3 foods you should eat every day

Jeffrey WestrbookJeffrey WestrbookStop focusing on consuming less of the "bad" foods. Instead, aim to incorporate more of the good foods into your diet. Not only will you feel less deprived, but you'll also end up being too full to crave the junk. Try these nutritional superstars for a result that's even greater than the sum of its wholesome parts:

1. Apples
Eating an apple a day can keep all kinds of doctors away, from physicians to dentists. Apples contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, which not only make them filling, but also work double time to reduce cholesterol. Some doctors even recommend drinking apple juice after eating a fatty meal to reduce the food's negative effects on your body.

Apples have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. And if that's not enough to make you bite into a Fuji or McIntosh, consider this: Chewing apples stimulates saliva, which scrubs stains off your teeth and freshens breath instantly.

Serving ideas: Spread peanut butter on sliced apples for a yummy taste of childhood. Or, dice them up in your oatmeal before cooking and sprinkle with cinnamon for an apple pie-flavored breakfast.

2. Spinach
For $1.50, the price of a large bag of spinach at most grocery stores, you can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, lower your cholesterol, and raise your I.Q. Spinach is an excellent bone-builder, containing vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium. It's also high in flavonoids, plant molecules that act as antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent breast, stomach, skin, and ovarian cancer. Spinach is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which not only keep you from getting sick in the winter, but also de-clog your arteries and reduce heart disease.

Spinach contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the brain, thereby preventing the effects of aging on mental activity.

Serving ideas: Sauté spinach with olive oil, pine nuts, and raisins - the olive oil will help you to better absorb its nutrients. Don't love the flavor so much? Try these spinach brownies from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook - you won't taste a thing.

3. Winter Squash
One cup of winter squash provides 170 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, a nutrient necessary for night vision that's hard to find in other foods. Squash's bright orange color comes from a high dose of carotenoids, antioxidants that prevent eye degeneration due to aging and filter out carcinogenic light rays. Makes you think of jack-o'-lanterns in a new "light," doesn't it?

Roast the seeds alongside the flesh and you'll reap a host of other benefits. Winter squash seeds contain a significant amount of L-tryptophan, which can help to prevent depression. They're also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral Americans don't consume nearly enough that's vital to almost every bodily function. Eating your daily dose of magnesium will lower your risks for heart disease, abdominal obesity, and diabetes.

Serving ideas: Mix canned or pureed squash with cinnamon and the sweetener of your choice for a decadent and surprisingly low-cal treat reminiscent of Thanksgiving candied yams. One-half cup of pureed pumpkin has 40 calories, in contrast with yam's 180 (and that's if you don't add butter or marshmallows). Or, roll the seeds in cinnamon and sugar, crunchy sea salt, or curry powder, then roast them in the oven. And don't limit yourself to pumpkin - delicata and kabocha squash seeds are equally nutritious, with their own unique, nutty flavors.

Click Here for: 5 MORE FOODS YOU SHOULD EAT EVERY DAY
By Hannah Geller


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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.