The title of this blog may be a bit misleading. When I say that there are 15 foods that I want you to eat every day, what I mean is that these foods should at least be rotating into your daily diet. This list contains nutrient powerhouse foods that increase satiety while impacting seemingly endless health benefits on your body’s systems. If you can find a way to incorporate all of these foods into one day without eating past the point of fullness, then by all means do so. But if you cannot eat all 15 of these foods each day, at least try to include as many as you can.
The 15 Foods You Should Be Eating Every Day And Why:
1. Red/Dark Berries
This includes blueberries, blackberries, acai, goji, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.
Dark berries are full of phytochemicals and keep us healthy by lowering our risk of oxidative stress, inflammation, dementia, and certain forms of cancer. For example, strawberries can prevent and reverse esophageal cancer. Eating berries daily can double your levels of natural killer cells. These killer cells are part of your immune system’s response to fighting cancer cells.
Berries are not only delicious and beautiful, but they are loaded with antioxidants. Blueberries are said to have the ability to stave off and perhaps even reverse the neurological changes associated with aging. Eating blueberries and strawberries is associated with delayed rates of cognitive decline by as much as 2.5 years! Eating berries, especially blueberries, can help older adults maintain brain function and improve their memory.
This includes soybeans, edamame, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, and more.
Beans are a great source of clean protein, fiber, and iron. Research indicates that beans are one of the single most important predictors of longevity in older individuals. Beans are not only known to have slimming effects, but they can also help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Amazingly, one scientific study illustrated that individuals can lower their risk of death by 8% for every 20 grams (approximately 2 tablespoons worth) of beans eaten daily! And a diet void of beans was found to quadruple one’s risk of high blood pressure.
This includes almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and more.
Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. Eating them has been linked to reduced rates of heart disease, certain cancers, and gallstones. Including nuts in your diet is shown to help prevent the effects of type 2 diabetes and has beneficial effects on hypertension, cancer, and inflammation.
One study found that those who ate nuts at least five times per week padded their life expectancy with an extra two years on average! And another study found that people who regularly ate one ounce of nuts at least seven times a week were 20% less likely to die, compared to those who did not eat nuts.
Out of all of the seeds, I think flax seeds deserve special mention. Flax seeds have protective effects against breast and prostate cancers. They also help control cholesterol and blood pressure. Incredibly, ground flaxseed was found to be two to three times more effective than pharmaceutical drugs taken to lower blood pressure—and you will not find any negative side effects when eating them! Flax seeds also help manage triglyceride and blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and can even be consumed to treat constipation.
This includes chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, and more.
Chia seeds, in particular, contain ALA (an important omega-3), fiber, and protein. But almost all seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. They keep your digestive tract clean, improve cognitive function, increase bone density, reduce inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, keep your heart healthy, can help lower the risk for colon, breast, and cervical cancers, protect against skin damage, and improve your athletic endurance. Toss some sesame seeds onto your salad, pumpkin seeds onto your smoothie bowls, fennel seeds onto your roasted veggies, and prepare to live for a very long time.
Do not be afraid of the high sugar content in dates; they score relatively low on the glycemic index. This means that they will not spike your blood sugar levels. On the contrary, they will provide you with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, along with numerous resulting health benefits.
Eating dates allows you to satisfy your sweet tooth while lowering your cholesterol, fighting off osteoporosis, treating and preventing constipation, giving your energy levels a pick-me-up, reducing triglyceride levels (which effectively decreases your risk of heart disease), stimulating your immune system, reducing inflammation and your risk of cancer, improving your hormone regulation, and more—believe it or not. These super-delicious snacks are a true superfood. Eat them whole, throw them in your smoothie, use them to sweeten baked goods, or blend them into a syrup to top your dessert!
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
This includes broccoli, Brussel sprouts, horseradish, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, radishes, and turnip greens.
Cruciferous veggies have gotten some undeserved slack over the last several years, but for the general population they are not a concern. In fact, they are extraordinarily healthy. The cruciferous vegetable family tends to be high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as dietary fiber. The list of their benefits is long, but the most important ones to note are that they are packed with cancer-fighting properties and reduce inflammation (which is at the root of most diseases). They keep your blood sugar steady, help you lose weight, combat heart disease, and balance hormone levels.
