Improve Your Grocery List: Add These Healthy Foods That You Aren’t Eating

According to a 2014 study, 60% of people eat the same meals week after week. Consider branching out and trying some unique, healthy foods. There are nuts that most people don’t know about, soy products that many haven’t tried, and vegetables that people don’t know how to incorporate into their cooking. Here are the healthiest, tastiest foods that you aren’t eating.

You Can Easily Incorporate Beets Into Your Dishes

Sliced, roasted beets are topped with parsley.
Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Many people don’t know how to incorporate beets into their diet because of their sweet flavor. But beets are an incredible source of vitamin B9, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, iron, and fiber. In 2008, a study in Hypertension concluded that beets can lower your blood pressure in only a few hours.

As a result, beets are imperative to heart health. People who eat beetroots have better stamina and energy while exercising, according to studies by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Toss beets in salads, roast them to make chips, or bake them and create a hummus-like spread.

Try Eating Cauliflower Alongside Broccoli

Cauliflower joins broccoli and peppers on a baking tray.
Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

While broccoli tends to steal peoples’ attention, its pale relative is just as nutritious. Cauliflower is naturally high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and fiber. It also contains some protein, so people are more likely to feel full after eating it, according to Advances in Nutrition.

You can easily incorporate cauliflower into your diet by substituting other ingredients. Bonnie Brost, a registered dietitian at Essentia Health, says that cauliflower can replace rice, pizza crusts, and even mashed potatoes. You’ll hardly taste a difference!

Eat Prunes Even When You Don’t “Need” To

Women unpack prunes from boxes to display.
ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images
ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Prunes are not just for the constipated. You can eat them at any time for their numerous health benefits. Not only do prunes supply fiber, but they also have iron, potassium, and vitamin K. They can even reduce your appetite, according to a 2009 study in the journal Appetite.

In 2010, researchers studied participants who ate prunes daily. They had a much healthier blood pressure level than those who did not eat prunes. If you want to add more to your diet, put prunes in oatmeal, nut mixes, and smoothies. You can also buy prune juice or prune jam.

Enjoy A New Nut: Brazil Nuts

A woman holds Brazil nuts in her hand.
Janice Despeaux/Pinterest
Janice Despeaux/Pinterest

When people think about nuts, many do not consider Brazil nuts. These are edible seeds from the Lecythidaceae tree with a nutty, buttery flavor. They are a nutritional powerhouse, providing 988% of your daily recommended selenium, and half of your daily copper.

What is selenium? It is essential for your thyroid and immune systems. As a result, Brazil nuts improve your immune system, hormones, and reproductive systems, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You can eat Brazil nuts raw as a snack, or roast them and add them to salads, granola, and cereal.

Eat Pumpkin Seeds For Nutrients That You’re Probably Lacking

Pumpkin seeds pour out of a plastic bag.
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Pumpkin seeds are not just for Halloween; you can eat them in granola, cakes, trail mix, and cereal. If you do, you will gain a healthy dose of magnesium. According to Scientifica, magnesium alleviates muscle cramps, prevents headaches, improves sleep, and soothes asthma symptoms. Seventy-nine percent of American adults do not get enough magnesium.

Plus, pumpkin seeds are high in fiber. In 2009, researchers concluded that high-fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. If you eat more pumpkin seeds, you’ll get more tasty nutrients.

Buy Dried Seaweed, And You Won’t Regret It

Dried seaweed floats on top of ramen in a bowl.
Markus Winkler/Unsplash
Markus Winkler/Unsplash

Many people never eat seaweed outside of sushi. But seaweed comes with a long list of health benefits, including protein, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, and copper. According to a 2013 study, seaweed provides antioxidants that relieve oxidative stress in the body. Over time, oxidative stress may contribute to aging and diseases.

Seaweed also has more fiber than most fruits and vegetables. In 2018, researchers found that seaweed supplies healthy gut bacteria. Add dried seaweed to your diet by putting it on rice, in salads, or eating it plain. It is a tasty substitute for salt.

Shake Up Some Protein Dishes By Adding Lentils

Dried lentils, beans, and rice are stored in glass containers.
sardenacarlo/Pixabay
sardenacarlo/Pixabay

The next time you make a bean soup or side dish, try lentils instead. These legumes come in several varieties and are 25% protein, so you can substitute them for meat. One cup offers 15 grams of fiber, along with vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and zinc.

