10 Foods You Should Eat Everyday

While there are no magical "superfoods," some foods really are powerhouses, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. These foods can help you get and stay healthy and mentally fit, and maybe even live a little longer. Include some or all of these 10 foods in your diet every day:

1. Beans

Dried or canned beans—black, white, red, pink, pinto or any other type, including lentils and split peas—not only provide high-quality protein, fiber, iron, potassium and B vitamins, they also supply disease-fighting phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) known as lignans, flavonoids, and phytosterols. To get more beans into your daily diet:

  • Add them to salads, soups, and rice or pasta dishes.
  • Mash them into dips and spreads.
  • Include bean-based recipes like vegetarian burritos, black bean or lentil soups, and three-bean chili in your weekly menu.

2. Dark leafy greens

Along with other deeply colored veggies and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, kale, collards, chicory, broccoli, and Romaine lettuce are the rock stars of the vegetable world. And for good reason: Leafy greens are simply packed with vitamins A, C, K and folate (a form of vitamin B9), plus potassium, calcium and other minerals. To get the best bang for your nutritional buck:

  • Mix up your greens and keep your recipes simple.
  • Try a fresh green salad or a quick sauté.
  • Incorporate freshly cooked or leftover greens into omelets, soups, and baked pasta dishes.

3. Blueberries (and other fresh fruit)

Like most fresh fruit, blueberries and other berries are rich in vitamin C, fiber, and a variety of essential minerals. They also contain disease–fighting antioxidants (substances that prevent or delay cell damage) called anthocyanins and phenolic compounds. Eating more blueberries and other fresh fruits may even lower your risk of developing chronic diseases and help preserve your mental health. Add blueberries and other fresh fruit to your diet:

  • Add them to smoothies.
  • Sprinkle blueberries on hot or cold cereals, fruit salads, and yogurt.
  • Blend them with a little water and any fresh fruit you have on hand to make a dessert sauce or "syrup" for pancakes and waffles.

4. Salmon and other oily fish

All fish are filled with nutrients—lean, high quality protein, B vitamins, potassium, and selenium—but oily fish like salmon, sardines, and herring pack a nutritional bonus: health-promoting, inflammation-relieving omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and other fish maintain their nutritional value whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned, or smoked:

  • Broil, grill, roast, poach, or steam fresh salmon.
  • Add chunks of cooked salmon to veggie salads, pasta dishes, and tacos.
  • And mash leftover cooked fish seasoned with mustard to use as a spread on toasted whole-grain bread or crackers.

5. Yogurt

In addition to being a super source of protein, B vitamins, and calcium, yogurt made with live, active cultures is a probiotic. That means it helps replenish the good bacteria in your gut necessary to keep your intestinal tract healthy and working properly.

However, "Watch out for flavored yogurts with added sugar," warns Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, Director of Diabetes Education at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. "Naturally occurring sugar from milk accounts for about 12 to 15 grams per serving, and that’s okay, but much higher than that and you’re probably eating too much sugar."

  • Use lowfat plain yogurt as a topping for fresh fruit.
  • Season with a pinch of curry powder or smoked paprika and serve with chicken or seafood.
  • Top with dill and serve with freshly cooked or salad vegetables such as sliced cucumber, or add chopped cilantro and serve with tacos, burritos, and chili.
  • Cooking or baking with yogurt destroys some or all of the probiotic effect, but not the nutrients.

6. Almonds

Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts, including peanuts (technically a legume), are considered heart-healthy; they’re also excellent sources of good-for-you monounsaturated fats, vegetable protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium.

  • Besides eating almonds and other nuts as a snack, you can add chopped or sliced nuts to cereal, yogurt, applesauce, and cut-up fruit.
  • Try coating chicken cutlets and fish fillets with finely ground nuts instead of breadcrumbs before cooking.
  • You can also substitute ground nuts for ¼ of the total amount of flour called for in recipes for baked goods like muffins, cookies, cakes, and pie crusts. (So if a recipe calls for 2 cups flour, you can use 1/2 cup of ground nuts and 1 1/2 cups flour.)
  • And don’t forget nut butters—they count, too!

7. Avocado

Although avocados are mostly fat, it’s the beneficial kind of unsaturated fats that helps your heart stay healthy. Avocados also supply hard-to-get vitamin E as well as vitamin K and fiber.

  • Top salads, soups, and stews with diced avocado.
  • Mash it into guacamole.
  • Toss avocado into a blender with kale and ripe banana for a nutritionally balanced and super-flavorful smoothie.

8. Quinoa

Quinoa, which is technically a seed but is treated like a grain, is a star in the whole grains group, thanks to its high protein and omega-3 fatty acid content.

  • Serve quinoa for breakfast like any other hot cereal.
  • For lunch, include it in a grain salad (use in place of bulgur or rice).
  • And as a side dish or vegetarian main course, serve with fresh veggies for dinner.

9. Sweet potatoes

Roasted, steamed, boiled, or mashed, sweet potato is the one starchy, sweet food that comes highly recommended by most nutritionists. Why? Sweet potatoes are high in complex carbohydrates, vitamin A, and fiber. And despite its natural sweetness, sweet potatoes actually contain much less sugar than a piece of fruit.

  • Mash sweet potatoes with pineapple, cranberries, oranges, applesauce, or ricotta cheese.
  • Pair them with pork, ham, game meats, and curries.

10. Olive oil

When it comes to healthy fats used for cooking, olive oil reigns supreme due to its high unsaturated fat content.

  • In addition to the olive oil you use in salad dressing, use pure and light olive oil in place of other fats when cooking and baking.
  • When baking breads, muffins, cakes, and cookies, look for recipes that have been specifically developed to use liquid oils instead of solid fats like butter or margarine.

Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE reviewed this article.


Massey, Alison, MS, RD, LDN, CDE. E-mail to author. June 22, 2015.

Morris C.M., C.C. Tangney, Y. Wang, et al. "MIND Diet Associated With Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.”" Alzheimer’s & Dementia. pli:S1552-5260(15)00017-5. doi: 10.101.6/j.jalz.2014.11.009. February 11, 2015.

Kader A., P. Perkins-Veazie and G.E. Lester. "Nutritional Quality of Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables and Their Importance in Human Health." ResearchGate. January 2001.