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9 Absolutely Essential Nutrients—And Yummy Ways to Get Each One
Of course you know that your body needs certain nutrients to function. Problem is, it can be hard to figure out exactly what you should eat to ensure that you’re getting all of the good stuff. We chatted with Keri Gans, R.D., author ofThe Small Change Diet, to find out some easy and delicious ways to consume all of your essential nutrients right now. And yes, treats are included!
Protein keeps you full throughout the day and helps your body repair your muscles. Get your fill by making a stir fry using boneless chicken breast and lots of colorful fresh veggies. Serve it on top of a bed of quinoa—the chicken and quinoa are both packed with protein!
MORE:The Best Protein Sources
This nutrient is a triple whammy: It fills you up, keeps you regular,andlowers your cholesterol. And oatmeal is a great way to get it. An easy way to make your oatmeal extra yum: Pop it in the microwave with a sliced banana (cooking it with fruit makes it extra sweet), then add a tablespoon of natural almond butter, and sprinkle with chia seeds. Or try one of these healthy (and pretty!) oatmeal topping ideas.
It may seem counterintuitive, but your body needs fat to be able to burn fat, which is why this is super important. An easy way to stock up: Rock the guac! Try swapping guac for mayo on your sandwiches to keep the creamy effect and get your nutrients. Or, if you’re not a sandwich fan, add guac to your salad to reap the benefits (just go light on the dressing, or else your meal could get overly caloric).
MORE:10 Insanely Delicious Guacamole Recipes
Omega-3s are good for your heart, and they’re anti-inflammatory. Load up on lox to get your fix—the fish is filled with it. Make a Sunday bagel remix with two slices of whole wheat bread, 2 wedges of Laughing Cow garlic and herb cheese, lox, tomato, and onion. Or, if you aren’t into smoked salmon, get your fill of omega-3s with one of these other five safe fish.
Folic acid helps your body produce healthy new cells. And if you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s absolutely crucial for the safety of your baby. To be sure you're getting enough of it, bring on the Brussels sprouts—they’ve got tons of folic acid. Sauté them with a little garlic and olive oil. So good! Or try one of these six other yummy Brussels sprouts recipes.
This vitamin is said to increase your immunity, meaning it can help prevent those annoying winter colds. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which may help prevent certain diseases and slow aging. For a different yet delicious way to stock up, try blood oranges. Have them with your lunch, add them to stir fries for a citrus-y flavor, or even devour one for dessert.
Iron aids in the formation of red blood cells, which help transport oxygen in your body. What’s more, if you don’t getenoughiron, you could become anemic, which means you’ll be tired all the time—no good. Whip up a bean-filled chili to get your iron supply—legumes are filled with the nutrient. Top it with a dollop of low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt to add a creamy texture.
Remember the whole "milk is good for your bones" business? It still holds up: Calcium is essential for improving bone strength, and smoothies are a great way to pack in a bunch of your nutrients at once, including calcium. Try mixing low-fat yogurt, almond milk, almond butter and some fruit—the low-fat yogurt is loaded with calcium, and many varieties of almond milk are now fortified with the nutrient, too.
MORE:Do You Get Enough Caclium?
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, which is absolutely necessary for bone strength (as we just explained). To get yours without basking in the (cold, cold) sun, whip up a mug of hot chocolate—with skim milk, of course. The milk is fortified with vitamin D, which, weirdly, isn’t in many other foods (fatty fish, eggs, and certain breakfast cereals are the big three dietary sources).
Video: 9 Nutrition Rules for Building Muscle | Jim Stoppani's Shortcut to Strength
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