If we’re talking about maintaining a varied and balanced diet, there are certain nutrients that should not be overlooked. There will also be others whose consumption is advisable to moderate, and this may vary in specific cases where, due to health reasons, certain foods cannot be consumed directly, such as sugar in a patient with diabetes.
But in general terms, more and more specialists discourage demonizing foods or food groups, such as pasta, for example, due to ample evidence that restrictive diets have negative effects on overall health, especially when aiming to lose weight.
In this sense, on Nutritionist Day, Buzzlushes listed the 15 foods that must be included in the diet.
It is one of the richest sources of proteins, an essential macronutrient for health, according to experts from the Harvard School of Public Health. “Proteins are key allies to consider when it comes to nutrition,” the experts emphasized in a recent publication.
They highlighted that red meats, such as beef, not only provide high-quality protein but are also a rich source of nutrients such as zinc and iron. Lean cuts should be prioritized.
This food is a source of high-quality proteins, provides vitamins and minerals, and also has bioactive compounds that benefit cardiovascular health. However, like other foods, it has been accused of increasing cholesterol and harming health.
A large analysis from Harvard University involving 215,000 people found that eating one egg per day is not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Milk (and dairy in general)
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are another great source of protein and also provide calcium and large amounts of other essential nutrients.
“Cow’s milk contains lactose (milk sugar), high-quality proteins, and vitamins and minerals essential for keeping our bones healthy (such as vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium),” said nutrition and diabetes specialist Marianela Aguirre Ackermann (MN 151867) when consulted by this media. She added, “Moreover, it is an ideal food to add vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids (omega-3) through enrichment or fortification.”
“It is a very nutritious food that provides energy, proteins, and micronutrients. It is one of the most complete foods there is, and it is the first food for humans at birth,” she further explained.
It is one of the so-called “superfoods” that offers many health benefits. It is a source of minerals such as iodine, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins like vitamin B6. “The properties of garlic are mainly based on the sulfur compounds it contains (allicin, allyl/diallyl sulfides),” says the Spanish Society of Nutrition.
Among its multiple advantages, garlic has the ability to lower cholesterol levels, prevent the formation of clots in the arteries, improve circulation, help regulate blood pressure, and strengthen the immune system.
So, when adding garlic to your meals for flavor enhancement, consider it twice, and add a little more; your immune system will be grateful.
They are rich, nutritious, available all year round, easy to prepare, and economical. Some of the most common and therefore easier to incorporate into the diet are beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils.
Legumes also have low fat content, no cholesterol, and are rich in potassium, iron, and magnesium. They additionally include beneficial fats, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber. They are a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.
Technically, it is a seed, but it is known and classified as a whole grain. Quinoa contains nine essential amino acids, is an excellent food in weight control diets due to its satiating capacity and low-fat content. Approximately 8 grams of protein can be found in a cup of cooked quinoa.
In addition, it has good amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, iron, thiamine, and folate, and is considered a gluten-free cereal.
Consuming fruits means incorporating water, fiber, a large number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that prevent cellular aging. They also provide a feeling of satiety for a longer time.
Nutritionists emphasize the advantages of consuming seasonal fruits because this is when they are at their optimal ripeness and are also more affordable.
And regarding one of the most common myths about this food, claiming that they make you gain weight due to their sugar content, nutritionist Romina clarified: “The sugar in fruits is called fructose and is not the same as the free sugar added to foods by the food industry.”
To achieve a healthy diet, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming at least 400 grams or five servings of fruits and vegetables per day because it reduces the risk of developing non-communicable diseases and helps ensure an adequate daily intake of dietary fiber.
According to the American Heart Association, the ideal combination is two pieces of fruit and three pieces of vegetables per day for a better quality of life.
“Vegetables provide fibers, substrates for the bacteria in the intestinal microbiota to ferment and generate short-chain fatty acids, which are fundamental anti-inflammatory components for our entire system,” said nutritionist María Cecilia Ponce (MN 3362). “They also contain minerals, vitamins, and trace elements, which are essential for the good metabolism of other nutrients and cellular health.”
These are essential nutrients that strengthen the intestinal microbiome, impacting the immune system and nutrient absorption.
Probiotics were defined by the WHO as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, promote health benefits in the host organism.”
The most common types of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and they are found in yogurt, kefir, kimchi, fermented soy, and kombucha.
10. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, known for its numerous health benefits. Some of the contributions include a high content of antioxidants that help combat diseases.
About 14% of this oil consists of saturated fats, while 11% is polyunsaturated, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, representing 73% of the total oil content.
Fish is low in calories and a good source of high-quality protein. Additionally, it provides various vitamins and minerals. Nutritionists recommend regular fish consumption in a balanced diet, at least three times a week. This is because it is one of the most nutritious animal-origin foods.
Fish acts as a complete multivitamin, especially from the B-complex (B1, B2, B3, and B12), D, A, and E. The latter two have antioxidant properties and protect against certain degenerative or cardiovascular diseases.
Vitamin D, on the other hand, promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate in the intestine and kidneys. Its fat content is one of its outstanding characteristics, thus preventing heart and artery diseases.
Nuts contain plant proteins that are very good, antioxidants, B-group vitamins, and beneficial minerals.”It’s a combination that makes it one of the most life-extending elements in food,” according to nutrition specialist Alberto Cormillot.
They belong to two families: oilseeds, plants from which oil can be extracted from their seeds or fruits. Here, you find almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts. And the starchy ones are plants whose seeds contain plenty of starch, including cashews.
Among all fruits, berries stand out for being full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help retain memory. Additionally, the fiber content helps feed microbes in the intestine to reduce brain inflammation.
Nutritionist Emily Lachtrupp, licensed in Dietetics and Nutrition with a Master’s in Dietetics from the University of Vermont in the United States, suggested choosing from a variety of red, blue, and black berries. Strawberries, for example, are rich in flavonoids and may help delay cognitive decline, while blueberries contain different types of flavonoids related to the prevention of oxidative stress, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants that support brain cell health,” she added.
Generally, it is advisable to consume half a cup or a cup per day.
14. Green Tea
The infusion is obtained from a plant called Camellia Sinensis, the same plant used for black tea. The difference is that when the leaves are harvested, they are left to dry, and then they undergo a heat treatment that stops fermentation or oxidation, which causes leaf decomposition.
As this process preserves its chemical composition, the leaf retains some active ingredients from the plant, such as polyphenols, which have numerous health benefits. Polyphenols are active compounds that help protect the body from harmful free radicals, including UV rays, radiation, and some pathogens.
It also contains flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation; tannins, responsible for the typical bitter taste but with vasoconstrictor properties beneficial for certain vascular conditions, and theobromine, a substance that acts as a diuretic.
Chocolate is one of those foods that are often demonized, with much information circulating that is not always accurate. Claims include its calorie contribution being harmful and predisposing to weight gain, the fats it provides being detrimental to acne sufferers, and its high sugar content impacting the risk of diabetes.
However, daily consumption of this food can bring several health benefits if consumed in the right amount. These benefits include being good for the heart, improving cognitive functions, helping to control cholesterol, benefiting fetal development during pregnancy, and enhancing athletic performance.