20 Most-Healthful Foods in your Grocery Store

by Catherine Haug, February 6, 2012

With all the talk about what NOT to eat, perhaps you’d like to know what is good to eat, that you can find in your local grocer or farmers market. LiveStrong.com provides a list of 20 foods. Many of these foods help fight cancer, but then I think all natural, unprocessed foods play a role in fighting cancer, so I don’t focus on that. See also my earlier post, inspired by an article from Dr. Mercola: Most Healthful Foods.

Here’s the LiveStrong list below, with their information and my own comments (in purple) to make them even more healthful.

The 20 Best Foods in Your Grocery Store

The original list is by Susy Sedano for LiveStrong.com. She presents her list in alphabetical order. Cat’s comments/additional information are in purple.

  • Almonds: They provide mono-unsaturated fat (as do most nuts), certain vitamins, and also important trace minerals like copper, iron, and zinc (but you need to sprout the nuts to be able to absorb the minerals). Buy them raw and sprout them at home, then lightly toast them in the oven at a low setting, if desired.
  • Asparagus: Did you know this vegetable grows wild in our area? At the store, be sure to buy them while the tips are still good. Asparagus provides lots of folic acid and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
  • Avocados: This mono-unsaturated fat-rich fruit provides all the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) as well.
  • Berries: This includes blueberries, cranberries, huckleberries, blackberries, raspberries, and currants. Those that grow wild & native in our area are the best. Strawberries aren’t a true berry but provide many of the same benefits. Berries are loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamin C.
  • Bell Peppers: Whether you go with green, red, yellow or orange, they are all rich in anti-oxidants and provide free-radical scavengers. However, as members of the nightshade family, some people need to avoid them, and for the rest of us, moderation is advised.
  • Black Beans: These provide both fiber and protein, many minerals, and also anti-oxidants and vitamins, but to get maximum benefit, it is best to sprout or at least presoak them overnight, before cooking. And don’t ignore other healthful legumes such as chickpeas (garbanzos), white beans, red beans, Anasazi beans, lentils and so on.
  • Broccoli: This member of the cabbage family provides vitamins C and K, and also indole and sulfurophane which help with proper estrogen balance, to protect from estrogen-related cancers.
  • Brussels Sprouts: These gems provide many of the same benefits as other members of the cabbage family, including vitamins A, B6, C, E and K and the mineral selenium, which is beneficial for blood sugar normalization.
  • Butternut Squash: Like most winter squash, this variety is high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
  • Chicken Breast: This is touted as providing lean protein, but I think this is overrated. Most chicken at your grocer is raised in a CAFO, which is inhumane and doesn’t produce the healthiest birds. And for maximum health benefit, I believe chicken is best cooked with both the skin and bone, and the dark meat is just as good as breast meat. See my earlier posts: What Happened to the Dark Meat? and  GMO Chicken; Will That be Coming to a Store Near You? for lots more. In addition to chicken meat, I would also add other meats from pasture-raised animals and wild game.
  • Edamame: This fresh/frozen soybean still with its edible shell is popular in Japan as a source of protein, vitamins C and E, anti-oxidants and isoflavones. However, there is quite a controversy over soy’s purported health benefits, and some believe it is actually harmful. Best to be moderate in your consumption of this food.
  • Eggs: Livestrong puts this at the top of the list for ultimate super foods, and I couldn’t agree more. Eggs, along with raw milk, are nature’s complete foods, designed to provide complete nutrition to offspring. To get maximum benefit from eggs, eat the whites and yolks together. Yes, whites are high in cholesterol, but the yolks provide lecithin which is essential for proper metabolism of cholesterol. Also be sure to select eggs from a local farmer who raises them in pasture, for maximum nutritional benefit. Most commercial eggs at your grocer come from CAFOs. See my related posts on eggs: Eggs: a Buyers’ GuideReport on Organic Eggs,  Banning Battery Cages for Hens, and Raising Chickens.
  • Flaxseed: This seed provides an abundant source of fiber, magnesium, calcium, lignans (a type of phyto-estrogen and anti-oxidant) and the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). However, to get this benefit you should grind your flaxseeds first. They are low in phytates, so simply mixing them with some yogurt or other slightly acidic medium is enough to make the minerals available for absorption.
  • Garlic: This member of the onion family is another food that should be high on the list of superfoods. It supports the body’s metabolism of cholesterol and triglycerides, helping to keep these in proper balance. It protects blood cells and blood vessels from inflammatory and oxidative stress. However, to get the maximum benefit from garlic, it is best to eat it raw; crushed and added to salad dressings is an excellent way to eat raw garlic. However, roasted in the skin, is the tastiest way to eat garlic, just not as healthful as raw.
  • Onions: The entire onion family (onion, shallot, scallion, garlic, leek) are high in sulfur containing compounds. Sulfur is an essential mineral that helps maintain healthy joints, boosts the immune system, aids in fat digestion and absorption; it’s needed to make bile acids,  helps regulate blood sugar, and helps maintain oxygen balance for proper brain function. See Advanced Natural Medicine: Health Benefits of Sulfur for more.
  • Spinach (and other dark leafy greens such as kale, chard): Rich in calcium and other minerals, and vitamin K, these greens are best prepared by lightly braising, as cooking in oil and water breaks down the oxalates that bind the minerals, so they can be absorbed. However, baby spinach is delicious raw in salads. Greens are also beneficial juiced raw.
  • Salmon: This tasty fish provides lean protein and packs a hearty dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (especially the longer-chain versions DHA and EPA) essential for heart-health. However, only wild caught salmon provides much of the omega-3s. The pink color of wild salmon indicates its healthfulness. Farm raised salmon has food coloring added to make it look like wild salmon, but does not provide the same benefit.
  • Sweet Potatoes: They’re not only loaded with complex carbohydrates and phytochemicals, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, beta-carotene, as well as many other vitamins. Note that what we call ‘yams’ are actually just a darker orange sweet potato. True yams are a different tuber altogether.
  • Tomatoes:  Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, one of the carotenoids, which is a powerful anti-oxidant and free-radical scavenger. Another nightshade, this fruit should be consumed in moderation if nightshades are a problem for you.
  • Yogurt: Dairy yogurt is rich in the minerals calcium and magnesium present in the dairy milk, made more absorbable by the culturing or fermenting of the milk to make yogurt. it is also an excellent source of probiotics, provided it has NOT been pasteurized after culturing. Also, its best purchased as plain, unsweetened yogurt, then sweetened with honey or stevia at home. I like it just as it is, without adding a sweetener – I just add fresh berries or other fruit, or mix it into a fruit and protein smoothie. Non-dairy yogurts are also available; of these I prefer coconut-milk yogurt, as I mostly avoid soy products. Greek yogurt is especially popular now. I make my own by adding a bit of honey then let it strain through cheesecloth for an hour or so, so that some of the whey drips off, leaving the familiar thicker product known as Greek yogurt. Kefir is another excellent cultured milk product. And of course, I would add raw milk from a trusted local dairy farmer who keeps his cows in pasture. Note that Kalispell Kreamery milk is NOT raw, because it is illegal to sell raw milk in Montana.

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