From energy healers to thyroid doctors, we're surrounded by a wealth of experts who provide relevant information that can improve our health and well-being. But sometimes, despite all our best intentions, it can simply be a case of information overload, and sifting through it all is just too time-consuming, especially in a society where the clock is always ticking. So how do we get to the heart of this valuable advice to find the recommendations that pertain to us as individuals and are relatively easy habits to adopt?
To find out, we turned to our informed network of nutritionists to reveal the one food they eat every single day for optimum health. While the results are varied, we feel confident enough to incorporate at least one of these into our own daily diet without having to sacrifice or give up anything: Healthy living made easy. Now that's our kind of motto. Ahead, we share the six healthy foods to eat every day to maintain optimal nutrition.
From your summer salad and to a wintry crockpot, legumes are a healthy staple we should eat all year round, and registered dietitian Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CD, and author of Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain, makes it a point to eat legumes every day.
"They're a great plant-based source of protein and provide a wide array of B vitamins that help with energy," she said. "They're a fantastic source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut and keep our microbiomes nice and healthy."
Not only that, but Babb assures us that beans are also a staple food in all the Blue Zone regions—aka places with the highest concentration of people who live to be 100 or older—around the world. "I eat bean soups, snack on hummus, munch on crispy chickpeas, or throw lentils into a salad," she said. Mix them with rice and you have the ultimate protein.
Lauren Kelly, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Kelly Wellness, also keeps legumes on high rotation. "I eat beans practically every day, whether that's chickpeas and kidney beans in my salad, a vegetarian bean-based chili with sliced avocado for dinner, or black beans are great in an egg or tofu scramble with lots of veggies (e.g., tomato, spinach, onion, broccoli) in the a.m.," she said.
When we think of the perfect Sunday brunch, eggs immediately come to mind. From scrambled to omelet or sunny side up, these protein-rich delights are a MyDomaine breakfast favorite (also see how to boil them once and for all). But Kelly doesn't save them for the weekend; she eats one almost every morning for breakfast.
"If I don't have it at breakfast I'll often have one with my dinner," she said. "For breakfast, I may just have it over a piece of whole grain bread if I'm on the go or with a few pieces of lox and a side of spinach, peppers, mushrooms and a few pieces of baked potato. For dinner, I love an egg served over easy over sautéed cauliflower rice with veggies (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms) with low-sodium teriyaki sauce and a little sriracha. It's so good!"
"It is a non-negotiable no matter where I am," she said. "I love to hydrate right after I wake up, I find it is an easy way to get in 24 ounces of water toward your goal early on. It helps me to feel awake (yes, even before coffee), it gives me energy, and while research is still out, it has been said to aid in weight loss, digestion, and immunity. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can also prevent wrinkles, so I even think of it as a beauty elixir. But above all else, it's also very comforting to me, helps to flush bloat after a night out or a salty meal, and helps to start my day off on a healthy foot to keep me focused and motivated as the day goes on."
Sidenote: I’m drinking it right now! If you love lemon water too, then try this delicious recipe.
While we traditionally think of garlic as the ultimate flavor enhancer, it's also one of nature's finest medicinal foods and packs a punch in the health and wellness stakes. Celebrity wellness maven, birth doula, and Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas (she's helped everyone from Alicia Keys to Serena Williams) is a big fan.
"I eat garlic every damn day," she said. "No matter what, I temper my greens with garlic, I add it to my salad dressings that I whip up from scratch; all the soups I am eating have a base of onions, garlic, and celery."
Thomas's mom put garlic in a lot of their family meals growing up, and she attributes her good health not only to healthy lifestyle practices but to the antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral foods she eats—garlic being the main one.
"Garlic is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese," she said. "It boosts the immune system and is a must-have pantry ingredient to combat the common cold. It lowers blood cholesterol, which can lower the risk of heart disease. The high doses of sulfur compounds in garlic can protect against toxic heavy metals, decreasing the risk of organ damage. It combats candida and other fungal infections that can colonize the gut or vaginal canal. When you chop up garlic cloves and leave them exposed to the air for an hour, it helps to release the medicinal power of the allium, the active ingredient in the garlic."
While it might not sound appetizing at first read, bone broth is brimming with nutritional value and actually tastes delicious too. Just ask Carly Brawner, holistic nutritionist, health coach, and founder of Frolic and Flow. While there are a handful of foods (green veggies, coconut oil, saurkraut, etc.) she consumes daily, the primary one is bone broth.
"Bone broth is nutrient-dense as well as protein- and glycine-rich," she said. "Glycine, in particular, helps protect and heal the gut as well support the body's detoxification process. As someone who has had gut problems in the past, foods that help me support and maintain a healthy microbiome are an important part of my diet."
If you're unsure how to incorporate this into your diet, Brawner suggests adding it as a base to soup, cooking your veggies in it, or sipping a little from a mug (about 1/2 cup). "Always choose broth made from pasture-raised animals, not those from conventional farms," she advised.
While we know how important it is to eat our greens, only 1 in 10 Americans eat enough fruit and vegetables every day. Kelly makes sure to do so and recommends we all do too.
"Whether it's arugula in my salad, spinach, and kale in my smoothie, sautéed green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, swiss chard, bok choy) with my dinner, or collard greens around my burger, I always fit in my greens," she said.
If you need some recipe ideas, here are seven crazy-good salads you'll actually want to eat.
Do you eat one of these foods every day? What's the one ingredient you consume daily to stay healthy?
This post was originally published on February 1, 2017, and has since been updated.