Five Healthy Foods to Eat in the New Year

Emily Rubin, RD

Registered Dietician Emily Rubin

We asked Emily Rubin, RD, Clinical Dietitian in the Jefferson Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology,  for the top five foods we should all be eating in 2015. Here are her picks:

Lentils have many benefits. Several studies have shown that eating high fiber foods like lentils may reduce your risk of heart disease. Lentils also contain insoluble dietary fiber that may prevent constipation. Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus and potassium.

There are 3 different kinds of lentils:

  • Brown lentils. They are the least expensive and they soften when cooked. Best to use for soups.
  • Green lentils. Also called French lentils, these have a nuttier flavor and stay firm when cooked. Green lentils are the best choice for salads.
  • Red lentils. The fastest cooking, these lose their shape and turn golden when cooked. They taste milder and sweeter than green lentils. Best to use them for purees and Indian dals.

Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt can have twice as much protein as regular yogurt. One cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt usually contains five to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams. More protein is great for weight control because it keeps you feeling full longer. Greek yogurt contains less lactose, the sugar in dairy foods, than regular yogurt. This is helpful for people who have lactose intolerance.  Greek yogurt is high in calcium and vitamin D which is important to maintain bone health. Greek yogurt also contains probiotics, live microorganisms. These bacteria microbes may help improve digestive function. Greek yogurt can be used for many dishes as a healthier substitute for milk, sour cream, and can even be used for baking.

Eggs have made a comeback in recent years. For a few decades, eggs were known as the trigger food for causing high cholesterol. Now, research shows cholesterol in food is not the culprit; it is saturated fats from full- fat dairy and red meat that has a much bigger effect on blood cholesterol. Eggs are a healthy source of protein and nutrients including vitamin D. One egg has only 75 calories, but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids. Another good reason to eat eggs is that they help keep you feeling full.  An egg with a piece of whole grain toast for breakfast or a hardboiled egg for a snack will keep you satisfied.

Cauliflower is a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetables. Cauliflower contains antioxidants and phytonutrients that may protect against cancer and aid heart health. Cauliflower also contains fiber that helps with a healthy digestive tract and weight loss. One cup of chopped raw cauliflower contains 27 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fat, and 5 grams of carbohydrate (including 2.1 grams of fiber and 2 grams of sugar). It also will provide 77 percent of your vitamin C needs, 20 percent of vitamin K, 10 percent or more of vitamin B-6 and folate needs for the day, as well as smaller amounts of other nutrients. Cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable.  It can be eaten raw, added to salads, or used in your cooking. Cauliflower can even be seasoned and mashed for a healthier version of mashed potatoes or made into a pizza crust.

Natural Nut-Butters
Walnut, pistachio, almond, and other nut-butters have become popular healthy foods. The butters tend to be rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (also known as MUFAs and PUFAs). They may decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. Nut-butters may even lower the risk of obesity despite their high fat content (2 tablespoons of a nut-butter contains about 17 grams of fat). Thirty-five percent of your diet can come from healthy fat, which in addition to the fiber and protein found in nuts, will make you feel more satisfied. Emily’s top choices for nut-butters are:

  • Walnut butter because it contains the greatest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Almond butter because it contains about 50 percent of the daily value of vitamin E. Almond butter also contains a significant amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and iron.

Nut-butters should be eaten in moderation, without added fats and sugar; they can be added to a snack or meal on fruit or whole-grain bread.

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