70 Powerfoods to Supercharge Your Health

The top superfoods to add to your grocery shopping list, and diet, today.

August 3, 2016
superfoods
Shutterstock

The Information Age has done to food what it's done to everything else—caused information overload. Covering it all like a lumpy, cold gravy are the food industry, which engineers flavors to make us want more of what they're selling, and the restaurant industry, which manages to shoehorn a day's worth of calories into one cheeseburger.

More: 50 Foods You Should Never Eat

You want to eat better, but how do you sift through all the noise and temptation to gain control over your diet? It's not about willpower. It's about sanity. It's about slowing everything down so you can process what your body truly needs and separate it from what your pleasure center wants.

To start, incorporate these 70 powerfoods into your diet

Arugula
Shutterstock
Arugula

It's a peppery salad green, although younger leaves have less of a bite than mature ones do. Arugula has vitamin A (for vision), vitamin C (for immune function), and vitamin K (for blood clotting). In addition, it contains heart-protecting compounds known as flavanols. It's an easy vegetable to grow yourself, and you can toss arugula into cooked rigatoni; add a drizzle of olive oil along with some roasted cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan. Or use it instead of lettuce on a burger or sandwich.

asian pears
Shutterstock
Asian pears

One large Asian pear has 10 grams of fiber—nearly double what a large apple provides. The best way to pick a ripe one: Ask your produce manager or market vendor for a taste. It should be crisp, not mealy. For a simple slaw, cut a pear into matchsticks and toss them in a bowl with sliced cabbage and shallots, minced chives, and a splash of cider vinegar. Season with salt, black pepper, and sugar. Add mayo or Greek yogurt for a creamy variation, and consider it as part of your healthy diet detox

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
 
spinach
Shutterstock
Baby spinach

Iceberg is fine, but you can do better. The deeper the color of your greens, the more phytonutrients and antioxidants they contain. These nutrients pack a powerful punch: An increase of 1.15 servings per day of leafy green vegetables may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, notes a study review in the British Medical Journal. That's because their antioxidants may help ward off the oxidative stress that can lead to diabetes and other chronic diseases. 

Three cups of raw spinach serves up about a quarter of the amount of iron men need each day, plus a hit of bone-building calcium, and even has a secret power that helps you lose weight. Toss with slices of a blood orange, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar.

Shopping tip: Buy spinach from the front of the display, where it's more exposed to the light. Exposing greens to artificial light may help make them more nutritious. In a USDA study, spinach stored under fluorescent light (as it is in a store's produce section) had more folate and vitamins C, E, and K1 than spinach stored in darkness.

Bananas
Shutterstock
Bananas

They're most famous for their blood pressure-reducing potassium content, which is a big benefit: A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a whopping 95 percent of men don't hit their daily mark for potassium. But they're not a one-trick fruit: Bananas are also rich in manganese and vitamin B6, and don't forget their skin either. There are tons of uses for banana peels, so don't ditch them immediately.

Beefsteak tomato
Shutterstock
Beefsteak tomato

This monster can weigh as much as two pounds, and it has a massive flavor payload to match. A beefsteak's circumference makes it the go-to pick for a BLT or caprese stack, or as a lycopene-loaded snack. Sprinkle them with salt and olive oil. (The fat in the oil can help your body absorb nutrients.) Sprinkle, drizzle, take a bite, and repeat.

The best specimens are glossy, blemish-free, and crimson. Buy organic tomatoes when you can. Tomatoes grown using organic fertilization and organic pest- control techniques contained 55 percent more vitamin C than conventionally grown tomatoes, a Brazilian study found. Plus, the organically grown tomatoes housed 139 percent more disease-fighting antioxidant phenols. Organic farming can subject crops to more stressful growing conditions, which may boost their natural defenses and antioxidant stockpiles, the researchers say.

 
 
Beets
Shutterstock
Beets

This root may help your endurance so you can redline your 5K time. In a 2012 Saint Louis University study, runners who ate 1 1/4 cups of baked beets 75 minutes before racing were 5 percent faster toward the end of the run than placebo eaters.

