Shot of a happy older couple enjoying a healthy lunch together outdoors
Print icon
share icon

Food for good health: 7 types of food to improve your health and how to measure it

April 3, 2024
9 minutes
Healthy Eating
Diets and meal planning

The old adage "you are what you eat" almost sounds trite in the modern era. It seems there's a supplement or powdered version of many of the healthiest foods, and that isn't a bad thing. But food itself is perhaps the most powerful medicine. Even the best supplements can’t replace food for good health. 

Filling our plates with high-quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods gives us a delicious and exciting eating plan. Also, the most healthy cuisine helps promote good health and even prevents chronic diseases.

Let's do a deep dive into the top seven foods that help improve our overall health.

1. Leafy green vegetables: Powerhouses of nutrients

When we use the word "powerhouse," we're not exaggerating. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers leafy greens to be powerhouse vegetables because of how nutrient-dense they are.

Antioxidant-rich leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and folate. Also, the compounds found in dark green leafy veggies may inhibit the growth of some types of cancer, including skin, breast, stomach, and lung cancer. The folate found in these greens may even decrease pancreatic cancer risk, while the fiber reduces a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Add any of these delicious greens to your diet for both flavor and health benefits.


One cup of kale has about 68% of your daily requirement of vitamin K. Kale is also rich in manganese, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.

Swiss chard

Chard is closely related to beetroot. Swiss chard has a thick stalk and large green leaves. The nutty, earthy flavor makes these greens ideal for sauteing in dishes such as stir fry or pasta. In addition to the nutrients found in other types of greens, chard is a rich source of iron.


In the grocery store, you'll sometimes see arugula called rocket greens. These greens have a somewhat peppery taste, and they're delicious in salads. You can also use them to garnish pasta and on pizza. Arugula is rich in vitamins C, K, and A. These greens are also a great source of folate, calcium, and potassium.


Like other types of dark greens, spinach has high chlorophyll levels, making it loaded with antioxidants. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which helps with wound healing.

Collard greens

Collards are closely related to broccoli and cabbage, but the green leaves are what the plant is most known for. Enjoy collard greens for their many vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin K, protein, calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium.

2. Berries: Antioxidant-rich foods

Berries are soft, small fruits that come in a variety of beautiful colors. Depending on their ripeness and variety, they may be sour or sweet in taste. While berries are often used to make jams and jellies, they're also terrific when served raw or used in recipes.


As an excellent source of vitamin K, blueberries may improve heart health by enhancing artery function, reducing oxidative stress, and lowering LDL cholesterol. Additionally, blueberries lower diabetes risk, and one study shows that these tasty little berries may slow cognitive decline.


Raspberries are an excellent fiber source, and you'll often see them used in desserts. One thing that makes raspberries unique is they contain ellagitannins, which are antioxidant polyphenols that may help reduce oxidative stress.

In terms of other health benefits, raspberries play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, including blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Also notable, raspberries may reduce inflammation in people living with metabolic syndrome.

Other delicious berries include cranberries, bilberries, goji berries, acai berries, and strawberries.

3. Fatty fish: Omega-3 fatty acids for heart health

Fish and seafood are both nutritious and healthy, with fatty fish being rich in iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. When we eat oily fish, it can boost our brain health and heart health, according to extensive research.

  • Sardines: For a quick and easy omega-3 fatty acids source, pop open a can of sardines. The bonus is you'll also enjoy lots of calcium because of the edible bones found in canned sardines. Be sure to choose water-packed sardines instead of sardines packed in oil.
  • Salmon: Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D, and it's also a great way to get more protein into your diet.
  • Tuna: Tuna is another easy fish source because it's available canned in almost every grocery store. Look for responsibly-sourced varieties that are low in mercury.
  • Trout: For a fish low in calories, consider fresh-water trout. Trout is delicious when seared or pan-fried.