7. Whole Grains
This includes barley, brown rice, quinoa, oats, millet, popcorn, whole-wheat pasta, and wild rice.
Carbohydrates tend to get a bad rap, but ditching whole grains would be a huge mistake! Whole grains (not to be confused with simple carbs like white bread) provide a wealth of nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. They often lead to increased weight loss thanks to the high fiber content, keeping you feeling full between meals. Good for the waistline and digestive health, whole grains also protect you from heart disease and stroke, and even help prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking and crashing. The fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals may even help prevent cancer. Including a serving of whole grains in your meals can also help reduce inflammation, which keeps heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even rheumatoid arthritis at bay.
This includes turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cloves, cardamom, chili powder, nutmeg, coriander, and more.
Spices do so much more than make our food taste nice, which turns out to be a major bonus considering how magical they are for our health. Spices reduce inflammation, boost heart health and the immune system, and stave off cancer.
Ground cardamom can help keep your breath smelling pleasant and prevent cavities, lower your blood pressure, improve digestion, and fight cancer. Cinnamon is antioxidant-rich and boosts the immune system, protects the heart, and fights cancer. It is also anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-diabetic—so we are pro-cinnamon!
Coriander, or the dried seeds of the cilantro plant, can help keep your blood sugar from spiking, improve digestion and cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and prevent neurological disease. These three examples are just the tip of the spice-berg! I suggest exploring cuisines that are unfamiliar to you and experimenting with the unique flavors and health benefits of their different spices.
9. Leafy Greens
This includes spinach, collard greens, lettuce, other salad greens, Swiss chard, and more.
Leafy greens are an inexpensive and potentially delicious (if you know what you are doing) way to ensure that your diet includes calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin, potassium, zinc, antioxidants, magnesium, folate, and phytonutrients.
The benefits of leafy greens are seemingly limitless. They have anti-inflammatory effects and may prevent strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, free radical DNA damage, glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. They may lower the risk of diabetes, breast cancer, kidney cancer, and lymphoma. And increasing your leafy green intake can lower your risk of cognitive decline and improve your dental health and immune system. If inner health isn’t enough to get you to eat your greens, it is worth noting that they are known to diminish wrinkles. Sold!
10. Fermented Foods
This includes sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, plant-based kefir, and more.
Fermented foods like miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that can promote gut health. Probiotics can heal the gut microbiome, which helps with issues such as gas, bloating, and leaky gut. If you have issues with being irregular, fermented foods can help sort you out by improving digestion and reducing diarrhea. Fermented foods are an especially great food group for those with IBS and Crohn’s disease.
Aside from the situation below the belt, fermented foods can also benefit your immune system and heart and help you maintain a slim waistline. And did you know the nervous system is connected to the intestinal system, so to speak? The two rely on each other to run smoothly, so a healthy gut can also support your mental health! Believe it or not, recent research has established that the majority of the body’s serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in the gut.
Fermented foods offer more than probiotics, too. Some of them are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Kimchi, for example, contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, plus calcium, iron, phosphorous, and selenium.
11. Sea Vegetables
This includes seaweed, nori, kombu, algae, wakame, kelp, dulse flakes, and more.
Sea vegetables are high in iodine and have phytochemicals that you simply cannot get from eating land plants.
Women can consume a single sheet of nori seaweed per day to cut their risk of developing or re-developing breast cancer by more than half. Powdered wakame can lessen or vanish symptoms of all types of herpes with no negative side effects. One study found that eating kelp had very positive effects on blood glucose levels, uncovering that kelp can help prevent and treat Type II diabetes.
Because of their high levels of fiber, polyphenol defense compounds, polysaccharides, and carotenoids, sprinkling only a teaspoon of these super sea vegetables onto your meals will help you fight disease, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and promote weight loss. Just be sure not to overdo it since some sea plants have tested high in heavy metals.