Slice beets 1/8-inch thick and toss with oil, salt, and black pepper to create beet veggie chips. Bake at 375°F until chip-like, 15 to 20 minutes. Sauté the tops: They provide vitamin A for vision and vitamin K for healthy blood clotting.

Bison
Shutterstock
Bison

Beef's leaner cousin, bison, has less than half the total fat while still packing essential nutrients, like zinc, selenium, and B vitamins, needed for optimal testosterone production, immune function, and energy.

Black cod
Shutterstock
Black cod

Foods from the sea aren't just protein-rich—they're also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to heart health and brainpower.

Also known as sablefish, black cod is a meaty whitefish that has more omega-3s per gram than sardines—with far less funk. Plus, they're a sustainable species.

 
 
Black tea
Shutterstock
Black tea

Like the green variety, black tea is good for BP. Plus, this drink might protect your prostate. A study published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that every cup of black tea a man drank per day was linked to a five percent decrease in his risk of prostate cancer. The researchers say that might be because black tea contains flavonoids, which can fight cancer cells—and hamper the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need in order to expand.

Blueberries
Shutterstock
Blueberries

Blueberries are blue because of anthocyanins—potent antioxidants that may prevent heart disease and cancer, according to a study by Romanian researchers. Can't get 'em fresh? Buy them in the freezer aisle. According to research in the journal Neurology, eating these berries regularly may help shield you from Parkinson's disease. In the study, men who ate the most strawberries and blueberries (two or more weekly servings) were 23 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's later in life than those who ate the least. The berries' anthocyanins may trigger the production of protective brain enzymes, the researchers say, so make blueberry pancakes you breakfast of choice. 

chicken breasts
Shutterstock
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Poultry will give you plenty of protein with generally less fat than other types of meats. One downside: Poultry is a top cause of death from foodborne illness in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Don't become a statistic: Wash your hands before and after handling raw chicken, thaw frozen chicken in the fridge, and cook poultry until a meat thermometer stuck into the thickest parts of the thigh and breast reads 165°F, the USDA recommends.

Then, reach for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Roast a batch for salads all week long. A 4-ounce breast contains 36 grams of protein.

 
 
Broccoli
Shutterstock
Broccoli

These florets contain an active form of an enzyme that may help your body extract beneficial compounds called isothiocyanates, which help fend off cancer. Eat your broccoli raw or lightly cooked; heat reduces the enzyme's activity. Try broccoli sprouts instead of lettuce in a sandwich, or mix broccoli into coleslaw.

Broccoli rabe
Shutterstock
Broccoli rabe

A relative of cabbage and turnips, broccoli rabe also goes by the moniker rapini. It's a low-calorie food and has edible leaves and stalks that are a little bitter, but more flavorful than broccoli's. One bunch, cooked, contains 17 grams of plant protein and 12 grams of fiber, plus your daily requirements of vitamins A, C, and K. Boil broccoli rabe in a pot of salted water until it's tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain and sauté it in olive oil, adding garlic and red-pepper flakes. Try it as a simple side with grilled chicken or in a sausage sandwich.

Butternut squash
Shutterstock
Butternut squash

The orange flesh tips you off to its payload of carotenoids, a potent class of antioxidants linked to lower incidences of cancer and heart disease. Look for smaller specimens, which are usually more tender, and turn it into a dreamy butternut squash mac 'n' cheese dish that'll have guests positively drooling. 

 
 
Canola oil
Shutterstock
Canola oil

Neutral flavor and a high smoke point (the temperature at which a fat starts to break down and becomes useless) make canola oil great for stir-frying. What's more, its combination of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help your heart. In a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, people who added canola to their diets and subtracted other fats reduced their LDL cholesterol by 17 percent and their triglycerides by 20 percent.

Cauliflower
Shutterstock
Cauliflower

Think of it as "white broccoli"—nutritionally, that is. Cauliflower is a nutritional dynamo and contains indole-3-carbinol, a compound that may help thwart cancer and repair your DNA. Break a head of cauliflower into florets and turn it into cauliflower popcorn. Toss with oil and then with one tablespoon of curry powder. Roast in a 425 ̊F oven until browned and tender.