4. Whole grains: Fiber-rich staples for digestive health

Whole grains give our bodies healthy carbohydrates and help with digestive health. Also, whole grains provide fuel and fiber for our bodies, in addition to having a variety of micronutrients such as B vitamins. Add some of these grains to your healthy eating plan.

Wheat germ

Essentially, wheat germ is the embryo of a seed and it grows into a wheat plant. When cereal goes through the refining process, the bran content and wheat germ are often removed. For this reason, wheat germ is a byproduct of the milling process.

Nevertheless, whole grain products still have bran and wheat germ. Wheat germ is high in all of these vital nutrients:

  • Vitamin E
  • Fiber
  • Thiamin
  • Folic acid
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Fatty alcohols
  • Phosphorus
  • Essential fatty acids

Brown rice

In much of the world's population, rice is one of the primary food staples. When choosing rice, go with brown rice, which is more nutritious than its white rice counterparts. Brown rice has good amounts of vitamin B1, fiber, and magnesium.


As a popular breakfast food, most of us have been enjoying oatmeal for years. Besides being a warm, comforting breakfast dish, oat bran or rolled oats help reduce cardiovascular risk factors and lower cholesterol levels. As a water-soluble fiber, oats help stabilize blood glucose levels and slow down the digestive process.

Adding oats to your diet will give you a good dose of potassium and folate. Opt for steel-cut or coarse oats for even more fiber.


Quinoa is actually an herbaceous plant, but we're including it in this list because it cooks like a grain and has much of the same nutrient profile. As it turns out, quinoa is higher in fiber than grains such as brown rice.

Quinoa is a rich protein source, containing all the nine essential amino acids. With quinoa, you get the same satiety and energy you would normally get from eating meat. The bonus is that it has none of the cholesterol or fat.

5. Nuts and seeds: Healthy fats and protein sources

Nuts and seeds are high in unsaturated fat, but they also might help lower the risk of various health issues, including some types of cancer. Additionally, if you're looking for satisfying foods good for heart health, seeds and nuts will add a delicious crunch and flavor to your diet.

Equally important, nuts are one of nature's ultimate fast foods because you can enjoy them with nearly no preparation. Nuts and seeds are also versatile and can be added to salads, side dishes, and even desserts. Top a side salad with crunchy sesame seeds, sliver almonds into green beans, or add chopped walnuts to a chicken salad.


This popular nut is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, fiber, and magnesium. Plus, a 2021 review discovered that these nuts might also support gut microbiota, contribute to weight loss, improve cognitive thinking, prevent skin aging, and manage heart rate.

Macadamia nuts

When you crave a treat, bake up a batch of white chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies. Macadamia nuts are lower in omega-6 fatty acids and higher in monounsaturated fats than most other nut varieties.

Brazil nuts

Buttery brazil nuts are rich in nutrients that support thyroid function. They're also an excellent source of selenium, protein, and healthy carbohydrates.


Delicious when paired with salads or feta cheese, walnuts are rich in fiber and contain various other minerals and vitamins.

Chia seeds

A single one-ounce serving of chia seeds adds 11 grams of fiber to your daily intake. You'll also be pleased to know chia seeds are also high in manganese, magnesium, and calcium.

6. Yogurt and fermented foods: Probiotics for gut health

In our digestive tracts, about 100 trillion microorganisms and bacteria thrive and help us have better gut health. Probiotics might also be helpful for irritable bowel syndrome, hay fever, diarrhea, periodontal (gum) disease, and infant colic. The best shortcut to better gut health is to eat naturally fermented foods high in probiotics.

One thing to keep in mind is not all fermented foods contain the probiotics we need for gut health. For example, many pickles are made using vinegar instead of via a natural fermentation process with live organisms. For this reason, these products don't have probiotics. Instead, make sure the label states "naturally fermented." The most classic and well-known example of a high-probiotic food is yogurt, but there are several other types of fermented foods.


To make yogurt, food manufacturers and home cooks ferment milk. A study by Nutrition Reviews in 2021 shows that there are links between yogurt consumption and reduced risk of colorectal cancers, breast cancers, and type 2 diabetes. When shopping for yogurt, skip past the high-sugar varieties and look for yogurt with the label "live and active cultures."

