12 Healthy Foods That Are More Nutritious Than You Realize
These foods often get a bad rap, even though they are actually seriously healthy! Find out why they deserve a place in your diet.
Have you ever wondered if bananas actually make you gain weight? What about if eating eggs is good or bad for heart health? Below you will find 12 foods that either have a bad reputation in the nutrition sphere or simply don't get the attention they deserve as an everyday superfood.
The health benefits of asparagus aren't as widely known as say, kale or broccoli, but this green veggie has a whole lot to offer. Asparagus has a pretty impressive nutrition profile, and it is packed with fiber, folate and Vitamins A, C and K. It's even a sneaky source of protein, packing 4 grams per cup.
Besides being a great way to get a nutrient boost, asparagus also serves some other important purposes. It is a natural diuretic, and helps naturally "detox" the body of excess fluids and salts. Asparagus is also loaded with antioxidants to help slow down aging, prevent inflammation and fight off cancer. Add this crunchy veggie to your dinner table this night with our easy Slow-Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Asparagus & Peas or serve it as a side in our tasty Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Bread Crumbs.
It's commonly held that bananas make you fat, since they are higher in sugar than most other fruits. Luckily for you banana lovers out there, that is far from the truth. Bananas actually help reduce bloating, as they are loaded with potassium to help balance out sodium and prevent water retention. Their high fiber content also helps beat bloat by moving things along in your digestive system-and 'nanas are even thought to benefit gut health!
Bananas are also a good source of both Vitamin B6 and tryptophan, which help reduce stress. Vitamin B6 helps to synthesize serotonin-our "feel-good" hormone-and keeps our immune system protected from intruders. It has even shown to be an anti-inflammatory agent! We love using bananas for baked goods like Banana-Bran Muffins, and our Vegan Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites make a perfect healthy indulgence you can enjoy every day.
There's a lot of debate over whether corn is healthy for you or nutritionally worthless, and people have strong feelings about this starchy vegetable. While we will admit corn isn't as nutritionally dense as some of our favorite green veggies, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be part of a healthy diet!
While corn does have a high Vitamin A and B6 count, the most impressive health benefits come from its antioxidant compounds. Corn is packed with a wide variety of antioxidants, as well as fiber, protecting us from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and poor digestive health. Nothing beats classic Garlic Butter Campfire Corn in the summer, and corn adds color, texture and flavor in one of our favorite risotto recipes.
2019 has brought the "great egg debate" back into the nutrition sphere, as several recent studies have produced opposing evidence on whether or not eggs are healthy for us. Two registered dietitians set the record straight for us a few months ago, explaining that while eggs do contain dietary cholesterol, it is vastly different from the type of "bad" cholesterol our bodies make.
They said dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are typically found together in a food-with eggs being an exception. There is more evidence for saturated fat impairing our cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol, so we shouldn't worry about avoiding eggs for better heart health. Eggs are packed with protein, selenium, choline and zinc, and it is one of the few true food sources of Vitamin D for healthy bones and better brain health. We always love scrambled eggs and veggies on busy mornings, but our Avocado Egg Chilaquiles are perfect for lazy Saturdays.
It's easy to think of garlic strictly as a flavoring agent, but this little allium offers a whole bunch of amazing health benefits. Garlic has been used for its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties for thousands of years.
Garlic can help protect the immune system from sickness, reduce heart disease risk by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and even promote healthy aging. There are few snacks we love more than fresh veggies and our Garlic Hummus, and we are always looking for an excuse to whip up our Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes outside of the holiday season.
Related: Healthy Garlic Recipes
Grapes are often seen as a "lesser" fruit with a high sugar content. While grapes are higher in sugar and lower in fiber than some other fruits, it's their high antioxidant count that truly makes them shine.
One of the most commonly known antioxidants found in grapes (and wine!), resveratrol, can help protect against cancer, heart-related illness, inflammation and high blood sugar levels. Our Roasted Kabocha Squash & Grapes is a unique-yet-delicious holiday side, and our Chicken Waldorf Salad with red grapes is a summer staple.
Thanks to the rising popularity of cauliflower, people are finally starting to understand not all white foods are bad, and mushrooms are definitely one veg with serious health benefits. And we're not talking about expensive medicinal mushrooms or powders here, we are talking about regular ol' button, portobello and oyster mushrooms!
For starters, mushrooms are the only plant-based source of Vitamin D, so they are an essential food for vegans and vegetarians. Mushrooms are full of B vitamins, selenium and potassium, and they are also key for improving gut health. We absolutely love topping our pizza with some sliced 'shrooms, and they make the perfect meaty substitute in our Pecan & Mushroom Burger.
Turns out, there was a reason mom always made us eat oatmeal for breakfast! Like mushrooms, oats are a neutral-colored food with a load of health benefits. Oats are a great source of healthy carbs-and they're much better for you than cereal or white bread since they pack a fiber boost to slow digestion and keep you fuller for longer. They are also a great source of magnesium, iron and manganese. They even offer a bit of plant protein for a seriously well-rounded food!
Oats are extremely versatile, pairing well with both sweet and savory flavors, making it easy to switch up your breakfast without too much hassle. Our Thai Peanut Overnight Oats bring this grain into a spicy, savory territory, but our more traditional Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats will please those with a sweet tooth.
Is it just us, or did peas seem to always find their way on the dinner table growing up? Thankfully, we've evolved past those mushy peas mom made, and love adding peas to all kinds of dishes. Just one cup of peas is packed with protein, fiber, almost a whole day's worth of Vitamin C and plenty of other vitamins and minerals.
Peas are popping up in many plant-based products, as their high fiber and protein content make them appealing for functional foods. We prefer to eat them in our Peas with Pearl Onions and Pancetta or a cozy, creamy pot pie.
So, we pretty much want you to take everything you've heard about potatoes and throw it out the window. Harvard recently revisited a huge study that found potatoes were unhealthy and realized it wasn't the potatoes causing adverse health effects, but all the indulgent toppings served with them giving these spuds a bad rap (think: loaded fries or cheesy twice-baked potatoes).
Potatoes have more potassium per serving than bananas and broccoli. They're also a good source of fiber, helping to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes. And there are so many different delicious varieties to choose from! Our Skillet Lemon Chicken & Potatoes with Kale is an easy, delicious and super-healthy weeknight dinner and our Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili for Two is hearty and warming on a cold night.
If you push past the yogurts marketed to children with their high sugar content and the "diet" versions made with artificial sweeteners, yogurt can be a seriously healthy food and essential part of our diets.
Yogurt is full of good-for-your-gut probiotics, which helps boost our digestion, immunity and brain health. Yogurt is also an excellent source of calcium and protein for strong bones and can add creaminess to dishes without all the fat and calories of heavy cream. We love using yogurt in our Cajun Salmon with Greek Yogurt Remoulade to lighten things up, and it is especially delicious in our super-convenient Granola & Yogurt Breakfast Popsicles.
Related: How to Buy the Healthiest Yogurt