Chard
Shutterstock
Chard

Cook up a cup for nearly four times your recommended intake of vitamin K, which can help slow arterial calcification. Vitamin K is fat soluble, so sauté your chard in olive oil for the best absorption.

 
 
Celery root
Shutterstock
Celery root

Also known as celeriac, this root might be the weird stepchild of the vegetable world, but flavor-wise it's like the love child of parsley and celery. It infuses wraps and salads with a bright, grassy, crunchy complexity, and it's a great source of bone-building phosphorus.

Chia seeds
Shutterstock
Chia seeds

Don't let their small size fool you: Some seeds are nutritional powerhouses.

Beyond their role in growing a 'fro on your desktop pet, tiny black chia seeds are a good source of calcium and an excellent source of fiber and manganese. Add chia seeds to a bowl of oatmeal or sprinkle them over sliced fruit, or throw them onto these overnight chia oat cups for a sleep-while-it-cooks-breakfast.

Cinnamon
Shutterstock
Cinnamon

It may look like dirt, but it acts like a drug, and is a safer way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Two teaspoons of cinnamon, consumed with food, can tamp down post-meal blood sugar surges, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In fact, another study showed that as little as a quarter teaspoon a day can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, and bad LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe the methyl-hydroxychalcone polymers in the spice increase cells' ability to metabolize sugar by up to 20 times. Sprinkle it on coffee and oatmeal.

 
 
Clams
Shutterstock
Clams

Twenty small cooked clams have only about 280 calories, but they pack a protein punch—almost 50 grams. Clams also contain high levels of vitamin B12 and iron. Put scrubbed clams in a pot with white wine, garlic cloves, parsley, and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and steam until they open. Hit them with lemon juice.

coffee
Shutterstock
Coffee

A cup of joe does more than perk you up and the incredible health benefits of coffee can't be denied. Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. What's more, a growing body of research suggests that quaffing a few cups a day can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and even prostate cancer.

How do you take your coffee? The answer should be black, without sugar. A touch of half-and-half may not add many calories, but new research from Croatia suggests that milk can reduce the antioxidant levels. Of course, if you doctor your drink with sugar or artificial sweeteners, you're just stirring in calories or chemicals.

A better way to handle bitter: Add some ground cinnamon to taste. If you're feeling extra adventurous, try Bulletproof coffee for a brain-boosting morning jolt. Finally, remember that, like many other things, coffee is best in moderation. In a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, men who drank more than 4 cups a day were 21 percent more likely to die in a 17-year period.

Cranberries
Shutterstock
Cranberries

Don't relegate cranberries to the holidays. They contain A-type proanthocyanidins, an uncommon antioxidant that may explain the berries' inflammation-fighting effects, according to new research in Advances in Nutrition, and may even cut antibiotic use in UTI treatment. Aim for a serving or two of cranberry cocktail or dried berries a day. Just be careful of the intense sugar content of prepared juices and sauce.

 
 
Curry
Shutterstock
Curry

If you've ever been a Marlboro man, you may be able to undo some of the damage: Consuming curry can help former smokers breathe easier. In a study from Singapore, ex-smokers who ate curry monthly scored 10 percent higher on a lung function test than those who didn't eat the spice blend. Even folks who had never lit up took deeper breaths after downing curry-rich food. Credit the antioxidants in the spice turmeric. Not a curry fan? Make yellow mustard your go-to condiment; it's high in turmeric.

Dandelion greens
Shutterstock
Dandelion greens

Don't mow down these weeds. Dandelion leaves are a favorite detoxifying food and can nicely counterbalance heavier grilling fare. (Perfect lawn? Buy the greens by the bunch at a grocery store.) A cup of raw greens yields 2 grams of gut-filling fiber and more than triple the calcium of the same amount of raw spinach. To help balance their bitterness, add a glug of white wine to the sautéed greens after they wilt, then cook for another minute. They pair well with steak.

scrambled eggs
Shutterstock
Eggs

Start scrambling. Eggs contain choline, a brain-boosting vitamin. What's more, if you've heard that they're bad for your heart, you heard wrong. In fact, Brazilian research suggests a link between egg consumption and clearer coronary arteries. One guess is that the yolk's payload of vitamins E, B12, and folate may be the key. Just stop at four eggs a day to limit the calories.

