- Beans and other legumes are rich in soluble (dissolves in water) fiber. A ½-cup serving of cooked beans provides 4 to 10 grams of fiber (adults need 20 to 35 grams per day). Incorporating soluble fiber into your diet is important because it helps lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, thereby reducing the incidence of some heart diseases. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, which makes it an excellent nutrient for people with diabetes. Oats, barley, and citrus fruits also contain soluble fiber.
- Iron plays an essential role in getting oxygen from the bloodstream to every cell in your body. Low iron can lead to anemia, weakness, and infections. Besides liver, the best source of readily absorbed iron is lean beef, such as flank steak. Non-meat sources of iron include fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, beans, and pumpkin seeds. Iron from these sources isn't absorbed as well, but when enjoyed with Vitamin C-rich foods such as bell peppers and citrus fruit, iron absorption increases.
- Eat at least five servings of veggies and fruits daily. You've heard this before, but here's why you should take it to heart: Produce is rich in selenium and vitamins A, C, and E--powerful antioxidants that protect your body's cells from damage caused by smoke, pollution, sun, etc. They also keep your immune system healthy, reducing your risk of cancer and other diseases. To learn more about how foods and their nutrients affect your health, visit the American Dietetic Association's Web site at www.eatright.org.