It’s officially the New Year and now that the holiday season has ended, many are left reeling about giving up on their nutritional diets during the past few weeks and opting for one fit for Mr. Claus himself. The New Year brings about many new resolutions for weight management and eating healthy, but with dozens of fad diets it’s hard to tell what is really best to include in your diet. Here are some great power foods to start including in your diet to not only help you shed that holiday weight but to make you healthier overall!

 

  •  Dark Chocolate: While it may not be beneficial to your health to overindulge in dark chocolate, having a small amount a day (about the size of six Hershey kisses) can help improve your overall heart health, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain. The richer and more cocoa the chocolate has, the better. Just remember portion control!

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  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is considered part of the food pyramid to the Mediterranean diet and it’s easy to see why after reading its health benefits such as helping to lower cholesterol and possibly helping to protect against some cancers and other chronic health conditions and anti-inflammatory factors as well. Again, it is important to remember portion control with olive oil as it holds a lot of calories.
  • Mushrooms:  Mushrooms are loaded with an antioxidant called ergothioneine, which helps cells in the body to ward off damage from dangerous molecules, which cause illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Mushrooms also help to fill you up more and are a fraction of the calories and fat compared to other dishes with meats. So swap in mushrooms instead of meat in your favorite pasta sauce to help make your meal a little healthier and filling.
  • Beans: Beans are high in protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, and potassium. Basically beans are a powerful and magical fruit that are a great addition to any diet. Scientists also say they act as antioxidants to protect you against heart disease and certain cancers, especially red and black beans.
  • Apples: An apple a day keeps the doctor away along with a growing waistline, as apples contain 4 grams of fiber, which can help to prevent weight gain and keep you feeling fuller throughout the day. Apples also contain antioxidants that help to prevent metabolic syndrome.
  • Tea: Studies show that drinking tea on a regular basis can help to prevent cancer and heart disease, help reduce the risk of stroke, obesity, arthritis and diabetes along with having antioxidants that protect the body from the effects of aging. With all of these health benefits and all the different types of tea, whether hot or cold, ditch the coffee or can of pop for some tea instead.

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  • Avocados: Avocados contain nutrients that are heart healthy along with helping to lower cholesterol. They are also a good source of potassium and even contain nutrients that can help protect against breast cancer. Try using avocados on your nachos with guacamole or as a nice and healthy addition to your favorite sandwich.
  • Blueberries: Though they are small, they pack a tough punch of antioxidants having the highest level of all commonly consumed fruits. They also include 3.6 grams of fiber per cup, which is a necessity for any healthy diet. Sprinkle a nice spoon full over your oatmeal or yogurt or even on the go for a nice afternoon snack.

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  • Eggs: Though eggs often get a bad rep, they are actually extremely healthy and even more so, keep you feeling full for longer, which helps in weight loss. Find new ways to spice up your salad or even omelet with this delicious and versatile food!
  • Lentils: Lentils are great if you want to flatten your stomach as they help to prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat. So make sure to pick up some lentil soup or even add them to pasta sauce to help make your meals healthier and keep you feeling fit.
  • Kale: Kale seems to be the new craze in nutrition and it’s easy to see why with its high dose of fiber along with providing you with a healthy dose of iron and calcium. The fun part about kale is that it is very versatile, so you can cook kale with beans or quinoa or sauté with spices or even olive oil for a delicious flavor fit for any taste bud!

With any diet it’s important to make sure you are staying healthy and strong while slimming your waistline. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year! Need some new healthy foods to add to your pantry? Make sure to stop by your local Sparkle Market for all of your healthy and nutritional food needs!

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