MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


11 healthy foods to try

Melissa Bess, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County, University of Missouri Extension


Healthy eating should include foods from all the food groups and focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, and beans and legumes.


  1. Spinach, bok choy or kale: Toss out the iceberg lettuce and reach for some leafy greens for your salad. Dark, leafy greens have more nutrients than light-colored iceberg lettuce. They are also higher in B vitamins, lutein (for vision health), folate, vitamins A and K, and fiber. Add some other veggies, some lean protein and a dab of dressing to the leafy greens for a healthy, colorful salad.


  2. PomegranatePomegranates: This may seem like an exotic fruit, but it’s easy to prepare and enjoy. Remove the seeds (or juice sacs) from the fruit and toss into recipes. Top oatmeal, salads, desserts, or enjoy the seeds themselves. This yummy fruit is high in potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants that help fight and protect against many diseases.


  3. Flaxseed: Flax is the best source of ALA, which is a plant-source of omega-3 fatty acids that help lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and prevent blood clots. You can buy either ground or milled flaxseed in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. It is inexpensive and can be added to hot cereals, oatmeal, breads, muffins or other recipes.


  4. Beans, especially black beans: All beans are inexpensive and high in potassium, fiber and protein. Black beans are full of antioxidants that are thought to help improve brain power. Add beans to salads or soups, replace the meat in your meal with beans or make a bean dip for a side dish.


  5. Salmon: Like other fatty fish, salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids. The body better utilizes the omega 3’s from fish than from plant sources. Salmon is also high in vitamin D, some B vitamins and protein, and low in calories and unhealthy fat. Enjoy 2 servings of fatty fish — like salmon — a week for heart-healthy benefits.


  6. Quinoa, uncookedQuinoa: This food is commonly referred to as a grain, but is a relative of leafy greens. Quinoa is a seed that is rich in protein and has a nutty flavor when cooked. It is low in calories and fat, but high in iron, magnesium and fiber. You can add quinoa to soup, or have it with some berries or nuts for a breakfast cereal or as a side dish.


  7. Low-fat cheese: Cheese is a good source of calcium and protein. Try replacing higher fat cheeses with low-fat cheese including mozzarella, Swiss or other types of cheese made from 2 percent or skim milk.


  8. Bell peppers, especially red: Red bell peppers have vitamin C, fiber, vitamins A and K, potassium and folate. Add some red bell pepper strips to a salad, cook them with fajitas or have them as a snack with some dip.


  9. Blueberries: This tasty fruit contains fiber and vitamin C, helps maintain bones and teeth and helps the body absorb iron. Blueberries contain antioxidants, which help prevent and fight many diseases. Blueberries may also play a role in brain health. Buy frozen blueberries when they are not in season and have with cereal, desserts or oatmeal.


  10. Low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt: It is creamier and thicker than regular yogurt and contains less calcium and vitamin D, but more protein and less sodium. You can add fruit to plain low-fat Greek yogurt or use it in place of sour cream to add to foods or to make dips.


  11. EdamameEdamame: This is a green soybean that can be eaten fresh as a nutritional snack food or side dish. You can find frozen edamame in many grocery stores, which can be easily steamed in the microwave. Edamame is low in calories, high in fiber and contains vitamin A, vitamin C and protein.


If you have questions or ideas for future articles, please contact Melissa Bess at 573-346-2644 or


University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri

Last update: Monday, May 09, 2011