Everyone knows about the importance of a healthy diet, but actually pursuing it may seem difficult, expensive or cumbersome. Many are worried that healthy food is less tasty or enjoyable. In reality, eating healthier can be quite simple. More nutritious often means more flavor, as well.
Choose Healthier Vegetables
Vegetables are always healthy, but by selecting the most nutrient-rich choices you can get more flavonoids and other beneficial phytochemicals while eating the same amount.
- Instead of normal onion choose red onion. The anthocyanidins (a type of flavonoid) in red onion that create its beautiful purple color are also powerful antioxidants. Red onion is a little sweeter and milder than normal onion, but can be substituted in most dishes.
- Instead of ordinary carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, choose the purple varieties to get the highest dose of beneficial phytochemicals.
- Russet potatoes, although not purple, are also higher in antioxidants than most other varieties of potatoes.
- Choose other types of lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce. The darkest greens are the most nutritious, but even butterhead lettuce contains up to three times as much of some nutrients as iceberg lettuce.
Eat Less Fat and Healthier Fats
- Eat other kinds of nuts instead of peanuts. Most nuts have a much better fat profile. Walnuts and pecans are fairly high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well.
- Instead of mayo or sour cream based dips, try hummus, guacamole and baba ghanoush (a delicious Middle Eastern dip made of eggplant). They also tend to be fairly high in fat – though by making hummus and baba ghanoush at home you can control the amount of fat -, but much better kind of fat.
- Instead of cream and butter in sauces and other cooking, try some almond or cashew butter. They add richness and creamy flavor similar to dairy cream, but provide a healthier fatty acid profile as well as being highly nutritious.
Avoid Simple Starches
- Instead of rice try bulgur, a nutty whole wheat alternative, or even better, quinoa or amaranth, grains which are extremely nutritious and also very tasty.
- Even switching from normal white rice or jasmine rice to basmati rice can make a difference. Basmati rice contains different kinds of starches than other types of white rice. As a result it has a significantly lower glycemic index, meaning it sustains satiety better and does not cause as abrupt changes in blood sugar.
- Or just skip rice and pasta altogether – there are healthier alternatives to them.
Other Simple Ways to Eat Healthier
- Instead of microwave popcorn, make your own on the stove. Microwave popcorn bags may leech the carcinogenic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid into the popcorn. Also, chronic exposure to the artificial butter flavor used by many brands has been connected to a serious lung disease.
- A healthy diet does not feature large amounts of sugar, but brown sugar is a much smarter choice than refined white sugar. Brown sugar actually contains large amounts of e.g. iron and calcium (though it is just as high in calories as white sugar).
- Avoid canned food, which has lost a large part of its nutrients and often contains large amounts of salt and additives. If saving time or always having ingredients on hand is important, use frozen food instead. Freezing preserves most nutrients – and flavor – very well.