Each year, in the beginning of January, we vow to throw away the sticky sweets and salty snacks that take up room in our cabinets and pantries in hopes that it will finally be the year that we drop the last ten pounds and leave fad diets behind in hope of something more permanent. It’s an admirable goal but for many people, it’s easier said than done.
This year, rather than depriving yourself and swearing off your favorite snacks for good, take a different approach. Instead of subtracting food, add more.
“Many people have become so used to the same foods over and over, but by adding some new healthy additions to your diet this year, you can eat healthier and decrease your risk for serious health issues,” says Stacey Sharpless, registered dietitian at Bryn Mawr Hospital, Main Line Health.
As you kick off a healthy new year, Sharpless recommends a few foods to add to your grocery cart and what health benefits you’ll reap from including them in your diet.
You’ve probably heard this recommendation for years, but have you made the switch yet? Whole grain and whole wheat products have been linked to lowering your risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and obesity. In addition, they help lower cholesterol, blood, sugar, and blood pressure.
Even if you’ve made the switch, remember that other popular types of breads, like sourdough, ciabatta, garlic, and focaccia can pack on the calories, too. Opt for whole grain and whole wheat for the majority of your sandwiches, not just those with peanut butter and jelly.
Try whole grains for breakfast with our Whole Grain Waffles recipe.
You might wrinkle your nose at the idea of adding Brussels sprouts to your plate at dinner, but consider this: the vegetable lowers the risk of prostate, lung, stomach, and breast cancer. These little veggies pack more cancer-fighting power than turnips, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, or broccoli. Try adding them to your plate every two weeks and experimenting with new ways to cook them, like in this Garlic Brussels Sprouts recipe.
If the only way you’ve been using beans is as an ingredient in your burrito, it’s time to explore other ways to work this superfood into your diet. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Keep in mind that beans don’t have to be boring. Our Black Bean Chili recipe has fresh veggies, herbs, and beans for a filling and fiber-packed winter recipe. If you’re buying canned beans, rinse them with water before using them to eliminate extra sodium.
Bonus! Not only is quinoa good for you, but it also counts as a whole grain, which means it meets two of your recommended new foods for the new year. Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains the amino acids necessary for building muscle and revving your metabolism, which helps burns calories faster. In addition, quinoa is a great source of fiber, iron, and magnesium.
Not sure when to use quinoa? Try using it as a substitute for rice or independently, like in our Pear and Quinoa Salad.
Trying these foods in the new year will allow you to add some variety to your diet and live a healthy life, an important factor no matter what the scale says.
View our archive of healthy recipes for more ideas on what to put on your plate. For more nutrition and wellness tips, become a fan of Main Line Health on Facebook.