Whether you’re fresh out of the salon or just crushed another CrossFit session, you know that feeling good about your body can change your entire outlook.
Unfortunately, for many of us, our food choices are conspiring against us, making us look bad and feel even worse. While that juicy burger and mountain of fries may provide some momentary satisfaction, the exhaustion you feel and the bloated belly you see in the mirror afterward are rarely worth it. The good news? There are countless delicious foods that can keep your body firing on all cylinders. These nutritional powerhouses can give you the energy you need, helping you look as good as you feel inside.
Even better, these foods aren’t pricey, obscure options you’ll spend half your life searching for; these treats are only as far as your nearest grocery store shelf. Start looking and feeling better today by adding these dietary dynamos to your meals. And when you’re ready to get your body and brain into a healthier place, discover the 22 Ways to Lose 2 Inches of Belly Fat in 2 Weeks!
There’s nothing fishy about the health benefits of this coral-colored seafood. Loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can make you look good and feel great. Salmon’s omega-3s help reduce inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease, and help prevent against neurological issues as you age. Better yet, a study conducted at Purdue University reveals that omega-3s increased study subjects’ natural collagen production, thus helping you maintain your youthful glow. For more reasons to add this food to your diet, don’t miss these 20 Reasons You Should Be Eating More Fish.
Good things do come in small packages. Case in point: the petite, but potent, apricot. In addition to their wealth of beta-carotene, which researchers at Ulm University in Germany have linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, apricots are also a great way to load your diet with vitamin C. Research reveals that vitamin C can not only boost your immune system, but lower your risk of depression, too, making you healthier and happier along the way.
Just a few raspberries on your morning oatmeal could be the key to looking and feeling great all day long. Raspberries have a low glycemic index, meaning they’re a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth without risking a major blood sugar spike or triggering fat storage. These fiber-rich fruits are also a great source of resveratrol, which researchers at Harvard Medical School have linked to reductions in cellular aging. They also just so happen to pack anthocyanins, an antioxidant pigment that can reduce dementia risk, according to research published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. For more ways to satisfy your cravigns while whittling your waistline, make the 30 Best Foods for 6-Pack Abs part of your regular routine.
Your mom wasn’t lying when she said that eating your greens was good for you. A study conducted at Lund University found that study subjects given spinach extract were 95 percent less likely to eat for pleasure, instead of hunger cues, and they increased their weight loss by 43 percent when compared to a control group.
Protein powerhouses like lamb are an easy way to fill up without filling out your waistline. Not only is protein a more satiating choice than quickly-digested carbs, which turn into fat when not burned off, lamb in particular is loaded with conjugated linoleic acid, which can help keep muscles from atrophying, according to research conducted at the University of Texas. The result? You’ll not only look leaner, you can also enjoy improved firmness and fewer wrinkles as you age.
A little sesame-crusted tuna here, some seeds on your salad there, and you’ve got a surefire solution to your body woes. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health not only found that women who consumed the most lignans, compounds found in sesame seeds, were less likely to pack on unwanted pounds, sesame seeds are also good sources of non-dairy calcium, which can help keep your bones strong and your smile healthy and bright.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, and it’s easier than ever to enjoy its benefits when eggs are on the menu. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity reveals that individuals who ate protein-rich eggs for breakfast enjoyed greater weight loss than those who ate a similar number of calories from carbohydrates. That’s far from the only benefit you’ll get from the occasional omelet, however; researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients found in eggs, effective at keeping your vision sharp, making it easier to admire all that weight loss progress you’ve made.
Getting some leafy greens on your plate doesn’t have to mean tucking into the same old boring salad day after day. Collard greens are a great way to mix up your meal plan while still enjoying all the health benefits that come along with eating your greens, from increased weight loss to improved digestion. According to a study from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, leafy greens can even keep your brain sharp as you age, making collard greens one smart snack. For more ways to load your meals with healthy veggies, turn to the 30 Healthy Side Dishes That Satisfy!