 
 
Extra-virgin olive oil
Shutterstock
Extra-virgin olive oil

Make this your go-to for salads and homemade salad dressing recipes. Its combo of high monounsaturated fatty acids and good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids make it a healthy choice. Studies have linked olive oil consumption to better heart health and a lower risk of strokes and cancer. Store your bottle in a cool, dry cupboard—otherwise, heat and light can break down its healthful compounds.

Feta cheese
Shutterstock
Feta cheese

It's a medium-firm, white Greek cheese with a light but tangy flavor, and is one of the 14 healthiest cheese varieties you should eat. An ounce has 75 calories—less than Cheddar, Swiss, and full-fat mozzarella. In addition, it's a good source of protein. Crumble some feta into a spinach salad, toss it with sautéed shrimp and lemon, or use it as a pizza cheese.

Garlic
Shutterstock
Garlic

Surprise—garlic breath is healthy, too. Specifically, it's good for your lungs, so it's time to supercharge the healing power of garlic. Chinese scientists recently discovered that garlic might protect against lung cancer. Nonsmokers who ate a diet rich in raw garlic were 33 percent less likely to develop lung cancer than those who ate none. Consuming raw garlic releases sulfuric compounds that may prevent cell mutations and tumor growth, according to the study. Even people who ate as little as three cloves a week saw a reduction in risk.

Try tossing freshly cooked spaghetti with raw minced garlic, olive oil, and parsley, and season with salt and black pepper. And don't throw away garlic with tails: Garlic cloves that have sprouted contain more cancer- and heart-disease-fighting flavonoids than fresh ones do. Those cloves can be more bitter than fresh ones, so throw them into the sauté pan; avoid raw preparations like homemade salsa.

 
 
rib eye steak
Shutterstock
Grass-fed rib eye steak

Between beef, pork, and game, these meats can give you a hit of protein and vitamins. Just beware of processed versions, like deli meats, bacon, and sausage. A study from Poland published in 2014 showed that men who ate about 2.6 ounces of processed red meat per day were 28 percent more likely to develop heart failure and more than twice as likely to die from it compared to men who ate less than an ounce per day.

One theory: The sodium in processed meats increases your blood pressure, which may increase heart failure risk, the researchers say. Plus, the phosphate additives in these meats might impair your body's ability to balance calcium and phosphate, which can harm your heart. Finally, smoked meats are a source of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been linked to heart disease. Buy fresh cuts of meat and cook them yourself.

Research shows that eating grass-fed red meat may improve your inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acid profiles. The meat itself may contain triple the immune-boosting vitamin E and seven times the antioxidant carotenoids that grain-finished beef has.

Green tea
Shutterstock
Green tea

Research suggests that this grassy variety, which hasn't yet been fermented like other teas, may improve your cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, fight cancer, promote satiety, and even prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Don't like the bitter taste of green tea? Let the boiled water cool a bit before you brew. The ideal temperature for brewing green tea is between 170° and 185°F.

Guavas
Shutterstock
Guavas

This tropical fruit has sweet white, yellow, pink, or red flesh inside its yellow-green rind. It delivers fiber and more vitamin C than an orange. What's more, guava's antioxidants are more active than those in apples, bananas, mangoes, or papayas, a study from India reveals. Bite into it like an apple, or slice it in half and scoop out the pulp. You can also blend some of the flesh into a yogurt smoothie for a hint of tropical sweetness.

 
 
Hemp seeds
Shutterstock
Hemp seeds

Just an ounce of hemp seeds delivers 11 grams of complete protein—that's protein with all the essential amino acids, the same ones found in meat, eggs, or dairy. Shake some into a stir-fry or blend them into a post-workout smoothie.

