You already know that a balanced diet is important, for controlling your weight and staying healthy in general. But the nutrients in your foods can serve another, very important purpose: They support your immune system, and help to ward off serious health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more.
Those effects are mostly due to the antioxidants contained in foods. Antioxidants are trace nutrients, naturally present in many foods, which reduce cell damage. And since there are so many different types of antioxidants, each with their own purpose, eating a widely varied diet is the best way to ensure that you’re getting enough of them. But since some foods contain more antioxidants than others, here is a list of the most nutrient-dense options that you should include in your regular diet as often as possible:
- Dark chocolate
- Brazil nuts
- Collard greens
- Red cabbage
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut (or other dark orange) squash
- Whole grains
- Rainbow trout
- Green tea
You might have noticed a trend, with regard to the fruits and vegetables on this list. Brightly colored produce, such as berries or sweet potatoes, have the highest concentrations of beneficial nutrients. That’s why many nutritionists urge clients to “eat the rainbow” daily. This means that every day, you should try to eat dense leafy greens, along with fruits or veggies that are red, orange, and yellow, and throw in a little purple or blue for good measure.
Add the other items on this list, and you’re well on your way to a nutrient-dense diet that will support your health in the long term.
But of course, since there is no magical fountain of youth, diet only goes so far in protecting you. Remember to continue scheduling regular screenings and check-ups with your primary care provider, and follow their instructions to ward off serious health problems.