5 Healthiest foods to have in your fridge

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5 Healthiest foods to have in your fridge

When you open your fridge, what foods do you see?  Are there plenty of healthy, nourishing foods or is it more of a nutritional disaster zone of hot dogs, sugary soda, alcohol, mayonnaise, creamy salad dressing and stick margarine or butter? 

If you answered the latter, it’s time to clear out the junk and put in instead foods your body wants and needs to function at its best. If your primary purchase at the grocery store is high calorie, overly processed or sugary foods, you’re not providing your body the vital vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants it craves. 

What foods should you have in your fridge?  Listed below are five examples of healthy foods to always have stocked and ready to use. Having these foods on hand at all times, makes it easy to prepare a quick meal and better yet, you’ll be feeding your body the best it deserves. 

1. Leafy greens

Learn to love the color green by eating a dark leafy green vegetable every day. Examples of leafy greens (not including pale iceberg lettuce) include spinach, kale, mustard and collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, and broccoli. The darker the green and the leafier it is, the better.  The goal is to consume at least five servings of vegetables daily – equivalent to about 2 ½ cups of cooked vegetables, including leafy greens.  Whether you sneak them into a smoothie, serve them in a salad or have them steamed or roasted in the oven, they are a powerhouse of health. Naturally low in calories, leafy greens are also rich in fiber which slows down digestion helping you feel fuller longer and helps control hunger. They are valuable sources of vitamin C, the phytochemicals zeaxanthin and lutein, beta-carotene, and packed with cancer-protective properties.  These compounds can optimize eye health, lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in addition to promoting beautiful hair and skin.

2.  Eggs

If there ever was a perfect food, eggs would be it. Every refrigerator should always have a carton of eggs on hand as this dietary mainstay is not only good for breakfast but can also fill in for a quick lunch or dinner. Look no further than your egg carton for a delicious food that can be served in so many ways – scrambled, poached, hard boiled, or as an omelet.  It’s hard to find a food packing as much high quality protein (6-7 grams in a large egg), antioxidants, essential nutrients for eye health, muscle strength, brain function, that is affordable and provides only 70 calories and 5 grams of fat.

3.  Berries     

 If a grocery store advertisement read - “Today’s special: a food that is low in calories, no fat, full of fiber, may help prevent diseases, aids in weight loss and taste delicious” – would you buy it?  I would hope so as this ad is talking about one of the most healthful foods nature provides – berries. 

Berries are just about the perfect food to eat, whether fresh or frozen, and the variety to choose from is outstanding – blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, and strawberries Berries have been around as a food source for centuries.  Today they continue that role, but in addition to their attractive appearance and delicate taste, it’s their health-boosting ability distinguishing them from other fruits - their rich and diverse antioxidant power. 

Antioxidants reduce damage due to oxygen often caused by free radicals.  Antioxidants include ascorbic acid (vitamin C), carotenoids, vitamin E and phenolic compounds, all found in berries with vitamin C and phenolic compounds being particularly abundant.  Phenolic compounds include phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins and resveratrol. Berries antioxidant power is that special boost in keeping us healthy.

4.  Lowfat Greek yogurt

If you haven’t figured out by now the amazing health benefits of Greek yogurt, then you’re missing out on one of the best foods you can be eating.  This calcium-rich concoction loves your bones by offering up a rich supply of calcium, protein and vitamin D.  Calcium and vitamin D in particular are crucial for maintaining healthy bone mass.  Calcium helps to solidify bone making it strong while vitamin D’s job is to support sufficient calcium levels in the blood making sure our bones absorb calcium.  

Yogurt also loves your gut.  The “good bacteria” yogurt contains helps with the balance and diversity of bacteria in your intestines or gut.  A diverse ecosystem of gut bacteria helps digest our food, destroys harmful microorganisms, produces vitamins, boosts immune functioning and reduces stomach issues of diarrhea and pain. Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein to maintain muscle mass, vitamin B-12 necessary for forming red blood cells, brain functioning and DNA synthesis and a good source of potassium helping to lower blood pressure.

5.  Lean meat

Chicken breasts, lean beef, or fatty fish, are all excellent sources of high-quality protein, iron, zinc, many B-vitamins, and selenium.

When choosing chicken breasts, select those with the skin removed.  Naturally low in fat and sodium, skinless chicken breasts’ versatility make them easy to incorporate into a healthy meal when boiled, broiled, roasted, or grilled.  It’s best to avoid frying or sauteeing the meat in butter or oil which only adds unhealthy fat and calories.

The beef of today is different than the beef of yesteryear.  Improvement in cattle breeding, production practices, feed type and amounts, as well as improved trimming practices, have led to more than 60 percent of beef cuts found in the supermarket to be lean when cooked with visible fat trimmed.   To be considered lean as defined by the government, a 3 ounce serving of cooked beef must have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol

 Anyone with any worries of heart health would be wise to consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and one of the very best sources is found in fatty fish.   Since the human body does not produce significant amounts of EPA or DHA on its own, you must get these important nutrients from the foods you eat and the supplements you consume.  When looking for the heart health benefits of EPA and DHA, go straight to the source of them – they are naturally found in marine sources including fatty fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, shellfish and marine algae.