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16 Healthiest Foods to Stock in Your Kitchen Year Around
If you want to live the healthiest life possible then you know that it’s all about the food. Your overall physical health is a direct reflection of what food you are eating and your lifestyle.
Although those processed foods that are pre-packaged are super convenient, no doubt about that, but when you cook from scratch with fresh, organic, unprocessed ingredients, you are ensuring that you are getting the healthiest nutrition possible. One of the most important ways to stay healthy is avoiding those processed foods as much as possible.
This list of 16 specific food items can help to steer you in the right direction. Keep these items in your kitchen at all times and you will always have healthy, base ingredients for your cooking and for snacking.
1. Yogurt and Kefir
Cultured dairy products that are made from organic, grass fed cow’s milk are super nutritious so you should always keep these things in stock. You can easily make these things yourself when you have a starter culture. Instead of cow’s milk there is also raw goat or sheep milk as another option. Although yogurt and kefir as both cultured milk products, they have very different types of beneficial bacteria, called probiotics.
The transient beneficial bacteria that yogurt has can keep your digestive system clean while providing “food” for the good bacteria that already live in your gut. Kefir helps to colonize your digestive system, something that yogurt cannot do. The active yeast and bacteria in kefir might provide even more nutritive value than yogurt does because it helps to digest the foods you eat and keep your colon clean. It also has minerals, essential amino acids, and vitamins that will assist your body with its own ability to heal itself.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to improve your nutrition is to add sprouted seeds to your salads or to your vegetable juice smoothies. Although it’s easy to sprout a wide variety seeds, sunflower seeds are a great choice because they are easy to find, easy to sprout, and are full of nutrition. You can always eat the seeds themselves, or you can go the sprout route!
Sprouts have more than 30 times the nutrient of the seeds themselves. Sprouts also have important enzymes, as much as 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and veggies.
Sprouts are perhaps the ultimate locally grown food that you can grow in your own kitchen if you don’t have much yard space. They are also extremely cheap, so price is no excuse for not growing them. There are numerous websites that can give you tips for growing sprouts in jars or small trays along with the nutritional breakdown of all types of different seeds.
3. Whey Protein
If you live in an area where you cannot obtain raw milk, you can always use a high-quality whey protein (pick one that is minimally processed) that comes from the milk of grass fed, organically raised cows. This way you can receive many of the same great benefits as you can from drinking raw milk. Whey protein has immunoglobulins, and beta-glucans, which are important for the protection of your immune system, as well as supporting your body’s own natural processes for detoxification.
Whey protein is sometimes referred to as the “gold standard” when we are talking about protein. If you consume whey protein 30 minutes after or before your workout, it will help your body to increase both its fat burning as well as muscle building potential. High-quality whey protein has amino acids that activate cellular mechanisms, including one that is called mTOR-14. This mechanism in the body promotes muscle protein synthesis as well as booting the thyroid, and protects against possible declining testosterone levels after intense exercise.
4. Organic Pastured Eggs
Proteins are essential to the maintenance, building, and repair of the tissues in the body, including your skin, muscles, and internal organs. Proteins are major parts of your body’s immune system and your hormones.
Although protein is found in many types of foods, only foods that come from animal sources, such as eggs and meat, contain complete proteins. This means that they contain all of the essential amino acids that the body needs.
Eggs are true powerhouses of nutrition, provided that they come from organically raised, free-range chickens. The difference between free range chicken eggs and commercially farmed eggs is due to the different diets eaten by these two groups of birds.
How can you tell if your eggs come from free range chickens? By the color of the yolk. Free range chickens have yolks that are bright orange. Dull, pale yellow yolks are a sign of caged hens that are fed an unnatural diet.
5. Raw Milk from Organic Grass Fed Cows
Although you may have heard otherwise, pasteurized milk is no safer than raw milk. Research data shows that even illnesses that are linked to raw milk are minimal and lower than those from pasteurized milk. Grass is a cow’s natural food. Corn and grains are not natural. Cows that eat grain, which is what confined animals eat, their entire body composition is altered, and this includes the natural balance of essential fats. Grass-fed cow’s milk contains more than 60 digestive enzymes and immunoglobulins (antibodies), healthy bacteria that are beneficial for your gastrointestinal tract, beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and protein in a highly available, 100 percent digestible form. It also includes vitamins A, B, D, C, E, and K along with a very balanced blend of necessary minerals, which include calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.
The best way to get raw milk is from a local, organic farm is the best way to ensure that you are getting the high-quality milk your body deserves.