Lentils also supply polyphenols, a type of flavonoid with several health benefits. According to a study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, polyphenols are anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-obesity, and protective of the heart. That’s all from lentils!

Instead Of Milk, Add Kefir To Your Grocery List

A man picks up a container of kefir while grocery shopping.
Anton VergunTASS via Getty Images
Anton VergunTASS via Getty Images

Kefir is a fermented milk that has a similar texture to thin yogurt. It became popular in the former Soviet Union, but you can drink it now for better gut health. In fact, kefir has more powerful probiotics than yogurt, according to Frontiers in Microbiology. It contains 61 strains of healthy bacteria and yeast.

If you are lactose intolerant, you can probably still drink kefir. It has a low lactose content, and its probiotics break down lactose before it can affect people. Plus, you can use it as regular milk: put it in cereal, in a smoothie, or even bake with it.

Add Some Color To Dishes With Red Cabbage

Red cabbage lies on plastic.
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Red cabbage is slightly softer and sweeter than green cabbage. People don’t just eat it for its color; it also has several health benefits. One cup contains half of your daily vitamin C requirements, along with vitamin K, vitamin B6, fiber, and vitamin A.

Because of these vitamins, red cabbage effectively fights inflammation. According to a 2016 test-tube study, it can reduce inflammation by 22% to 40%. You can easily add red cabbage to your diet, too. Chop it up, toss it with some vinaigrette and pepper, and you’ll have a delicious side dish!

If You Like Soy, Try Tempeh

Tempeh is being fried in oil.
Lindsey for the Washington Post
Lindsey for the Washington Post

If you’re a fan of soy, you might like tempeh too. Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that has the shape and texture of cake. You can steam it, bake, stir fry it, blacken it, or add it to soups and stews. And you will receive many health benefits by doing so.

Tempeh provides calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and manganese. According to a review of several studies in 2021, tempeh offers prebiotics, which lowers inflammation in the gut. It also inhibits activity of cancerous cells and increases cognitive ability. If this interests you, try some!

Yes, You Can (And Should) Eat Algae

Bread and ice cream are made from powdered algae, pictured in the lower right.
Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images
Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images

Did you know that you can eat algae? Not only that, but it’s very good for you. Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, offers many B-vitamins, copper, iron, and protein. It even prevents unhealthy LDL cholesterol from forming. During a 2001 study, participants who ate two grams of spirulina per day had lower cholesterol levels.

Spirulina is especially useful for workout drinks. In 2010, researchers discovered that algae improves stamina during workouts. You can take spirulina tablets or add the powder to water, tea, coffee, smoothies, and yogurt.

Cook With Canned Sardines For Omega-3s

A chef holds out three different cans of sardines.
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP via Getty Images
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP via Getty Images

Sardines are not as gross as many people joke about. In fact, they are a specific type of fish with nutrients that everyone needs. It is a fatty fish, meaning that it contains oils with omega-3 fatty acids. According to Harvard Health Publishing, several studies have linked omega-3s to a lower risk of heart disease.

In 2016, scientists tested the effect of sardines on participants with type 2 diabetes. The fish did wonders for their metabolism, inflammation, and gut bacteria. You can add sardines to a salad, pasta, crackers, casserole, or curry.

Why Get Plain Potatoes When You Can Have Sweet Potatoes?

A sign for sweet potatoes on sale says
Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Although regular potatoes tend to take the spotlight, sweet potatoes are a more flavorful and healthier option. Both types of potatoes are nutritious, but sweet potatoes have more vitamins. Registered dietitian Heather Mangieri calls sweet potatoes “nutritional all-stars” with their high vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.

One cup of sweet potatoes provides 769% of your daily recommended vitamin A. In 2015, researchers from Kansas State University discovered that sweet potatoes’ antioxidants (including vitamin A) have anti-cancer properties. Purple sweet potatoes have the most antioxidants.