This fuzzy little fruit is more than just fun to eat: it’s also a great treat for both your looks and your health. Kiwis are packed with beta-carotene, which researchers at Münster University Hospital have found effective at protecting against sun damage. Even better, the wealth of vitamin C in kiwis has been shown to improve immune health, and researchers at Arizona State University have even found a correlation between vitamin C intake and reduction in body fat.
A little asparagus on your menu could mean a healthier, happier body in no time. In addition to being a filling, low-calorie addition to any diet, asparagus is a good source of prebiotic fiber inulin, which can help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, boosting your immune system and helping you slim down along the way. This can be a major boon in the long run, too—researchers at Lund University have found that a healthy gut microbiome can reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Grab a handful of red grapes and you’ll be looking leaner and feeling better in no time. Red grapes are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth and are loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment linked to reductions in belly fat. Research also suggests that resveratrol can increase mental acuity and keep vision sharp, making anybody feel like a million bucks.
Sprinkling some turmeric on your favorite dish or sneaking some into a smoothie can help you enjoy better health both outside and in. This antioxidant powerhouse is a serious inflammation-fighter, and the results of a study published in Nutrition and Cancer even reveal that turmeric can help lower your risk of sun-related skin damage.
What’s better than a bowl of butternut squash soup when the temperature starts to dip? Maybe the health benefits you’ll enjoy along with that comforting flavor. Butternut squash is packed with beta-carotene, a major player in the fight against cognitive ailments later in life. Better yet, research published in Acta Dermato-Venerologica reveals that beta-carotene supplementation can even help prevent damage from UV rays. Make sure your favorite soup isn’t doing more harm than good by discovering our 36 Best and Worst Canned Soups!
Some mackerel on your menu can mean major changes in how you look and feel. Loaded with anti-inflammatory, weight-loss-promoting omega-3 fatty acids and depression-fighting vitamin D, this fatty fish can make you look great and feel even better.
While sugar-packed snacks are generally no bargain for your health or appearance, honey is actually pretty sweet for both. Honey’s antibacterial properties can help stave off infection, and researchers at San Diego State University have even found that, despite its sweetness, honey is significantly more weight-neutral and less likely to contribute to fat gain than sucrose-based sweets.
Enjoy better health with every bite by adding some Swiss chard to your menu. Swiss chard is loaded with immune-boosting nutrients, age-fighting antioxidants, and, like other leafy greens, has been linked to a lower risk of both dementia and weight gain.
Don’t let the low-carb hype fool you: grains can be great for your body, both inside and out. Oatmeal is well-known for its cholesterol-lowering properties, and it’s also a pretty major asset if you’re hoping to live a longer healthier life. In fact, a study conducted at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that individuals who consumed upwards of three servings of whole grains, like oatmeal, each day slashed their risk of death from any cause by 20 percent.
Lemon may be sour, but this citrus fruit is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. Not only does research suggest that the very scent of lemons can decrease appetite and help spur weight loss, the high vitamin C content in foods like lemons can boost your body’s collagen production, according to research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.
Whether you serve them stuffed or cut into strips, bell peppers are an easy way to add serious flavor and health benefits to any meal. Surprising as it may seem, bell peppers actually boast more vitamin C than your average orange, helping you increase your collagen production and improve your immune health. Research published in the British Journal of Community Nursing also reveals that vitamin C can expedite your body’s healing process, helping bumps, bruises, and blemishes disappear as quickly as they came.
Want to feel better in a hurry? Slap some steak on the grill tonight. Steak is packed with alpha lipoic acid, which has been linked to reduced inflammation, improvements in circulation, and slower cellular aging. Bring on the beef! Even if you’re not in the mood for meat, our 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss can help you reach your weight loss goals in no time.
Eggs aren’t the only way to get your lutein and zeaxanthin fix; kale is a vegan-friendly source of these powerful nutrients. Not only can this powerhouse duo help reduce your risk of vision problems, researchers at Georgian Court University have found this terrific twosome effective at fighting ultraviolet light-related skin damage.
