Written by: Kyle Gonzalez, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
With all of the genetically modified and processed foods out there, it's important to find your go-to healthy foods. This can be challenging when even healthy foods can be modified, in some way, shape, or form. When navigating your diet, you must create structure, balance, and flexibility with your choices. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right foods for you, which include price, preference, location, and accessibility. Make sure you are realistic since the best foods for you are the ones that fit your budget, goals, and lifestyle. Explore different foods and be adaptable. The world offers a plethora of options, so find what works for you. Here are five foods I love to incorporate in my diet every day and why you should too!!
First up is avocados. This fruit (yes, it's a fruit) is extremely versatile and incredibly nutritious. For starters, avocados are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like oleic acid, which can reduce inflammation. Avocados are also high in antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) and fiber which protect your gut microbiome and help you absorb key nutrients. One 3.5oz (100g) serving (half an avocado) provides more potassium than a banana and over 20 other vitamins and nutrients. Couple that with improving your lipid profile, and you have a major superfood. Make some guacamole, spread it on toast, or pop half an avocado in a smoothie to mix it into your diet and reap the benefits
Summary: One 3.5oz (100g) serving contains about 160 calories, 2g of protein, 15g of healthy fats, 7g of fiber, over 20 vitamins and minerals, and no sodium or cholesterol.
The blueberry is small but packs a nutritious punch. The blueberry offers one of, if not the highest antioxidant capacity out of all the popular fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants include powerful flavonoids that can protect you against aging, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes while also boosting memory and cognitive function. While reducing oxidative stress is the main benefit, blueberries still provide essential vitamins, nutrients, and lots of fiber. Eat them frozen or fresh for a sweet pop, and know that you are protecting your heart and brain in the process.
Summary: One cup (148g) of blueberries contains about 84 calories, 15g of carbs, 4g of fiber, and high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese.
Where do we start with spinach? This dark leafy green pretty much does it all from a nutrient standpoint. Spinach is a low-carb, high-fiber vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Like blueberries, spinach is packed with antioxidants that fight oxidative stress and lower the risk for several diseases. Spinach also contains key plant compounds like lutein, kaempferol, and quercetin which can reduce your risk for cancer, decrease inflammation, and improve eye health. Whether you throw it in salads, smoothies, or sauté it as a side, there is no doubt that spinach should be a staple in your diet.
Summary: 3.5oz (100g) of spinach contains about 23 calories, 3g of protein, 2g of fiber, and key vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid (vitamin B9), iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Almonds are one of the most popular nuts in the world and for good reason. Almonds offer a very diverse nutrient profile ranging from healthy fats to key vitamins to protein and fiber. Like others on this list, almonds have lots of antioxidants that mostly reside in the brown layer of skin. They are one of the best sources of vitamin E, which has been linked to lowering the risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Although they can be high in calories, healthy fats, high protein, and antioxidants help lower blood pressure, improve your lipid profile, and control your blood sugar. Almonds are definitely in the superfood category so, make sure to grab a handful or throw them in a shake when you can while also leaving the skin on.
Summary: a 1oz (28g) serving of almonds contains about 161 calories, 3g of carbs, 3.5g of fiber, 6g of protein, 14g of fat (9g monounsaturated), and many vitamins and minerals including, vitamin E, vitamin B2, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Flaxseeds are one of the oldest crops in the world. Originating thousands of years ago, this nutrient powerhouse offers wide-ranging benefits for overall health and wellness. From fiber and omega-3s to lignans and protein this antioxidant-packed oilseed is small but impactful. Flaxseeds are known to be one of the richest sources of lignans which have powerful cancer-fighting properties. Along with the lignans, the many nutrients in flaxseeds can help with high blood pressure, blood sugar control, heart health, and digestive issues. To round it out flaxseeds offer a healthy serving of key vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that are often neglected in the standard American diet. To get the most out of this mighty seed, make sure to grind it up or buy it pre-ground or milled (if not ground, the whole seed can pass right through your digestive system). Flaxseeds are super versatile and can be mixed in as a topping, added to shake or water, and even incorporated as an egg or flour substitute when baking. No matter how you do it, it would be wise to get flaxseed into your everyday diet.
Summary: One tablespoon (7g) of ground flaxseeds contains about 3g of fat (High in ALA), 2g of carbs, 1.3g of protein, 2g of fiber, and several vitamins and minerals including (thiamine, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, vitamin B6, folate, and iron. Flaxseeds also contain several beneficial plant compounds (phytosterols, polyphenols, and lignans).
With all the bad out there, these foods are cheap, accessible, and easy to incorporate into your diet. They are loaded with essential nutrients and can lower your disease risk, improve cognitive function, boost gut health, and protect your body from oxidative stress. Remember to explore what works and what doesn't for your lifestyle, goals, and budget. I am not a registered dietitian and everyone’s needs are different, so make sure you get what’s right for you and consult with a professional if needed. Stick to high-quality natural options when you can and find healthy alternatives when needed. The foundation of a healthy body and mind lies in our nutritional behaviors, so always be mindful of your choices!
Kyle Gonzalez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kyle Gonzalez is a highly educated and experienced integrative health and wellness professional. Following a successful career as a Division I basketball player, Kyle earned multiple certifications within the performance, health, and wellness fields before getting into coaching. After obtaining his Masters in Kinesiology, he gained experience across several different domains including teaching at the graduate level, personal training, developing performance coaches, and serving as the director at several prominent gyms. Throughout his career, he's gotten the opportunity to work with and learn from clients ranging from professional athletes to high-level executives, elderly clients to youth students and even Hollywood stars. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, ExtraTV, RealSimple, and Prevention.com. He is the creator of The Vitality System, an integrative platform that empowers people to optimize their health and wellness, build sustainable habits, and create lasting change. He's currently a top performance coach and manager at a fast growing fitness tech start-up, Future, based in San Francisco.