Around this time of year, people start making their new year resolutions. Many of us will decide that this year we will finally go on that diet and keep the pounds off.
Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Sardines. Much cheaper than salmon. Additionally, due to their small size and diet consisting of plankton, sardines do not accumulate heavy metals in their bodies like the big fish do. There is also no fear of stock depletion any time soon. Sardines are a nutrition powerhouse: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high in vitamin D and B12, and a great source of protein. Bonus: lots of calcium from their edible bones. The one caveat – high sodium content. So watch out.
2. Nuts (instead of salted nut mixes). Buy them in the bulk section. unsalted. mix them up. Place in a ziplock bag and keep in your backpack, purse, office drawer, glove compartment, and anywhere you may get the munchies.
3. Granola. It takes no more than 5 minutes preparation and 60 minutes in the oven to make your own batch. You’ll never go back to store brought. Promise.
4. Legumes. If you’re looking for a more plant based diet, legumes are an important source of protein. Whether beans, lentils, or peas, there are endless recipes and serving variations.
5. Hummus Dip (instead of mayo). It’s a healthy dip because it is full of heart healthy fats, high in protein and very satisfying. The beans also contain nice amounts of fiber. But it can also be a healthy spread to use instead of mayonaise. By the way, hummus is a type of legume.
6. Berries. Fresh or frozen, berries are rich in antioxidants, sweet and tasty.
7. Plain yogurt (instead of flavored). Yogurt has become all the rage in diet circles, and Greek Yogurt even more so recently. If you’ve moved up to yogurt, take the next step and buy it plain. You’ll save yourself half the amount of sugar. Additionally, you’ll avoid all sorts of unnecessary ingredients used to suspend and preserve the fruit inside the yogurt. Most importantly is to try to increase yogurt with live cultures. Your body needs to have a healthy amount of ''good'' bacteria in the digestive tract, and many yogurts are made using active, good bacteria. One of the words you’ll be hearing more of in relation to yogurt is ''probiotics.'' Probiotic, which literally means ''for life,'' refers to living organisms that can result in a health benefit when eaten in adequate amounts. the benefits associated with probiotics are specific to certain strains of these "good" bacteria. Many provide their benefits by adjusting the microflora (the natural balance of organisms) in the intestines, or by acting directly on body functions, such as digestion or immune function. (Keep in mind that the only yogurts that contain probiotics are those that say "live and active cultures" on the label.)
8. Unsweetened tea. Americans are drinking too much sweet. Even if you’re off the soda bandwagon, iced tea can contain just as much sugar.
9. Flavored Water: For some people, water gets too boring. You can add a slice of lemon, or cucumber, or lemongrass, or other herbs, and instantly you’ve upgraded your drink. Too lazy to do this on your own? Companies offer a wide variety of flavored waters with 0 added sugar.
10. Fruit: Pass the fruit juice in the grocery aisle and go directly to the fruit, preferrably the fruit in the produce section. Americans drink far too much juice. The cons are that it is calorie dense, no fiber content, and states in your mouth for a such short time. Actually eating the fruit, the chewing and allowing the flavors to actually absorb into the taste buds of mouth is far more satisfying that quickly swishing fruit juice around in your mouth and swallowing it. The actual fruit is fiber rich. Fiber has been shown to be beneficial to your health in so many ways.
11. Olive Oil: Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease.
12. Flaxseed Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids: a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.
13. Soy: Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it's still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet. Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: Some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.