15 Foods for a Healthy Diet

Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which may help prevent certain cancers. Studies have also shown that tomatoes can lower cholesterol, as well as reduce blood pressure and maintain healthy cellular growth (which is a fancy way of saying it can help you have healthier hair, nails and skin). Your best bet? Eat plenty of tomato sauce. You'll be able to pack in more nutrients than by just downing slices alone.

Orange Juice

It's also possible to drink super healthy diet foods. Orange juice contains potassium and—you guessed it—vitamin C. Plus, many brands are now fortified with heart healthy omega-3s. It may also help increase your HDL levels, a.k.a. healthy cholesterol. Look for fresh squeezed varieties and brands low in sugar.

Sweet Potatoes

Talk about optimum nutrition: Sweet potatoes have five times the "required" amount of beta carotene your body needs. So what does that mean? For one, healthier skin. Beta carotene can help prevent against sun damage. It may also boost your immune system, preventing you from getting sick from colds and other infections this winter.

Wheat Germ

Wheat germ contains magnesium, which helps keep your bones healthy in addition to reducing stress and maintaining healthy insulin levels. It also has iron, fiber, calcium, potassium and even zinc (which may help boost your immune system). Add wheat germ to your diet by sprinkling it on yogurt or healthy cereal.

Pomegranate

Eat this tangy fruit's juicy seeds or drink it in juice form for a punch of antioxidants, including tannins and anthocyanins. It's a must-have addition for any heart healthy diet since it may help blood flow and reduce levels of bad cholesterol. According to research out of UCLA, it may also help prevent certain types of cancers.

Hot Peppers

Chilies don't just spice up your favorite recipes—they're also packed with vitamin C and may help reduce pain levels. They may also help you lose weight. Spicy foods have been found to increase the metabolic rate by up to 23 percent for short periods of time.

Oatmeal

Down a healthy dose of fiber for breakfast with a bowl of oatmeal, which may help reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, as well as provide nutrients, such as vitamin E, iron and magnesium. Tip: Add a scoop of protein powder for an extra healthy kick in the morning.

This article originally appeared on Shape.com. 


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