There’s no doubt that everyone can benefit from saving a little money while improving their health in a big way. Many of us don’t have the time and energy to find out which essential vitamins and minerals we’re lacking so why not consume a smaller variety of foods that are high in more than 1 nutrient in order to save yourself (and your wallet) the trouble?
With exams ending recently, there’s no doubt that my health has suffered with all of those late nights spent studying and snacking on whatever I could find. Now that I have time to rest, taking care of my health can be put back to the top of my to-do list and I can do so by keeping these nutrient dense foods as a default on my grocery list.
What are nutrients? Nutrients are essential vitamins (like A, B, C, D, E, and K) and minerals (like potassium, calcium, zinc, etc.) needed for the body to grow and maintain its health.
Some nutrients, known as micronutrients, are needed in small amounts for the body to function. Other nutrients, known as macronutrients, are needed in large amounts in order to provide us with energy.
It’s time you head over to the bulk section for something other than candy – almonds, cashews, and brazil nuts. Together these have 7 essential minerals and they also help to lower cholesterol. However, nuts are high in calories so avoid eating more than 2 handfuls and try to look for ones with less or even no added salt.
NUTRITION FACTS: Almonds and cashews provide our bodies with calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc while brazil nuts provide the body with selenium.
Salmon is a fatty fish that contains the most Omega-3 necessary for the body to function. Eating wild salmon is preferred to farmed salmon as it lowers the risk for dementia, depression, and heart disease.
NUTRITION FACTS: Salmon is high in all of the B-Vitamins (there’s 8), magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Since it has nutrients that play such an important role in helping the body to function, it’s recommended to eat at least 3 ounces of it (the size of a deck of cards) at least twice a week.
Not only is kale high in vitamins and minerals, but it’s also a good source of fibre and antioxidants. While this leafy green has a bitter taste, putting it in smoothies or making it into chips makes it much easier to consume than just making a salad out of it. If you’re really not into the taste, baby kale is still high in nutrients, but is less bitter.
NUTRITION FACTS: Vitamin C, K, A and B6 are found in kale while the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese are also found in this trending superfood.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Like other fruits and veggies that are bright orange-red, sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A or into an antioxidant after it’s eaten. This reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and it also slows down aging.
NUTRITION FACTS: Though extremely high in vitamin A, sweet potatoes also have vitamin C and B6, manganese, potassium, and small amounts of iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin E, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and folate (vitamin B9).
It’s important to remember that even though there’s only small amounts of certain nutrients, sometimes that’s all your body needs as these are micronutrients.
5. Brussel Sprouts
While they may not be a favourite vegetable to many people, brussel sprouts are a high source of vitamins and they also help to prevent osteoporosis, lower the risk of cancer, manage diabetes, and protect against UV damage to your eyes.
NUTRITION FACTS: Brussel sprouts are highest in vitamin K and C, which is important in helping the body absorb calcium and form collagen to reduce wrinkles, respectively. They also have a significant amount of vitamin A, B6, folate (B9), potassium, and manganese.
Together, strawberries and raspberries are packed with a large variety of essential vitamins and minerals. They also provide further benefits as raspberries help the body absorb calcium, regulate blood sugar, and improve fat and carb metabolism, while strawberries help your skin to glow, lower blood pressure, and protect the heart.
NUTRITION FACTS: Raspberries provide a significant amount of vitamin C, and manganese in addition to fibre. They also have small amounts of folate (vitamin B9), vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and copper in addition to biotin. On the other hand, strawberries are highest in vitamin C followed by magnesium, folate, potassium, fibre, copper, and iodine.
Though eating raw spinach in salads is common, eating cooked spinach provides more vitamin A and this keeps your vision, immune system and reproductive system strong.
NUTRITION FACTS: Spinach is highest in potassium and is also a high source of vitamin A, K, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, calcium and iron.
8. Bok Choy
Bok choy is known to help some of the body’s most important parts to function and this includes the heart, kidneys, and muscles. This vegetable is beneficial in a variety of ways and its high water content makes it good for juicing and adding to smoothies.
NUTRITION FACTS: Bok choy is highest in vitamin A, C, and K, but it also has significant amounts of folate (vitamin B9), niacin (vitamin B3), calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, selenium, and potassium.
While broccoli is high in nutrients, it is also high in fibre, helps the body produce red blood cells, and keeps the immune system healthy.
NUTRITION FACTS: Cooked broccoli provides high amounts of vitamin C and K in addition to vitamin A, folate (vitamin B9), riboflavin (vitamin B2), potassium, and copper.
If leafy greens aren’t your thing, you can snack on raw cauliflower or add cooked cauliflower to your meals. While this vegetable has a variety of different vitamins and minerals, it also has fibre and can be prepared in a bunch of different ways.
NUTRITION FACTS: Cauliflower is most high in vitamin C followed by vitamin K, folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12. It also has small amounts of protein, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and magnesium.
It’s important to keep in mind that how you cook these foods alters the amount of nutrients they provide. More importantly, people of different ages and weights require different amounts of nutrients so always keep in mind the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals before you eat these nutrient-packed fruits, vegetables, and nuts (especially if you’re pregnant or elderly).
With that being said, you can’t go wrong with picking up these 10 foods whenever you can’t figure out what to buy at the grocery store. What makes them even better is that a few of them can always be incorporated into every meal of the day so you know you’re getting essential nutrients every time you eat.