If you prefer a drinkable yogurt, consider kefir, which is not just full of probiotics but also has been shown to have an impact on cardiovascular disease, immunity, diabetes, and neurological disorders.


This classic German food is delicious on a hot dog or simmered with sausage, but sauerkraut also delivers a healthy dose of fiber and probiotics. The microbiome in sauerkraut grows rapidly during the cabbage's fermentation process. Best of all, these colonies of bacteria stay stable when the sauerkraut is packaged for sale commercially.


Is spicy food good for health? If you enjoy spicy food, consider kimchi, a spicy Korean dish made with vegetables that includes fermented cabbage. A review in 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition Health found eating kimchi has many benefits, such as lowering blood lipid levels, along with reducing inflammation and blood pressure.


Tempeh is similar to tofu, but it's made with soybeans that have been naturally fermented. Also, tempeh has a nutty flavor and firmer texture than tofu. A bonus to consuming tempeh is that it's a complete vegetarian protein source.

Additionally, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety reviewed tempeh in 2021. This review revealed that tempeh may offer benefits for cognitive function, lung health, and gut health. In the same review, tempeh was shown to have an impact on these:

  • Gut health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Lung health
  • Cancer
  • Bone health
  • Liver health
  • Type 2 diabetes


Maybe you're already stuffed from eating the delicious foods on this list. Well, you can still get your probiotics in by enjoying a delicious glass of kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented, effervescent tea with a nice tangy flavor. The journal Nuritients determined in 2019 that kombucha is full of antioxidants along with the good bacteria in the beverage.

7. Colorful fruits and vegetables: Nutrient-dense options for overall wellness

The benefits of fruits and vegetables are well-documented, but which ones give you the most bang for your nutritional buck? Let's dive in and find out.


In terms of calories and fat, vegetables are one of your best options for a concentrated nutrient source. Include any of these for a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients:

  • Peppers: All peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, and bell peppers are a sweet variety that lends itself well to recipes.
  • Asparagus: Asparagus is a bit of a luxury in the vegetable world. This veggie is low in carbs and rich in beneficial vitamin K.
  • Broccoli: A cruciferous vegetable with lots of fiber, broccoli can be served cooked or raw.
  • Cauliflower: Another cruciferous veggie, cauliflower is delicious when roasted or served raw with creamy dips.
  • Carrots: One of the more nutritional root vegetables, carrots are high in carotene, which is good for your eyes.
  • Cucumbers: Because of the high water content, cucumbers are known for being cooling vegetables to enjoy when you need some hydration.

For other nutritious veggies, go with brussel sprouts, celery, cabbage, leeks, eggplant, squash, and artichokes.


Most fruits are sweet and nutritious. Best of all, you can incorporate them into your daily diet because they require almost no preparation. Try these for optimal nutritional benefits:

  • Avocados: Unlike most fruits, avocados are chock-full of healthy fat. They're also not sweet. Indulge in a creamy avocado for its fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
  • Apples: Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? The old adage may or may not be true, but there's no question that apples are super nutritious. Apples are filling, and they're an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber when you're hungry between meals.
  • Bananas: These sweet tropical fruits are known for being high in potassium. Bananas also have lots of fiber and vitamin B6.
  • Oranges: Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are known for being high in vitamin C.

Other healthy fruits include grapes, kiwis, mangoes, lemons, peaches, pineapples, pears, and plums.


Adding these seven types of healthy foods to your diet will give you a delicious meal plan full of nutrient-rich foods that are also important tools for your overall health. Consider experimenting with these foods to create healthy recipes.

With Evidation, you're empowered to make the most informed decisions about your diet and overall well-being. Give Evidation a try today by downloading the app and getting started on your journey to better health.

Diets and meal planning
Evidation on Apple App StoreEvidation on Google Play Store
Download app