12. Bitter Greens
This includes arugula, endive, dandelion greens, escarole, kale, mustard greens, radicchio, turnip greens, watercress, and more.
Bitter greens are nutrient-dense dark, leafy vegetables that help cleanse your liver, purify your blood, improve digestion, reduce acid reflux, bloating, and gas, eliminate acne, lower high blood pressure, prevent anemia, detoxify blood, and lower cholesterol. They are high in vitamins C, K, and A, and contain lots of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as fiber and folate.
And the list of amazing benefits does not stop there—each type of bitter green has its own set of impressive rewards. Dandelion greens, for example, promote eye health, decrease water retention, and protect the liver. Mustard greens have been associated with preventing arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, and lung disease, and are known to protect your body from free-radical damage. Incorporating bitter greens into your meals is a great way to add some punchy flavors while boosting the health properties of whatever it is your eating. And there are so many different kinds, you are sure to find one that pairs nicely with whatever it is you are eating.
This includes rosemary, basil, parsley, curcumin, tulsi, ashwagandha, cilantro, mint, fennel, and more.
Herbs help regulate blood sugar and support heart health, and each one offers a myriad of benefits. Cilantro removes heavy metals from your body, helps prevent urinary tract infections, and so much more. Basil boosts immunity, prevents diabetes, and protects against cancer. And herbs do a lot more than make your body healthier, they also work for your mind!
Herbs offer some of nature’s best stress remedies. Some of them can reduce anxiety and provide energy—and ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, is proven to do both at the same time! Tulsi is said to deliver calming energy and a sense of well-being, and nervine herbs help you to feel relaxed by reducing overactive stress responses. Lemon balm is shown to reduce anxiety and insomnia. And these results are not just a gentle placebo effect. Studies on herbal intake reveal results of actual nervous system improvement, lower cortisol levels, decreased insomnia, and improved scores on working memory and mood. Go heavy on the herbs that you already know and love, and do not shy away from trying new ones.
14. Onion family
This includes garlic, scallions, onions, shallots, and chives.
They might make your eyes watery, but you would have a lot more to cry about if you missed out on the wonderful health benefits of onions. Onions are very versatile and come in many forms. You can even enjoy them raw or cooked without worrying about losing antioxidants in the process. Raw onions and garlic serve to prevent blood-clotting, which lowers your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
Including members of the onion family in your meals can also help protect you from cancer, keep your heart healthy, help keep your bones strong, boost immunity, protect against diabetes, and may even make you more fertile. A little known secret about onions: refrigerating them before they are cut makes them spoil sooner, so wait until after they are chopped to store them.
This includes white button, portobello, cremini, oyster, shitake, lion’s mane, chanterelle, porcini, and more.
Last but certainly not least: mushrooms. Do not let their “fun guy” reputation fool you, mushrooms are seriously nutritious. They are full of free-radical fighting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and contain immune-boosting properties, too. They also help defend against cancer, support brain health, regulate blood sugar levels, keep your gut happy, and improve athletic performance—to name just a few of their health benefits.
And I am not only promoting the edible mushrooms here! Some mushrooms are hallucinogenic—including psilocybin mushrooms, which I cannot recommend enough. They bind to a serotonin receptor in your brain and give you a heightened sense of clarity, closure, acceptance, open-mindedness, gratitude, and peace. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am who I am today because of them! Though I definitely do not recommend incorporating psilocybin into your routine on a daily basis.
Transforming your diet overnight to include all of the mentioned vegetables, exotic spices, and exciting new herbs is not feasible for everyone. I would suggest starting small—looking for recipes that feature one or two of these ingredients and building from there. Many of the items on this list, such as basil, mushrooms, onions, almonds, brown rice, and spinach are probably already in your kitchen. You may just not realize how potent their health benefits are. Strive to eat as many of these ingredients as possible every day, and watch how easy it is to incorporate at least five of them in just one meal!
For a convenient and delicious way to ensure that you are getting the majority of these foods throughout the day, try my S.O.U.P Cleanse! It contains many of the ingredients listed here, including goji berry, dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, garlic, ginger, seaweed, mushrooms, turmeric, and so much more.