healthy foods

21 Healthy Foods to Include in your Diet: Get Healthier with Affordable Options

One of the biggest challenges for anyone who wants to get healthier is planning and organising their diet. Most of the time, the lack of knowledge about fundamental nutrition aspects impedes maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

For this reason, we would like to share a list of 21 foods anyone can consume. Forget expensive foods that are hard to find! Here, you’ll learn some affordable, nutritious, and tasty food options that you can start including in your diet today. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry, we’ve also included some plant-based sources of protein options!

It is worth remembering that you must understand what macronutrients are – fats, carbohydrates and proteins -and what are the general recommendations for daily consumption. If you can afford it, we will always recommend that you consult your doctor or a nutritionist, who will be able to better advise you on how you can improve your diet and life overall – with foods and amounts suitable for your body.

Carbohydrates (Carbs)

Carbs are the primary energy source for your body. You should never go on crazy diets that drastically cut carbohydrates or reduce intake. You may experience weakness and unwellness and may have side effects such as bad mood, and hair loss, among others.

According to The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM), carbs can range from 45% to 65% of the daily calorie intake. Using this calculator, you can estimate how many calories you should eat daily. Remember that such estimations will never be as efficient as a nutritionist’s, but they can help you start working on your diet to get healthier. A professional can plan your diet much more efficiently than general recommendations, which can help you achieve your goals faster.

Eating carbohydrates is not difficult, but choosing the right carbs – with good levels of sugar, fat, or gluten, for example – can become overwhelming. Here are some good options for your diet:

1. Sweet potatoes (cooked, baked in skin)

Sweet Potatoes are one of our favourites because it’s tasty and it has several health benefits. One of them is boosting your immunity since a 100g serving provides 19.6 mg of Vitamin C.

It is also an excellent source of beta-carotene – a powerful antioxidant converted into Vitamin A. Antioxidants can help to prevent cellular damage and reduce the risk of several types of cancer.

Here are some of the nutritional facts:

100g Serving90 kcal

2. Quinoa (cooked)

Quinoa can be considered a superfood because, besides the carbs, it is also a complete protein source, containing all the essential amino acids. It’s also rich in fiber, which maintains the proper functioning of the intestine.

In addition, quinoa is also gluten-free, has a low glycemic index (good for blood sugar control), and it’s high in antioxidants and essential minerals like Iron and Magnesium.

Here are some of the nutritional facts:

100g Serving120 kcal

3. Oats (raw)

Oat is another good option, and you can have it for breakfast. It is another food rich in protein, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals such as Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Potassium, and Vitamin B6. It’s cost-effective, and you can incorporate it into your diet differently.

While bulking, I blended it with milk, banana, peanut butter, and whey protein. Besides being a complete meal, it was delicious!

Here are some of the nutritional facts:

100g Serving307 kcal

4. White rice (boiled)

White rice is an excellent resource because it’s easy to cook and highly versatile – you can mix anything to add flavour. It is rich in carbohydrates and an excellent quick energy source. It’s also gluten-free and easy to digest.

I chose white rice and not brown rice for the simple fact that it is easier to eat. Brown rice is high in fibre, so it can be challenging to eat daily, especially if you need to consume large amounts. If you don’t have an issue with that, brown rice is definetely an excellent alternative!

Here are some of the nutritional facts:

100g Serving120 kcal

5. Chickpeas (cooked)

Chickpeas are high in fibre, so you’ll feel fuller whenever you eat them. This makes chickpeas great for helping with weight control. It has a low glycemic index (good for controlling blood sugar) and can help lower cholesterol and reduce cancer risk.

It is essential to mention that you will find better nutrients in raw food, not canned!

Here are some of the nutritional facts:

100g Serving164 kcal

Fats: 3 types and some of the best sources of healthy fats

First of all, we need to understand a key concept. Fats are an essential macronutrient to keep the body functioning at its best. Its purpose is to help the body develop, provide energy, supporting the absorption of vitamins, hormone production, and organ protection.

Still, it is important to mention that there are three types of fat and that trans and saturated fats are bad for your health – so it’s better to avoid those. In contrast, unsaturated fat is considered a healthy fat, and plenty of foods provide that. To understand more about fats, you can read this article!

In addition, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes, we should consume 20% to 35% of our daily calories in fat. You can use this calculator to find how many calories you should ingest daily. Remember that each organism is unique, and balancing your diet can affect your health, so we highly recommend you consult a nutritionist. Nothing will be as assertive as the look of an expert.

Now let’s jump to 5 good options of healthy-fats foods:

1. Avocado

An avocado is an excellent option because it is highly versatile and high in a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and may prevent cancer. In addition, avocados also contain lutein (which is related to eye health) and are a good source of Potassium.

Here are some nutritional facts:

100g Serving160 kcal
Total Fat14.7g
Saturated Fat2.1g

2. Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds are another good option because, besides being one of the best plant-based sources of omega 3, which has many benefits for the body, it is another highly healthy food. You can mix it with sweet, savoury, or even salads.

In addition, chia seeds also provide protein, antioxidants, fibre, iron and calcium. If you don’t like Chia Seeds, you can replace them with Flaxseeds – as it is another excellent option.

Here are some nutritional facts about the chia seeds:

100g Serving490 kcal
Total Fat30.8g
Saturated Fat3.2g

3. Eggs

In addition to being an excellent source of protein and good fat, the egg yolk contains vitamin D, B, lutein and other nutrients.

Sometimes it’s hard to eat well at breakfast, so eggs have become an excellent option to make a complete meal – with proteins and fats in a single food. You can eat it with toast or complement your breakfast with another carbohydrate.

