Plants don’t just make up the base of your salad; they make up the base of your healthy diet, too! It truly is incredible how much good a diet including a hearty serving of plants can do for your health, mental and physical, but the thousands of options can make it difficult to know which ones to choose. To really reel in those healthy benefits, we’ve got our recommendations for the 5 you should try to eat every day.
Easy to travel with and easier to enjoy, chia seeds pack a lot of nutrition into tiny little pods! Up to 60% of the oils found in these plants are essential fatty acids that play important roles in heart and cellular health, but they’re also full of fiber and important amino acids!
Enjoying this super-veggie is super easy! You can grind it up to add to smoothies and salads or soak them overnight for a delicious alternative to high-carb oatmeal!
Dark Leafy Greens
Greens are one of the most important foods that you could include in your healthy diet. They provide everything from minerals to fiber to phytonutrients only available through plants (or a greens supplement). The nutrients found in leafy greens such as kale, collard, greens, and spinach all contribute to healthy-aging, healthy bones and skin, and even help support cognitive function!
To mix it up, don’t limit yourself to one type of green. Switch it up from romaine, to arugula, to red leaf lettuce, to kale to keep you from getting bored and ensure you’re getting the widest range of phytonutrients! Also, don’t forget about options such as sauteeing or grilling certain greens and dressing them up with healthy toppings!
Lentils are a staple in most plant-based diets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add them into yours, to0! These plants are versatile, budget-friendly and healthy enough to add to your favorite lunch + dinner recipes without worry. There’s plenty of different types including:
- Brown: These are the most widely eaten type with an earthy flavor, and they’re perfect for soups + stews.
- Puy: Similar in color to brown lentils, these have more of a peppery taste
- Green: Green lentils vary in size but taste similar to puy lentils (and are much cheaper).
- Yellow and red: These nutty flavored lentils are great for quick cooking since they’re split.
- Beluga: These lentils resemble black caviar, and are great as a base to warm salads.
Add a half-cup of cooked lentils to your favorite soups and enjoy over 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of dietary fiber, and switch up the types you use to enjoy the different nutrients in each! How’s that for a satisfying, healthy, and wallet-friendly way to fill up on a cold January night?
This bright and vibrant plant is one we’ve grown to love over the last year or so. They contain nutrients like folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and iron while providing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits! Still not convinced? Check out the nutritional profile below:
- Calories: 44
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI
- Folate: 20% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI
- Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
- Manganese: 16% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
The good news doesn’t stop there, especially for you gym-goers who could use the natural pre-workout abilities of this amazing plant! Beets can be incorporated into a wide variety of meals from bread, cakes, burgers, soups, and more.
Containing calcium, vitamins E and B-6, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and folate, these fiber-rich nuts are a must-have in your daily diet! Not only have they been shown to improve gut health by affecting your microbiome, but they have also been shown to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol!
Worried about the calories? Several studies have found that regularly eating a healthy portion of nuts is not associated with weight gain (read: you still can’t eat the entire container). Since these nuts are filled with fats and fiber, you end up feeling full and satisfied much sooner than if you were to eat the same calories-worth of something like bread or chips. For example, one study found that those who ate two+ servings of nuts per week had a 31% lower risk of weight gain compared to those who never or rarely ate them. More surprisingly, even when study participants added nuts to their diet as they chose to do so didn’t lead to weight gain!
Do you eat any of these plants on a regular basis?
Tell us which ones you love (or hate) in the comments below!