Wonderful, old-fashioned butter, made from cows that have a natural grass-fed diet, is super rich in a compound called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. CLA is well-known for fighting diabetes, cancer, and can possibly help you to lose weight, something that no one can say about those trans-fat substitutes.
Vitamin A is necessary for many functions in your body from keeping your visions sharp to maintaining your endocrine system in its best shape. Butter is a great source of vitamin A that your body can easily absorb. It also has many of the other important vitamins that are fat soluble such as D, E, and K2. Many of these vitamins are lacking in our modern day diets. All natural butter is also rich in the important trace minerals we need like chromium, zinc, copper, manganese, and the powerful antioxidant, selenium.
Check out RealMilk.com7 if you need help finding a source of raw butter. If you like you can always try to make some yourself, there are plenty of step by step instructions and recipes available for making your own butter from scratch using raw, grass-fed milk.
7. Canned Alaskan Salmon
Unfortunately, pollution levels are such now that they have contaminated almost all fish to the point that they should be considered hazardous, especially for pregnant women and young children, if they are eaten in large amounts or in frequency. The best way to choose fish today is to pick ones that are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids but still low in contamination. Wild caught Alaskan salmon, not farmed salmon, work well and is one of the few fish that can still be recommended as safe.
Although frozen fish will stay fresh for quite some time, another safe option is to stock up on canned salmon. Be sure to read the labels and get “Alaskan Salmon.” Salmon from Alaska are not allowed to grow in farms like other types of salmon. Avoid Atlantic salmon as all of these will be farmed salmon. Sockeye salmon is also another good choice as it can’t be farmed so chances are excellent that it’s also wild. You can also look for BPA free options should you choose canned salmon. Other “safe” canned fish are pickled herring, anchovies, and sardines.
8. Fermented Vegetables
Something most people are not aware of is that your gastrointestinal tract (GI) contains as much as 100 trillion bacteria. They actually outnumber the cells in your body by 2 to 1! If your GI tact is out of whack, many health problems tend to follow including allergies and autoimmune disorders. If you are afflicted with any type of chronic or major illness then it’s imperative that you heal and seal your gut. You need to balance the mixture of microorganisms that live in your GI tract. That is the key to maintaining a healthy and strong and immune system.
Fermented foods are necessary for a healthy GI tract. Just a quarter to a half cup of fermented food eaten along with your three daily meals, can have a dramatic effect on your overall health. Yogurt, kefir, pickles, and sauerkraut are just a few examples of fermented foods. These types of foods are readily available for sale if you like or you can make your own and experiment with different types of vegetables.
9. Himalayan Salt
Salt is essential to life. The human body must have salt in order to survive. However, there are many differences between the highly processed and refined salt that is commonly found in our foods and in table salt, and the unrefined, more natural salt such as sea salt and Himalayan salt. Processed salt can promote damaging health effects while Himalayan salt can assist with many biological processes such as the transport of nutrients to and from the cells of your body, increasing the cells in your brain that are responsible for your long-term planning and creative centers in your brain. It can also help to regulate the body’s blood pressure, supports the function of your adrenal glands, and helps your brain communicate with your muscles so you can move on demand.
Natural salt that is not processed, such as Himalayan salt, is about 85 percent sodium chloride and 15 percent natural trace minerals. There are 84 of them including phosphorus, silicon, and vanadium. After exercising or on hot days, or anytime you find you are sweating profusely, you can make your own healthy “sports” drink and replace those lost electrolytes and minerals by simply mixing a pinch of this healthy salt with the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water.
Although many people think of these as vegetables, they are actually classified as fruit. Avocados are great as they are low in fructose yet high in those healthy monounsaturated fats, which your body can burn easily for the energy it needs. Research shows that avocados are great for their ability to help the vascular function in the body and are very heart healthy. They are so easy to eat, too, either plain or chopped into salads, or the famous guacamole which you can put on just about anything from sandwiches to meats.
Avocados are high in potassium, too, with more than twice as much as you find in bananas, and this will help to balance that vitally important sodium to potassium ratio. Just one avocado has almost 20 essential nutrients your body needs, including fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and folic acid. Besides eating them as they are, you can also use avocado as a fat substitute in recipes that use butter or other types of oil. Avocados are also one of the safest fruits you can buy, even if they are conventionally grown, so you won’t need to spend more money buying organic avocados. Their very thick skins protect the soft inner meat from pesticides. Find out more about avocados.
11. Homemade Broth
Nothing beats homemade bone broth for speeding healing and when you are recuperating from sickness. Bone broth helps to seal and heal your gastrointestinal tract. It’s full of those healthy fats and important minerals such as phosphorus, silicon, calcium, sulfur, and trace minerals. It also contains the broken down materials from the tendons and cartilage, which means this broth contains glucosamine and chondroitin.
