You try to eat right. Your diet is filled with fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome foods. And you’ve tried all the trendy “superfoods”: acai berries, goji berries, maca root … the list goes on. It’s fun to try new stuff, but don’t overlook those “boring” foods you remember from your grandmother’s kitchen. Many of these old staples have surprising health benefits. They’re also easy to find in grocery stores, and there are some fun new ways to enjoy them.
Why They’re Healthy: These low-calorie vegetables offer B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. They’re also loaded with antioxidants. Several other possible benefits are being studied, including anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.
Fun Way to Eat Them: Eat cuke slices raw with a low-fat or fat-free dip, add them to a burrito or use them in a salad.
4. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Why They’re Healthy: These beans are a great source of protein and fiber, two traits that make them helpful in the regulation of blood sugar. Other studies have shown they can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. They are also very filling, which can prevent overeating.
Fun Way to Eat Them: Most grocery stores offer hummus, a tasty dip made with mashed chickpeas and seasoning. It’s also quick and easy to make at home with a food processor and a few simple ingredients. It is a high-calorie food, however, so enjoy in moderation. Or just add some chickpeas to your salad.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Why They’re Healthy: These tubers have long taken a backseat to their russet potato brethren. But they are a great source of fiber and beta carotene, which is good for skin and eye health.
Fun Way to Eat Them: Fried sweet potato French fries have been on the scene a few years; even McDonald’s has tested these in certain markets. But avoid these fries, as they’re high in fat and lose most of the potato’s nutritional benefits. Baked sweet potato fries taste just as good and are easy to make at home.
Why They’re Healthy: It doesn’t get much more basic than this fruit. But chances are you could use a banana now and then in your diet. They’re a rich source of potassium, which is important for good cardiovascular health. They’re also high in fiber and a low-calorie food that is very filling.
Fun Way to Eat Them: Make bananas an essential ingredient in your daily smoothie, not just for nutritional value but because banana seems to make any smoothie taste better (no, we can’t explain why). Banana bread is good, too — in moderation.
Why They’re Healthy: You’re hopefully already eating plenty of these, but tomatoes are the original superfood — your body could probably use even more. Tomatoes are a tremendous source of lycopene, which has high antioxidant value. Studies suggest a tomato-rich diet may help prevent certain cancers, including pancreatic and prostate cancer. They’re also a source of potassium, a vital mineral often lacking in many diets.
Fun Way to Eat Them: Homemade salsa can be fun to make and is loaded with nutrition. There are countless salsa recipes on the Internet. Best of all, most salsas incorporate other healthy items (chili peppers, cilantro, garlic, etc.)