Snack on some satisfying citrus and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier (and hotter) bod. The wealth of vitamin C found in oranges can help boost your collagen production, keeping your skin looking lovely and line-free. Researchers at Sao Paolo State University found that, despite its natural sugar, 100 percent orange juice didn’t even contribute to weight gain in study subjects on a reduced-calorie diet.
A handful of almonds here and there could be the key to a healthier body. Snacking on almonds has been shown to lower blood pressure, and a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association links almond consumption with reductions in dangerous abdominal fat.
Make mussels part of your meal plan and you’ll be looking and feeling better before you know it. Low in calories and high in protein, mussels are an easy way to stay satisfied while packing your diet with inflammation-obliterating omega-3s.
Want to look and feel amazing? Bring on the blueberries! Not only are blueberries a good source of dementia-fighting anthocyanin pigments, research conducted at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry reveals that just 12 weeks of blueberry supplementation yielded significant improvements in memory.
Pumpkins are more than just a great Halloween accessory; they’re also a major boon to your health. A rich source of beta-carotene, as well as weight loss-promoting vitamin C and skin-smoothing vitamin E, those pumpkin guts can make you healthy in a heartbeat.
Who says you have to give up your favorite childhood snacks just because you’re getting older? In fact, a little peanut butter on your apple or alongside some celery sticks could be the remedy for your skin health woes. The lutein in peanuts has been linked to the retention of skin’s elastin, an essential component in keeping your skin looking firm and wrinkle-free. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine also reveals that peanut consumption is associated with reduction in heart disease risk, helping you live a longer, healthier life. Peanuts aren’t the only way to enjoy a quick energy boost; our 40 Healthy Snack Ideas To Keep You Slim will have you feeling full and focused in no time.
Grab some grapefruit and you’ll love what you see in the mirror in no time. Antioxidant vitamin C helps fight illness, grapefruit’s lycopene content has been linked to reductions in cancer risk, and researchers at Vanderbilt University have even discovered that drinking grapefruit juice before a meal can aid in weight loss.
Skip those carb-heavy sides and opt for some turnip greens instead — your body will thank you. Loaded with beta-carotene, fiber, calcium, and vitamin C, these leafy greens can help you maintain a healthy weight, fight infection, and keep your skin smooth.
Sipping some oolong can turn your complexion from meh to magnificent. Oolong tea is loaded with polyphenols, which can help fight free radical damage, reducing your cancer risk and improving the condition of your skin in the process.
Mushrooms are magic when it comes to your health and overall well-being. Sunlight-grown mushrooms are packed with vitamin D, which has been linked to reduced rates of depression. Researchers at the University of Milan have even found that increasing vitamin D intake in overweight and obese individuals helped them slim down, and that upping the dosage helped them achieve even greater weight loss.
Go ahead, give into that chocolate craving once in a while. Dark chocolate has resveratrol in it, helping you fight belly fat and keep your mind sharp, and the cocoa flavonols found in dark chocolate have been linked to a reduced risk of sun damage, according to researchers at the Witten/Herdecke Institute for Experimental Dermatology.
Dust that latte with some cinnamon and enjoy health benefits both inside and out. Research published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine reveals that cinnamon is effective at reducing pain and combatting insulin spikes. A study published in PLoS One even reveals that cinnamon can help fend off cognitive issues later in life. The benefits of spicy food don’t stop at cinnamon; start melting more fat at every meal by adding the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism to your menu!
Don’t cut out that morning coffee just yet; it could be helping you look and feel your best. Research published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry reveals that coffee consumption decreased study participants’ risk of depression, and research suggests that the caffeine in that cup of joe can help maintain your skin’s elasticity.
Light on calories, but heavy on vitamins, broccoli definitely deserves a spot on your dinner menu. In addition to beautifying, immune-health-supporting vitamins A and C, broccoli is also a vegan-friendly source of iron, which can combat the poor mood and metabolic changes often associated with iron-deficiency anemia.