It’s so easy to create your bone broth as well as being extremely cost effective. Simply make use of the leftover carcass bones that might otherwise simply be given to the dogs or thrown out. Bone broth can also be frozen for later use. Just be sure to use bones from animals that were organically raised, grass fed animals, whether it’s beef or chicken. If you aren’t sure about how to make homemade broth, the internet is full of recipes and step by step directions. This is a great way to save money and improve your health all at the same time. So don’t throw out that carcass from Thanksgiving! Make some healthy bone broth!
12. Macadamia Nuts and Pecans
There is mounting research that shows that tree nuts might actually help you live longer while helping you to lose weight. It’s not so surprising, however, when you consider the fact that nuts are very high in the healthy fats that, even though you might have heard otherwise, your body must have in order for it to work properly. The nutritional makeup of nuts very closely matches the ideal ratio of what you might think of the basic building blocks of the body. The fat in nuts can make up for the greatest amount of your daily calories, followed by a moderate amount of protein, then a low amount of non-vegetable carbohydrates.
Macadamia nuts and pecan nuts are highly recommended as they contain the highest amount of healthy fats while staying on the low end when speaking of protein and carbohydrates. Macadamia nuts have a substantial amount (around 60 percent) of monosaturated fat called oleic acid. This is about the same level that is found in olives, which are also well known for their health benefits.
13. Raw Garlic
Raw garlic should not only be in your kitchen but it should be in your daily diet. Raw garlic improves your body’s own natural abilities to protect you from things like osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
Mounting research shows that it decreases your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Raw garlic is also antimicrobial as well. It’s a natural antifungal, antibiotic, antiviral and even anti-parasitic compound! In order to give you the best health benefits, garlic must be fresh. To stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, fresh garlic must be crushed or chopped. Your body will turn alliinase into a sulfenic acid that destroys free radicals quicker than any other any other compound known to man.
To activate the medicinal compounds in garlic, squeeze a fresh clove with a spoon just before you swallow it or before you put it in your juice or smoothie. Just one medium or large size clove is sufficient for most people.
14. Fresh Herbs
Everyone knows that herbs are great in home cooking to increase or add flavor as well as to add a little spice but the main secret about many herbs is that they are key to improving the nutritional density of the foods you put them into. For example, plain old black pepper can actually increase the bioavailability of almost all other foods. Herbs protect your body from disease, clean toxins from your blood, as well as provide you with vitamins and minerals. Whenever you flavor your meals with herbs and/or spices, you are upgrading your meals without adding one single calorie.
You simply can’t go wrong by using herbs and spices! Just let your taste buds lead you to choose which ones are right for you. If you are looking for certain medicinal properties, then check out other articles on our website that list the medicinal role of most spices. Turmeric is a perfect example of a spice that has extremely potent as well as scientifically proven benefits such as protection from cancer. Read more about garden herbs to protect from cancer.
15. Organic Coconut Oil
You’ve probably heard a lot about coconut oil lately, and with good reason. It’s excellent for your thyroid, metabolism, and helps your body destroy viruses such as herpes, HIV, measles, and Giardia.
Coconut oil has medium chain fatty acids that have a large number of healthy benefits such as battling pathogens and increasing the body’s metabolism rate. Also, there has been some very exciting research lately that has found that coconut oil can possibly serve as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
This oil is very easy on your digestive system and won’t spike your blood sugar. For a super quick boost of energy, simply down a tablespoon of coconut oil, or add some to your morning coffee, or smoothie. Read the labels to be sure you are getting organic, unrefined, unbleached coconut oil that does not contain GMO ingredients and that has not been heat processed. You can uses coconut oil in countless other ways besides eating and cooking. It’s great for beauty products, even first aid treatments.
16. Greek yogurt
Great for a snack anytime, especially when topped a few berries or almonds. Greek yogurt has 18 grams of protein and (nonfat versions) contain a skinny 100 calories. Oh so indulgent and creamy! This is a definite exception to the “if it tastes good it must be bad for you” rule! Plain Greek yogurt has double the protein, half the sodium, and half the carbs of conventional yogurt. You can always use Greek yogurt in place of any other fat when you are baking or cooking. For example, if a recipe for bread calls for half a cup of vegetable oil or butter, you can safely substitute Greek yogurt. Try using Greek yogurt in place of cream cheese, oil, sour cream, or mayo. For example, try making bean burritos and topping them with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthy boost. Most people never notice the difference in flavor.
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