Here are some nutritional facts:

100g Serving143 kcal
Total Fat9.5g
Saturated Fat3.1g

4. Salmon or fatty fishes

Salmon or fatty fishes are excellent fat sources since they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. According to the American Heart Association, we should eat two servings of fatty fish per week. This can include fresh tuna, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines or trout.

Here are some nutritional facts about salmon, for example:

100g Serving206 kcal
Total Fat12.4g
Saturated Fat2.5g

5. Nuts

Nuts have several benefits for your health. They are rich in healthy fats, protein, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You can eat it as a snack or mix it with a salad. Be aware that nuts are normally high caloric foods, so it’s important to watch out for what you consume!

Here are some nutritional facts about walnuts, for example:

100g Serving653 kcal
Total Fat65.2g
Saturated Fat6.1g

Protein: animal and plant-based sources

In short, the primary function of protein is to build and repair muscle and tissue. It helps us maintain and develop our bodies throughout life, helping to build muscle mass and maintain weight.

According to the Dietary Reference Intake Report, a sedentary adult should consume at least 0.8 grams/kg of body weight (or 0.36 pounds). The same guide shows that if you are already working out and your goal is to gain muscle mass, you should consume 1.2-2.0 grams/kg of body weight.

If you want to learn more about it, you can read our article about protein intake benefits. Now let’s jump to some of the best high-protein foods, including animal and plant-based sources:

Some of the best animal protein sources

1. Chicken breast

It is a lean protein and an excellent source of amino acids. In addition to protein, chicken also contains Vitamin B12, Zinc, Iron, and Copper.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving165 kcal
Total Fat3.6g
Saturated Fat1g

2. Tuna (or any fatty fish)

One of the most significant advantages of fatty fish is that it is an excellent protein source, high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce bad cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks.

Here, we’ll talk about tuna because it’s the most affordable option, but other fatty fish like trout, salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines, can provide similar benefits. It’s important to mention that fresh food will always be a better option regarding the amount and quality of nutrients – compared to canned or similar products.

If you can eat fresh tuna, even better; otherwise, here are the canned tuna nutrition facts:

100g Serving128 kcal
Total Fat3g
Saturated Fat0.8g

3. Round steak (or any lean cuts of beef)

Steaks are rich in L-Carnitine (which helps with fat metabolism) and other minerals such as Zinc, Selenium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, and Calcium. These minerals are responsible for preventing a series of diseases, such as anaemia.

In addition, steaks provide creatine and other essential vitamins (B12, B3, B6, B2, and B5), making them one of the most complete protein sources you can consume.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving186 kcal
Total Fat5.6g
Saturated Fat1.9g

4. Eggs

Eggs can be considered a superfood since an egg provides Folate, Vitamin A, D, E, K, B5, B6, B12, B2, Phosphorus, and Selenium. It also raises HDL (the “good” cholesterol), contains antioxidants, and is low in calories.

Although egg has considerably less protein than other suggested foods, we include it in this article because it’s an excellent protein source for breakfast, when people usually consume less protein.

If you normally eat many eggs, it’s a good idea to keep the egg white and separate some of the yolks – but not all of them, since the yolk also contains excellent nutrients.

Here are some nutrition facts:

100g Serving131 kcal
Total Fat9g
Saturated Fat2.5g

Plant-based protein sources

1. Tempeh

Tempeh is an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians as it is an excellent source of protein, besides being delicious and versatile. It is a complete soy-based food that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to stay healthy.

You can prepare it in dishes and sandwiches since it can be baked, steamed, or sauteed. Tempeh is also a great source of vitamins and minerals like Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Manganese, Riboflavin, and Niacin.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving193 kcal
Total Fat10.8g
Saturated Fat2.2g

2. Peanuts

Amazingly, peanuts are classified as legumes rather than nuts. It’s a great source of healthy protein, nutrients and fats – which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

It is also a versatile food for many dishes, snacks, and desserts. If you don’t like eating them raw, you can also include peanut butter in your diet. Still, you should pay close attention to the amounts you eat, since it is a high-calorie food.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving567 kcal
Total Fat49.2g
Saturated Fat6.8g

3. Almonds

Almonds are highly nutritious nuts with good protein levels, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants, which help prevent inflammation and diseases like cancer. They are an excellent source of Vitamin E, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamin B12, Copper, and Phosphorus. Like peanuts, it’s a highly caloric food, so be careful when considering adding it to your diet.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving546 kcal
Total Fat47g
Saturated Fat3.5g

4. Tofu

Tofu is a soy-based food with lower protein levels, but rich in minerals and vitamins. It is an excellent option to include in a vegan or vegetarian diet, as it is a little less caloric and is a good source of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Phosphorus and other nutrients.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving145 kcal
Total Fat8.7g
Saturated Fat1.3g

5. Lentils (Cooked)

There are many different lentils, so they are a great option to include in your diet. They are incredibly nutritious and affordable, so it’s another excellent source of protein. Some of the vitamins and minerals in lentils are Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese, among others. Also, it is a fibrous food, which can help improve your bowel health.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving114 kcal
Total Fat0.4g
Saturated Fat0.1g

6. Quinoa (Cooked)

Although quinoas have lower protein levels, they contain all nine essential amino acids and carbohydrates – and are also low in fat and fiber. Those facts make quinoas an excellent ingredient to add to soups and salads, making these meals even more complete. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper, and others.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving120 kcal
Total Fat1.9g
Saturated Fat0g

7. Chickpea (Cooked)

Chickpeas are also excellent vitamins, minerals, and fibre sources, offering higher protein levels than Quinoa. Some of its nutrients are Iron, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese. It is also a relatively low-calorie food, making it an excellent choice for a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Here are some of the nutrition facts:

100g Serving164 kcal
Total Fat2.6g
Saturated Fat0.3g

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