This antioxidant powerhouse is as tasty as it is good for you. Research suggests that pomegranates can help reduce heart disease risk, improve blood flow, and research conducted at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have even discovered that the urolithin A packed by pomegranates can increase longevity while fighting cellular aging.
Bake up some sweet potatoes and enjoy a wealth of benefits for your body, both inside and out. Not only are sweet potatoes an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C, their beta-carotene content has been linked to reduced rates of skin aging, helping you maintain that line-free, youthful glow.
Improving your health and appearance is as easy as adding some brown rice to your menu. Brown rice is a good source of heart-healthy whole grains, which have been linked to a reduced risk of premature death. Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reveals that oral supplementation with B6, like that found in brown rice, even helped study participants enjoy clearer complexions. Need to scratch that carb itch? Our 30 Best & Worst Dry Pastas in America will help you get there in a healthy way.
Get glowing by making Brussels sprouts the star of your next meal. Brussels sprouts are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help you fight sun damage while preventing the loss of elastin in the skin, keeping wrinkles at bay in the process.
Enjoy a satisfying, low-calorie recipe that’s loaded with antioxidants by adding some romaine to your next meal. Romaine lettuce is a great source of vitamins C and B6 and packs more than a day’s worth of eyesight-boosting, healthy-skin-promoting, inflammation-fighting vitamin A per cup.
You say tomato, I say tomahto, but we can all conclusively say that tomatoes have some big benefits for your health and looks. Fighting inflammation, dementia, and skin aging with their beta-carotene and boosting your brainpower with their lycopene content, this is one salad-topper you can’t afford to skip.
Cranberries are more than just a great band, they’re also a great food. Packed with resveratrol and vitamin C, these little fruits can help you ward off depression and weight gain in one fell swoop.
Try this tropical fruit on for size when you’re eager to improve your health and look your best. Guava is full of vitamin C and is yet another source of lycopene, an antioxidant that researchers at the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences have linked to a sharper memory.
Cantaloupe can do wonders for your health. Its high water content can keep your skin hydrated, while its beta-carotene is a great weapon against sun-related skin damage.
While fro-yo still won’t earn any accolades for is health benefits, the unsweetened stuff can do some serious cleanup for your health. Live culture yogurt can boost the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut; fortunately, good gut bacteria have been linked to everything from weight loss to a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk. Just as beneficial is the vitamin D found in dairy-based yogurt, which may reduce depression risk and has even been shown to fight acne.
Pick up some pineapple and you’ll be looking and feeling better with every bite. Packed with immune-boosting vitamin C and anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, this is one sweet treat you can feel good about eating.
Tuck into some tuna and you’ll be healing your body from the inside out. Tuna’s wealth of omega-3s fight inflammation and reduce your heart disease risk. Better yet, researchers at Purdue University have found omega-3s effective at promoting collagen production, keeping your skin soft and ageless.
Sprouted Grain Bread
You don’t have to give up grains to enjoy better health. In fact, whole grains may actually be one of the most beneficial foods for your wellness and confidence. Researchers at the University of Oregon have linked whole grain consumption to the production of collagen and elastin, and sprouted grains have increased nutritional bioavailability and are easier to digest than their highly-processed counterparts.
A little box of raisins can yield big benefits for your health and appearance. Raisins are not only a healthy way to satisfy that craving for less-than-healthy sweet snacks (nice try, cookie dough brownies), they’re also packed with energizing iron and inflammation-fighting resveratrol, which has also been linked to reductions in acne-promoting bacteria by researchers at UCLA.
More than just a hot dog topping, sauerkraut is a killer way to get your whole body feeling great. Sauerkraut’s probiotic properties can help keep your gut bacteria healthy, which, in turn, can improve the appearance and clarity of your skin, according to a recent Russian study. Getting your gut in great shape is easier than ever with the 20 Best Foods For a Healthy Gut on your menu!