A healthy lifestyle is not just about eating healthy foods, it’s about balancing your calorie needs with your level of daily activities. Choosing the right foods makes that equation easier to solve, though, by prioritizing a diet high in nutrients and low in calories.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are some of the biggest risks to global health. Eating healthy foods can help prevent obesity or other serious problems in the long run; many superfoods even demonstrate anti-aging benefits.
You can achieve better nutrition by avoiding over processed foods and following some simple dietary principles. A good place to begin is our guide to the five food groups and the 25 best foods to include in your diet.
Know the Five Food Groups
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a range of key foods in their Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The agency recommends portions from each of the following five food groups:
- Vegetables and legumes
- Grains and cereals
- Protein, including lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
- Dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese
Eating a balanced diet by choosing from each of these five food groups will give your body what it needs to function efficiently. Consider using the CDC’s food diary to record your eating patterns.
The 8 Best Vegetables for Your Diet
Vegetables are packed with essential nutrients (including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber) that play an important role in creating energy to power your day. Consider adding these into your diet:
Asparagus are low in carbohydrates and loaded with vitamin K. This helps with blood clotting, bone metabolism, and blood calcium. It’s also great for your skin.
Carrots contain fiber, vitamin K, and beta carotene, which can help maintain skin health. Studies have shown that a diet high in beta carotene helps reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
These are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, which boosts your immune system. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption and the formation of collagen, and it’s good for your skin.
This superfood provides fiber and protein and is high in vitamins C and K.
They contain vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as potassium, iron, folic acid, and dietary fiber.
This root vegetable has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties and can be added to most dishes. It can also boost immune functions.
This root vegetable is often dark red in color. It gives you an array of nutrients with few calories, and it’s believed to boost your body’s oxygen uptake ability, which can enhance your workouts.
This leafy veggie is high in fiber, vitamins C and K, and many other nutrients.
There are some awesome vegan restaurants around Washington, D.C., serving these in a delicious range of healthy dishes.
6 Nutritious Fruits
Fruits and berries are not only delicious but also high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. They require little to no preparation and are convenient for your lunchbox, starting with:
The humble apple is high in fiber, vitamin C, and many antioxidants.
Avocados are loaded with healthy fats, making them a delicious addition to salads or most meals. They are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
They’re high in vitamins C and B6, manganese, potassium and fiber. Eating a banana can improve your skin and digestion, and help your heart and blood pressure.
Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and have been touted as a superfood.
They’re low in carbohydrates and calories and are highly nutritious, with vitamin C, fiber, and manganese. They’re great for your skin.
They’re a tasty package full of vitamin C and high in fiber and antioxidants.
Eating a good portion of any of these will make you feel full and less likely to overeat. You can also use a food pyramid to guide your daily food choices.
The 3 Best Grains
Whole grains are high in fiber, protein, and B vitamins, with lots of health benefits. You should be filling a quarter of your plate with one of the following grains every day:
This is a relatively inexpensive cereal grain and a great kitchen staple. It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin B1, and magnesium.
They make a good, filling breakfast choice. They have nutrients and potent fibers called beta glucans, which can help heart disease and high cholesterol.
Full of nutrients such as fiber and magnesium, this grain is an excellent source of plant-based protein.
Whole grains are the healthiest choice. Avoid processed or refined grains such as white bread and pasta.
The 7 Best Proteins
Protein is essential for skin health and building and maintaining bones and muscle mass. You should eat some daily, and at least two servings of fish every week. The best sources of protein include:
It’s high in protein and iron, which you need to build muscles and strength.
These are low in fat and calories and high in protein. These are easy to prepare, and healthier cooking options include steaming and grilling.
Grass-fed lamb in particular is high in omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats).
All dairy products are high in calcium, which is essential for bone production. Low-fat cheese is a great source of protein, and a single cheese slice has the same amount of nutrients as an entire cup of milk. Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria, which is good for gut health.
They’re very high in protein, but those watching their cholesterol might want to eat only the egg whites and avoid the yolks.
Fish and Seafood
These are high in omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, which are essential nutrients. Eat at least two portions of fish every week. Oily fish (such as salmon, trout, herring, and sardines) can prevent heart disease. Non-oily fish (haddock, cod, and tuna) are also high in protein and nutrients.
Nuts, seeds and soy products all contain plant-based protein. Legumes and beans such as string beans, kidney beans, and lentils are a good source of protein. They are also high in fiber, making you feel full for longer.
People who don’t eat meat can get protein from fish or plant-based options.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle With DARO Apartments
Following a healthy diet will help you live longer and have a better quality of life. DARO Apartments has an amenity-rich community that blends city sophistication with access to farm-fresh produce, and our Motion Mindset membership includes live virtual cooking lessons to work on better nutrition.
We have apartment communities throughout many of the coveted neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. Contact one of our expert leasing specialists today to find your new home.