Every nutrition consultant has their list. So, here is mine. They are in no special order. They are all healthy foods that I recommend you eat on a regular basis, unless you are allergic. These foods emphasize what lacks in many American diets – fruits and vegetables for vitamins and antioxidants, minerals to fuel our metabolism, and healthy fats that are sources of Omega 3’s and vitamins A, D, and K.

Blueberries are one of the strongest antioxidants according to its ORAC value. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and is the rating system used to compare the antioxidant power of foods. Oxygen radicals, better known as free radicals, are destructive molecules found naturally in the body that can damage cells and DNA. We need to include sufficient antioxidants in our diet to effectively neutralize them. Blueberries also have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. All berries are great sources of antioxidants. Why blueberries compared to other berries? Two reasons. First, blueberries freeze better than other berries so you can use them year round. Second, studies show that fewer pesticides are used in the growing of blueberries, so you don’t necessarily have to purchase organic blueberries. Strawberries and raspberries are among the fruits that receive the most pesticides.

Apples also have lots of antioxidant power and we all know the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples have other benefits. They are a great source of pectin which helps to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels. However, apples are a fruit that you should purchase organic as high levels of pesticide are used in growing apples. And when I talk about apples, I mean the whole fruit. Apple juice is mostly sugar, lacking the fiber you get from the whole fruit.

Kale is a leafy green vegetable loaded with Vitamin K, calcium, iron, Vitamins A and C, protein, and fiber. It is best steamed or lightly stir fried. Leafy greens should be a staple in your diet. Others to try are Swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach.

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a gluten free whole grain so it is an excellent choice for those who have gluten allergies or are intolerant. It can be made into flour and used in cereals, breads, and pastas. It is loaded with minerals that we need for a healthy metabolism – calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iron. And a great source of fiber.

Almonds are a healthy source of good fat, protein, and dietary fiber. They make an excellent snack (please, just a handful). They contain no carbohydrates. The main nutrients are phosphorus, Vitamin E, and magnesium. Other nuts for your short list are walnuts and pecans. And men, don’t forget your pumpkin seeds – a great source of zinc for prostate health.

Wild salmon is the way to get our Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and keep our cell membranes fluid. Salmon is a great source of protein as well. Avoid farm raised or Atlantic salmon. What makes wild salmon healthy and red in color is what it eats in the wild – krill and shrimp that are loaded with antioxidants. Farm raised salmon is not naturally red, a food dye is added.

Avocado is a fruit, and one of the few fruits that contains fat. It has oleic acid, better known as Omega 9, which lowers blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. It also has Lutein, an antioxidant. Avocado is a great source of fiber, potassium, folate, Vitamin A, and beta-carotene.

Kefir is one that you may not have heard of. It is a lacto-fermented dairy product. Think of it as drinkable yogurt. Similar to yogurt it contains beneficial bacteria which aid our digestion. However, it also contains beneficial yeast, which can do battle with Candida. If you have a dairy allergy you can use coconut milk or coconut water kefir.

Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat and the best oil to use when cooking food. It maintains its properties from high heat. Most other oils oxidize from heat, increasing those aforementioned free radicals. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid. That means it is metabolizes faster and is used for energy by the body, and not stored as fat. It also contains lauric acid which is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, and is known to be good for the thyroid gland.

Butter is also a healthy saturated fat, particularly when it is organic and comes from a grass fed cow. It contains the fat soluble vitamins E, K, and D. It also has CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) that helps fight weight gain and butyric acid which is anti-viral and anti-cancer. For those with an allergy to the dairy protein casein, ghee (clarified butter) is an equally healthy option.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He is an expert in the field of Nutrition and Erectile Dysfunction. His office is in Thiensville, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.