Japanese eggplant
Shutterstock
Japanese eggplant

It's more slender than your average eggplant but has the same flavor and texture. Choose ones that are 6 to 8 inches long and glossy; dull ones are often bitter. Slice them into 1/4-inch-thick planks and grill over direct, high heat until tender, basting with a two-to-one mixture of melted butter and miso paste. Serve sprinkled with black sesame seeds, or serve in a hearty winter soup that'll keep you warm throughout the cold months. 

Jicama
Shutterstock
Jicama

You might notice that your grocery store is stocking more and more exotic vegetables, and this tuber is one worth trying. Jicama contains inulin, a prebiotic that may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Dip thick-cut jicama, instead of chips, in guacamole.

 
 
kale
Shutterstock
Kale

When it comes to nutrition and cruciferous vegetables, kale is king. These greens may lower your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dump baby kale into pasta, soup, or salad, or bake them for a veggie chip snack.

Overall, cruciferous vegetables have powerful nutrition benefits: One Italian study found that eating them at least once a week may decrease your risk of multiple cancers compared with eating them occasionally or not at all. Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds called glucosinolates that can help block tumor growth. 

Kamut
Shutterstock
Kamut

This heart-healthy, nutty-tasting whole grain yields almost double the nutrients of other varieties of wheat, with 10 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber in each cup, and is one of the top carbs that'll help you lose weight. It's rich in potassium, zinc, and antioxidants.

Kefir
Shutterstock
Kefir

This fermented milk packs a two-to-three ratio of protein to carbohydrates. Once in your digestive tract, kefir acts as a fertilizer, dumping billions of bacteria that benefit your heart, digestion, and immune system.

 
 
Kohlrabi
Shutterstock
Kohlrabi

Consider shredding kohlrabi into slaws. Its crisp flesh is rich in high-powered disease-fighting vitamin C and contains cancer-fighting sulforaphane.

leeks
Shutterstock
Leeks

These long, thin bundles have a milder flavor than most onions. They're also a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Try this: Turn it into a vegetable tart. Thinly slice the tender white and light-green parts and swirl them in a bowl of water to wash. Drain and dry. Try them sautéed in butter and added to scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes.

Lentils
Shutterstock
Lentils

When cooked, they're tender and a bit chewy, with a subtle nutty flavor. A half cup of cooked lentils has about eight grams of fiber and only 115 calories. Lentils are also a rich source of minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and manganese. Cook according to package directions, season with salt and herbs, and add lemon juice or vinegar to finish. Serve as a side dish with grilled fish, lamb, or sausage.

 
 
Macadamia nuts
Shutterstock
Macadamia nuts

If you ever doubted the nutritional power of nuts, here's your proof: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that there were 20 percent fewer deaths over 30 years among people who ate at least seven ounces of nuts a week compared to those who ate none. 

With a serving yielding 17 grams of monounsaturated fat (the heart-healthiest kind), macadamia nuts steamroll almonds and walnuts in good-fat content. Pair them with dark chocolate for a super snack.

Mackerel
Shutterstock
Mackerel

One six-ounce fillet contains two grams of omega-3s—more than four times the amount in canned light tuna. Too fishy? Douse cooked mackerel with freshly squeezed lemon juice for balance.

Mangoes
Shutterstock
Mangoes

To squash your triglyceride level, eat more mangoes. In a Mexican study, people who ate about a cup of mango every day for 30 days lowered their levels of these harmful fats by 38 percent. The fruit's polyphenols help reduce oxidation.

 
 
Mussels
Shutterstock
Mussels

Affordable, sustainable, and protein-rich at about 20 grams per serving, mussels are muscle chow. They also deliver vitamins B12 and C, iron, and magnesium, all of which can help you recover from exercise.

navy beans
Shutterstock
Navy beans

Beans should be known as heart-savers, not windbreakers. People who ate a cup of fiber-rich lentils, beans, or chickpeas a day reduced their systolic blood pressure by four millimeters of mercury after three months, according to a study in Archives of Internal Medicine. The potassium and magnesium found in legumes may play a role in regulating blood pressure. Add these legumes to salads, curries, and chili.

Fact: There are many reasons to eat more beans. Navy beans, especially, boast the best combo of magnesium and potassium—two nutrients men often fall short in—and vitamin C. Plus, every cup of boiled navy beans contains 19 grams of fiber—more than any other cooked food.

