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Food Basics: The Best Unprocessed Foods You Aren't Eating

By Stepy Kamei

For all the foods which are so readily available for us to consume, many of them are highly processed or pumped full of artificial ingredients to the point where they can offer little to no nutritional benefit at all. This is why it's best to stick with whole, natural foods which have been processed as little as possible, if at all, and consume these foods as often as you can. I should point out that this is not the same thing as suggesting that you eat the exact same foods and meals every day. It can get boring eating the same foods every day, which is why it's a good thing there are enough healthy foods out there to rotate into your diet so you're experiencing better overall health and well-being, every day. 

Spinach and Other Leafy Greens

Whether it's in a salad or soup, spinach can do you no wrong. Spinach is full of important nutrients, including iron, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein, a compound which protects the body from macular degeneration. Add spinach into your salads or on the side of a lean protein for a super healthy meal. Alternatively, you can rotate spinach with kale, bok choy, or romaine lettuce to get equally good benefits to your health. 

Yogurt or Kefir -- or Other Fermented Foods

Full-fat Greek yogurt is a fantastic snack to have. Opt for a brand which leaves in healthy bacteria, known as probiotics, yet doesn't add too much sugar or artificial flavorings. This kind of yogurt can greatly improve digestive health as well as boost your body's immune system. If you can't stomach dairy for any reason, give soy yogurt or other fermented foods such as kimchi, pickles, or kombucha a try.

Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Other Bright Veggies

Have you ever wondered what gives tomatoes and bell peppers their distinctive bright hue? It's thanks to a compound known as lycopene, which is also found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. Lycopene has been shown in numerous studies to reduce a person's risk of developing many different types of cancer, as well as coronary artery disease. Lycopene has also been known to improve eye health. 

Black, Pinto, or Fava Beans

Any well-balanced diet needs to consist of a stable source of protein and fiber, and black beans can provide these in abundance. Black beans can be bought in bulk for low prices and prepared in large quantities and stored for use throughout the week. Out of all the foods on this list, black beans may be the most versatile in terms of adding them to different meals every day. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- you can't go wrong with adding black beans to at least one of these meals. 

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