The 33 Greatest Foods for Living Healthy

These fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts will have you and your family living healthy year round.


| February/March 2005



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All legitimate roads to a healthy diet have one central crossing point: People are at their healthiest when they eat lots of fruits and vegetables as the majority of their daily food. The undeniable value of fruits and vegetables is something even the protein pushers finally acceded to when Atkins diet publicists acknowledged that a high intake of meat and fat is not a healthy diet. With that in mind, we present our 33 Greatest Foods you can eat for daily nutrition and a healthy body. 

How We Chose

The study of nutrition is sometimes like the weather: If you wait five minutes, it’ll change. Literally tens of thousands of nutrition studies are published every year — many of them contradictory — and hundreds of diet fads crowd the bookstores.

We reviewed the latest scientific research about which foods really are all that the studies claim and made a list of the top choices, based on flavor and wide appeal — characteristics the nutrition policy experts rarely take into account. With so many fantastic fruits, vegetables and whole grains to choose from, the selection wasn’t easy. In addition to flavor, we looked at such qualifiers as nutrition density, that is, the nutritional “bang for the buck.” We looked at availability — the likelihood all our readers will be able to find fresh examples of the featured food. And finally, we looked at something we call “gardenability.” Because so many Mother Earth News readers are avid gardeners, we want to recommend foods that are easy and fun to grow, too. Use this collection as a springboard for your own common-sense approach to healthy eating and bring more of the fruits, vegetables and other foods you enjoy into your daily diet.

The bulk of our diets should be the stuff we already know as health foods: fruits and vegetables. There’s no overestimating their value. The well-publicized Five-A-Day program developed by the National Cancer Institute encourages Americans to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day, but even that number is understated. A better goal for good health is 10 a day. In studies around the world, the populations that ate the greatest amounts of fruits and vegetables, and that combined healthy eating with physical activity, are the populations with the lowest incidences of disease.

Berries and grapes. Berries — blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and mulberries — are tiny titans of flavor and nutrition. They’re positively bursting with vitamins, fiber and compounds such as flavonoids, which act as antioxidants to protect against heart and vascular disease, cancer, strokes and even the infirmities of aging. Blueberries are compact sources of the antioxidant ellagic acid, a particularly powerful plant compound. Berries are one of the best sources of anthocyanins, a phytochemical that protects against disease, and which gives fruits and vegetables their alluring red, blue and purple colors. A good rule of thumb is the darker the berry, the higher the concentration of anthocyanins.

In a landmark 2002 study at Tufts University, blueberries were shown to influence reversals of defects in motor function, memory and cognition associated with aging. Rutin, another flavonoid in berries, has shown protective effects against ulcers. The antioxidant quercetin, which resides in the skins of dark berries and grapes, protects against cancers and works best when combined with vitamin C, of which berries have one of the most concentrated sources.

jason m
12/21/2008 7:00:25 PM

Fish actually contain about the same amount of cholesterol as red meat. Saturated Fat and cholesterol are very health. Really research this. There is so much information and commonsense to back it up. Start with the Weston A Price Foundation, and go from there.






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