Oats
Shutterstock
Oats

They pack a powerful combo of fiber, folate, and magnesium. Plus, they have proven cholesterol-lowering properties.

 
 
onion
Shutterstock
Onions

They might leave you with bad breath, but the stink will be worth it in the end. Compounds in onions may have cancer-fighting benefits, blood-thinning properties, and even antibacterial effects, according to a study review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

milk
Shutterstock
Organic 1% milk

Milk isn't just for kids: Men who consumed the most dairy were less likely to become obese, Swedish researchers found in a 2013 study. The reason: Certain natural trans fatty acids in dairy may help reduce risk of insulin resistance.

Buy milk from cows fed an all-grass, hormone-free diet. It delivers more omega-3 fatty acids than the conventional stuff. Opt for 1% for the ideal amount of protein and calcium without a big calorie load.

Plums
Shutterstock
Plums

These flavor bombs contain only 30 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates each. They're 85 percent water by weight, so they can even help hydrate you. Or, ditch the water and try the dried variety—prunes. A study from UC Davis suggests that prunes may help reduce blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

 
 
pork tenderloin
Shutterstock
Pork tenderloin

A hearty pork tenderloin cut contains the best combination of zinc and iron without being too high in calories.

Pumpkin seeds
Shutterstock
Pumpkin seeds

These seeds deliver the immune boosters magnesium and zinc. The roasted, hulled variety adds nuttiness to granola.

Purple sweet potatoes
Shutterstock
Purple sweet potatoes

Skip white potatoes and opt for sweet potatoes instead. Even better? The purple sweet potato derives its rich color from anthocyanins, which boost antioxidant content. Coat the potato lightly in oil, wrap it in foil, and bake at 325°F until soft, about 90 minutes. Top with a pat of butter before serving.

 
 
purslane
Shutterstock
Purslane

A lemony-tasting leafy green and one of the top edible weeds, purslane is packed with the hormone melatonin, which can function as an antioxidant. It has at least 14 times the melatonin found in any other vegetable tested by researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Quinoa
Shutterstock
Quinoa

These protein-loaded (and gluten-free!) pearls carry eight grams of the nutrient per cup. There are countless ways to eat quinoa all day long, so try tossing cooked quinoa with a little olive oil, diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, lots of chopped parsley, salt, and freshly ground black pepper for a simple tabbouleh salad.

RADICCHIO
Shutterstock
Radicchio

This spicy, red-leaf chicory is popular in Mediterranean salads. It's rich in lutein (for eye health) and vitamin K (for bone strength). Toss it with freshly boiled pasta, olive oil, and Parmesan for a filling salad that won't leave you starved.

 
 
Radish
Shutterstock
Radish

No hot-sauce-infused potato chip can match the potent punch of a fresh radish root. Eat sliced radishes raw with a good hit of flaky sea salt. Plain radishes have one measly calorie apiece, and can help quench your thirst. Oh, and save the radishes' green tops. They have a similar spiciness and add bite to a mixed-greens salad.

Red Delicious apples
Shutterstock
Red Delicious apples

There are 7,500 varieties of apples in the world, and they're all smart choices. They're high in fiber, low in calories, and filled to the core with phytonutrients. However, the Red Delicious is king for a few reasons. One is its thick skin—the peel has five times the antioxidant polyphenols of the flesh. The other is its signature hue, which comes from anthocyanins, a class of heart-disease-fighting polyphenols that are also found in red wine. One study showed that Red Delicious had the highest concentration of polyphenols out of eight common North American varieties, followed by Northern Spy and Ida Red.

Red wine
Shutterstock
Red wine

In moderation, red wine is part of a healthy diet. Ten ounces (about two glasses) of red wine after a fatty meal may shield your heart from the meal's adverse effects, say Italian scientists. Red wine reduces the post-meal rise in cholesterol oxidation products in the blood, which are linked to heart disease. Less wine may still provide the benefit. Just don't top two drinks a day, or you're going into heavy-drinking territory—which is obviously bad for your health.