Don’t Shy Away From Eggs And Egg Yolks

A woman whisks eggs while brown eggs sit in front of her.
Jose R. Aguirre/Cover/Getty Images
Jose R. Aguirre/Cover/Getty Images

Some people avoid eggs (and specifically egg yolks) because of their high cholesterol. But in 2006, a study found that eggs do not raise cholesterol in 70% of people. In fact, the yolk contains most of the egg’s nutrients, including vitamin A, multiple B vitamins, selenium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs also contain a rare nutrient called choline. According to research in Nutrition Reviews, choline builds cells, regulates the nervous system, controls mood, enhances memory, improves muscle control, and boosts brain function. When you eat eggs, consume the yolk too.

Enjoy Cranberries All Year Long

A close-up photo shows a pile of cranberries.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

While cranberries tend to be forgotten outside of Thanksgiving, you can reap their benefits throughout the year. They offer vitamins C, E, and K1. In 2020, a systematic review found that cranberries prevent cardiovascular disease in several ways. They stabilize blood pressure, reduce BMI, and supply “good” HDL cholesterol.

Researchers have also found that cranberry juice has these health effects, especially the antioxidants, according to the Journal of Nutrition. If you buy some, get the unsweetened version. Combine it with sparkling water, and you’ll have a healthy “fruit soda.”

Eat Flaxseeds To Lower Your Risk Of Chronic Diseases

Flaxseeds spill out of a white spoon.
Sanjay Shah/Pinterest
Sanjay Shah/Pinterest

Many people do not eat enough seeds. Flaxseeds are especially healthy, as they provide essential omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and fiber. These seeds also contain plant compounds called lignans, which can combat cancer. In 2014, a Canadian study found that women who eat flaxseeds are less likely to get breast cancer.

Flaxseeds also supply a high amount of protein. According to a 2012 study in Appetite, these seeds reduce hunger and overall appetite. Sprinkle flaxseeds into cereal, mix them into mustard and other condiments, mix it into yogurt, or blend it into smoothies.

Consume More Capers, Not Just On Lox

A person reaches for a bowl that is being filled with capers.
Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images
Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images

Capers are not just eaten with lox. They pair well with any fish dish, pasta, eggplant, salads, and even popcorn. Every time you eat capers, you get vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, copper, calcium, and fiber.

In 2007, the American Chemical Society found that capers have a surprising amount of antioxidants. According to the researchers, these antioxidants help to combat numerous diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Another study in 2004 determined that capers can stabilize blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. All that from this tiny food!

Spice Things Up With Fennel

Bulbs of fennel are contained in a wooden box.
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Fennel is a member of the carrot family and is often used as a spice in Mediterranean food. But you should eat more fennel for its nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. If you are trying to lose weight, fennel can help. A study in Clinical Nutrition Research found that fennel tea reduces appetite.

But this vegetable has many other benefits. In 2006, an animal study concluded that fennel boosts memory and inhibits mental aging. It can also reduce inflammation, according to a 2012 study. Put fennel on pizza, risotto, soup, salad, pasta, and veggie dishes.

Eat More Pomegranate Seeds Or Drink The Juice

Whole pomegranates and pomegranate juice are on display in a market.
Vladimir GerdoTASS via Getty Images
Vladimir GerdoTASS via Getty Images

Although pomegranates can be a hassle to prepare, they are worth it–for the taste and health. Registered dietitian Sarah Pflugradt says that pomegranates contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant that makes the red color. Anthocyanins soothe inflammation in the body.

Along with antioxidants, pomegranates supply vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. You can also drink pomegranate juice for benefits. During a 2013 study, participants drank pomegranate juice daily for two weeks. They ended up having lower cholesterol. If you want to eat the whole seeds, toss them into yogurt, oatmeal, salads, cereal, or toast.

If You’re Tired Of Lettuce, Use Watercress

A chef holds a basket full of watercress.
Matt Faber – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images
Matt Faber – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Watercress is a highly nutritious member of the cabbage family. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control gave watercress a perfect 100 score for nutrient density. A single cup provides all of your daily recommended vitamin K, along with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and manganese.

In 2018, researchers tested several vegetables for antioxidant activity. Watercress outperformed every vegetable on the list. It guards the body against chronic diseases, improves heart health, and lowers cholesterol. To incorporate watercress into your diet, put it in salads, sandwiches, and soups.