coconut, Flax Seed, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pistachio, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds and Walnuts

Nutritional Foods - Grains

Most food experts would say that the western diet is a "grain-based" diet, since we rely heavily on grains and their by-products in the foods we eat. While this is true with regard to wheat, corn, and possibly oats, there are several, less popular grains that can form part of a healthy diet.

Here is a list of some of the grains that can form part of a healthy diet:

Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Rye, Spelt, Teff, Triticale, Wheat and Wild Rice

Nutritional Foods - Protein

Generally, when we discuss protein in the diet, we are talking about meat, eggs and dairy products. Another way of saying this is that most, but not all, of the protein in your meals comes from the main course. I suggest that you avoid processed meats such as bacon, sausage, ham, hot dogs and luncheon meat, and eat smaller portions of other meats, since a little goes a long way toward meeting your protein requirements. If you can, choose meat from grass-fed or free-range animals for a healthier product.

Steak… Hamburger… Roast Beef… Pork chops… Lamb chops… Chicken… Turkey… Duck… Capon… Fish… Shrimp… Lobster… Crab… Scallops… Venison…

Eggs and dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt are also good sources of protein. I suggest that you buy organic versions, if possible, for better taste and fewer toxic additives.

In addition, there are some plant foods that are significant sources of healthy eating protein. These are the legumes, grains, some vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Nutritional Foods - Beans, Peas and Lentils (Legumes)

Legumes, otherwise known as beans, peas and lentils, are often overlooked in meal planning. However, legumes are an inexpensive way to add variety and nutrition to your diet. They are loaded with nutrients in the form of protein, vitamins and minerals, while being low in fat and high in fiber. Doesn't this sound like the description of the perfect healthy food?

Click here for tips on how to cook beans to make them more digestible.


Here are some varieties of legumes that can form part of a healthy diet:

Adzuki beans, Black beans, Black-eyed peas, Butter beans, Cannellini beans, Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), Fava beans, Flageolet beans, Haricot (also known as white, navy or Great Northern) beans, Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Mung beans, Peanuts, Pinto beans, Soy beans and Split Peas.

Super foods - New term for special foods

There is a relatively new and increasingly popular term being used in the food vernacular. We had “foods"; then we had “healthy foods"; and now we have “super foods.” The question is what exactly makes a food “super"?

What are we eating?

It is important to say here that if we were all eating lots of fresh, whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding many of the edible non-foods found on grocery store shelves and at fast food restaurants, the issue of super foods would probably not be as important. Having said that, it does appear that even within the realm of healthy foods, there is a special category of foods that have extra special properties that qualify them for super status.

Two categories

There are two types of foods that are often given super food status. One category is made up of foods that are generally easy to find in grocery stores, in restaurants and even in your own backyard garden. These are the foods you would probably recognize as part of an ordinary healthy diet.

Some examples of super foods in this category are:

Avocados, Blueberries, Broccoli, Beets, Cayenne pepper, Chia SeedCinnamon, Coconut and Coconut oil, Dark chocolate, Flaxseed, Garlic, Ginger, Green tea, Pomegranates, Turmeric, Walnuts and Wild Salmon

More exotic superfoods

Then there is another category of super foods that are more exotic and less easily obtainable, except through specialty websites or health food stores. These are foods that either are not commonly produced, or that only grow in very specific parts of the world. These include:

Acai, Goji berries, Mangosteen and Noni juice

Caveat: Just because a food has been designated, as “super” does not mean that you should consume large amounts. If you decide to include any of these foods in your diet, eat them in moderation, as you would any food. In addition, if you are taking any medications, be sure to consult with your pharmacist or doctor regarding interactions.

Although most health experts would agree that you can be perfectly healthy without eating any of these super foods, it certainly can’t hurt to include some of them in your diet. Adding a bit of turmeric to your soups or some blueberries to your breakfast cereal can only improve your ability to be healthy and stay well.

The opposite of "super"

I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are also foods that are the opposite of nutritional foods. These are what are commonly called "empty calories."

As a rule, empty calories are deficient in nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals. Another way of saying this is that when a food’s caloric value far outweighs its nutrient value, it is not the best choice for a healthy diet.

Click here to learn more about empty calorie foods.

No reason not to eat healthy

After reading this page, you should be able to see all the possibilities for choosing nutritional foods for a healthy diet.  With all these choices, you really have no excuse for not eating healthy.  If you can retrain your palate to enjoy real, whole foods, you will go a long way towards feeling well and living long!

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