 
 
Raspberries
Shutterstock
Raspberries

One of the most fiber-rich berries, they boast eight grams per cup. Plus, recent research published in the journal Food Chemistry shows that raspberries have more lutein—an eye-protecting antioxidant— than previously believed.

sea scallops
Shutterstock
Sea scallops

A 4-ounce serving of cooked sea scallops provides 23 grams of protein for 126 calories. Buy jumbo dry-packed sea scallops (the "wet" variety are treated with an additive), pat them dry and lightly coat with oil, and sear them for just two minutes per side in a hot pan. Finish with a squeeze of citrus and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Sockeye salmon
Shutterstock
Sockeye salmon

Wild salmon might be more expensive, but a 5.5-ounce serving, which is about half a fillet, boasts 175 milligrams of brain-boosting choline, 39 grams of protein, and 2,178 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.

 
 
sprouted grains
Shutterstock
Sprouted grains

These grains have begun but not finished germinating. They can have triple the soluble fiber, a key to blood sugar control. Our favorite is sprouted rice: Find it at health food stores or vitacost.com.

Strawberries
Shutterstock
Strawberries

In addition to the brain benefits noted above, strawberries are powerful in their own right. In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry, participants ate about 3 cups of strawberries a day for 16 days. Their conclusion: Eating strawberries can help your red blood cells fight disease-causing oxidative stress. You may see a similar benefit eating fewer strawberries over a longer period of time, the researchers say, but just make sure you're not eating the fruit that tops the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list by going organic.

Sunflower seeds
Shutterstock
Sunflower seeds

Roasted sunflower seeds are an excellent source of the antioxidants manganese, selenium, and vitamin E, as well as bone-building phosphorus. Sprinkle them into a salad or atop a pureed vegetable soup.

 
 
Sweet peas
Shutterstock
Sweet peas

Peas are packed with vitamin A, and they're unique among vegetables for their protein content. One cup contains 8 grams! Stock up when you're in the frozen food section. Freezing peas actually boosts their antioxidant activity, reports a study in the Journal of Food Science. All these need is a little butter and sea salt to taste great.

Turkey
Shutterstock
Turkey

It's not just for Thanksgiving. Five ounces of roast turkey contains 108 milligrams of brain-boosting choline.

Walnuts
Shutterstock
Walnuts

They're the alpha nuts in terms of alpha-linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated fat that fights inflammation. Yale researchers report that eating about a half cup of walnut halves a day can improve blood vessel function and may even promise Alzheimer's prevention.

 
 
whey protein
Shutterstock
Whey protein

It's one of the rare healthy processed foods. With its protein payoff, whey can help you get big, and it may have even more benefits. In a Washington State University study, people who drank a daily shake with whey protein for six weeks dropped their blood pressure by about eight points. Whey may improve the function of blood vessel linings so they regulate blood pressure better, the researchers say.

Take a cue from the study and add 28 grams (1 scoop) to your next post-workout shake. Make it at home in the blender; the pre-made bottled varieties can be low in protein and packed with sugar you don't need. Scoop in your powder along with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and 1/2 cup of milk. Then add 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen fruits, such as bananas, berries, or pears, and 1/2 cup of vegetables, such as kale, spinach, or carrots. A tablespoon or two of nut butter, nuts, rolled oats, or avocado can also give your smoothie thickness and a boost of fiber. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice or water, blend until smooth, and if you'd like, top with 1/4 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, grated fresh ginger, vanilla extract, honey, or maple syrup.

yogurt
Shutterstock
Yogurt

Eating yogurt can cut your diabetes risk by up to 24 percent, a study from the University of Cambridge suggests. People who ate at least four and a half 4-ounce servings a week were least likely to develop the disease. The researchers say the probiotic and vitamin K in yogurt may play a role.

One drawback: Yogurt cups often carry hidden sugar shocks. Added sugars in yogurts go by many names: "fructose," "evaporated cane juice," "cane sugar," or forms of "juice concentrate." Stick with plain Greek yogurt—which has more protein than its plain counterpart does—and have some fruit on the side.

Adapted from The Better Man Project

See Next