When it comes to your health, the old saying "You are what you eat" really applies. You can't expect to inhale a junk-filled diet of empty calories and live a long, vibrant life. To stave off disease and reach a ripe old age, you have to incorporate good-for-you foods into your diet on a regular basis. Here are five basics your kitchen shouldn't be without:

  • Blueberries. Blueberries and other fruits with deep colors are crammed with potent antioxidants that fight cancer and heart disease. Keep a supply of them in your fridge, and get in the habit of tossing them into cereal (hot or cold), onto salads, and enjoying them for dessert with a bit of whipped cream.
  • Beans. Who says a meal has to include meat? Beans provide all the protein you need and give you a fiber boost that keeps your digestive system functioning cleanly. Wrap up some red or black beans, a little cheese and your favorite veggies in a big tortilla and call it dinner. Or puree them with garlic and olive oil for a tasty crudite dip. Just watch the sodium in the canned versions. Rinse beans before using, or buy them raw and soak them yourself.
  • Salmon. Coldwater fish such as salmon contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven clot fighters. They may also protect against irregular heartbeat and reduce bad-cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Some doctors claim the fatty acids keep skin moist and young. Aim to eat salmon several times a week; smoked salmon, or lox, counts also.
  • Broccoli. All dark green veggies are great, and broccoli is no exception. A dietary powerhouse, it contains phytonutrients that protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It also has plenty of fiber. For an interesting change of pace, pick up some broccoli slaw-found in the produce section of many supermarkets-and mix it with your favorite dressing for a tangy, crunchy treat.
  • Almonds. Like beans, almonds are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. They also have more calcium than any other nut and are loaded with magnesium, iron, Vitamin E, riboflavin and fiber. Top yogurt with sliced almonds for a satisfying afternoon pick-me-up.


Sources: AARP, www.aarp.org, Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com