15 Health Foods That Taste Better Than Junk Foods
Some people believe that healthy foods are tasteless and boring — but nothing could be further from the truth. Here are 15 health foods that taste better than the most commonly eaten junk foods.
Strawberries are exceptionally juicy and have a sweet, delicious flavor. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese, folate, and potassium, as well as various antioxidants and plant compounds. One cup (145 grams) of strawberries contains 3 grams of fiber and as few as 46 calories. Eating strawberries has been linked to improved heart health, better blood sugar control, and cancer prevention. If you don't like them plain, try dipping the tip of the berry in some melted dark chocolate.
Blueberries are colorful, nutrient-rich, and sweet. One cup (150 grams) of blueberries has only 84 calories but 4 grams of fiber. It’s also rich in many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. Blueberries are an antioxidant superfood that may improve memory in older adults and protect against oxidative damage and chronic diseases. They can be enjoyed either fresh or frozen and are especially delicious mixed with either yogurt or full-fat cream.
3. Dark Chocolate
Many studies show that dark chocolate is incredibly healthy and may reduce your risk of several diseases. It’s loaded with fiber and antioxidants, as well as minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Plant compounds in dark chocolate have been shown to improve blood pressure and brain function, as well as protect against heart disease and the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. To make the most of its health benefits, eat dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70–85%. A piece of dark chocolate is especially delicious when enjoyed with a good cup of coffee.
Almonds are the ultimate crunchy treat. They’re rich in heart-healthy fats, are very nutritious, and require no preparation. Almonds are packed with antioxidants and provide large amounts of fiber, protein, and several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. They may reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol — all of which are risk factors for heart disease. They’re also very filling despite being high in fat and calories. One study showed that almonds increased weight loss by as much as 62% when part of a weight loss diet. If you’re craving something sweet, try putting 2–3 almonds inside a date for an incredibly tasty treat.
These crunchy, salty nuts are absolutely mouthwatering. Pistachios are loaded with heart-healthy fats, high-quality protein, and fiber. They’re also good sources of B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Rich in powerful antioxidants, pistachios have been linked to health benefits, such as improved blood fats and reduced oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammation, and blood sugar levels. Pistachios are very filling and may aid weight maintenance when consumed in moderation. Just make sure not to eat too many of these at one time, as pistachios are very high in calories. A single cup (125 grams) of pistachios may have up to 700 calories.
These deep red, beautiful berries are a delicious and healthy snack. Cherries are low in calories but high in nutrients like fiber and vitamin C. They also contain many antioxidants and plant compounds. Cherries provide nutrients that may protect against conditions like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
Mangoes are a tropical fruit rich in soluble fiber, a wide range of antioxidants, as well as vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C. They’re relatively low in calories and have glycemic index (GI) values ranging from low to medium, which means that they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels. Mangoes are high in plant compounds and antioxidants that may reduce your risk of oxidative damage and many chronic diseases, including cancer. Fresh mangoes are simply delicious, and many people like to add them to breakfast porridges, smoothies, or yogurt.
Many consider cheese one of the most delicious foods. It’s highly nutritious — rich in several vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc. Cheese and other dairy products are linked to improved bone health and may protect against osteoporosis, a disease characterized by bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. There are many types of cheese — all of them consist mainly of protein and fat, and most are relatively high in calories. As a high-protein food, cheese may promote lower blood pressure and increased absorption of minerals. In addition to providing various health benefits, cheese is simply very tasty and filling.
Avocados are an unusual fatty fruit with a smooth and creamy texture. They’re packed with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber and a great source of B vitamins, potassium, copper, and vitamins C, E, and K. Eating avocados is very beneficial for heart health, as it may reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 22% while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.Avocados are also very filling and don’t raise blood sugar levels very much — all of which make them a weight-loss-friendly food.
If you don't like your avocado plain, try adding some salt and pepper. If that doesn't do the trick, you can also create an avocado chocolate pudding by blending 1 small avocado, half a banana, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of dark cocoa. Just be aware that this pudding is rather high in calories and should be reserved for special occasions.
Not many people know that popcorn is a whole grain. It’s relatively low in calories and high in fiber. Whole grains may have numerous health benefits, including improved digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They may also aid weight loss and maintenance. Just be sure to avoid unhealthy popcorn varieties that are loaded with refined oils. Popcorn is healthiest when it’s air-popped or prepared in a pan. Try adding some salt, butter, dark chocolate sprinkles, or cinnamon for a different flavour.
11. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very nutritious, high in fiber, and deliciously sweet. They’re a great source of vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and provide decent amounts of vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes also contain several antioxidants and may reduce oxidative damage, potentially reducing your risk of cancer. One white variety may also help moderate blood sugar levels. Whether they're boiled, baked, or fried, sweet potatoes taste great and are especially delicious with some sour cream or salted butter.
Few healthy dips are as delicious as hummus. It’s made of mashed chickpeas, often mixed with garlic, sesame seed paste (tahini), olive oil, and lemon juice. Chickpeas are rich in protein and fiber and contain a good amount of various vitamins and minerals, including folate, thiamine, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, and copper. They may also improve your blood sugar levels. One study showed that eating 26 ounces (728 grams) of chickpeas per week significantly reduced fasting insulin — an important marker of blood sugar levels. Studies also indicate that chickpeas can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol — a risk factor for heart disease — and potentially improve digestive health.
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that’s both delicious and healthy. It contains high-quality proteins and fats, as well as calcium and several vitamins. Eating yogurt has been associated with both improved bone health and reduced blood pressure. Certain types of yogurt — marketed as probiotic yogurt — contain active cultures of beneficial bacteria. These probiotic bacteria are linked to many health benefits, including improved cholesterol, immunity, digestion, and synthesis of various B and K vitamins in your digestive system. However, be sure to avoid yogurts that are loaded with added sugar. Instead, buy natural yogurt and add some fruit, berries, or muesli for more flavour and a crunchy texture.
14. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a great source of unsaturated fatty acids, protein, and fiber. It’s also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, copper, manganese, vitamin E, phosphorus, and magnesium. Plus, peanuts are very rich in antioxidants — even more than some fruits. They’re very filling, and — despite being high in fat and calories — are not linked to weight gain. In fact, they’re associated with a reduced risk of obesity. However, some people find it hard not to eat too much peanut butter at a time. Try to moderate your portions to avoid excess calorie intake. If you tend to binge on peanut butter, it may be best to avoid it. Also, be sure to choose varieties without added sugar or oils. The ingredient list should only include peanuts and a small amount of salt. Try adding some peanut butter on top of apple slices, celery, or a banana for a tasty snack.
Watermelons are packed with water, nutrients, and vitamins. They’re low in calories and contain powerful plant compounds like lycopene and citrulline. Watermelons and their juice may lower blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Due to their water and fiber content, they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels. Watermelons are incredibly refreshing, and may just be the ultimate snack on a hot summer day.
The Bottom Line
The next time you're craving something tasty, opt for one of the healthy foods in the list above. Not only are they even more delicious than most junk foods, but they will also improve your health and make you feel good about what you're eating.
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