Throw some of these on your grocery list if you haven’t already!
by Joe Gould
31 calories per cup
Eat 2-3 half-cup servings per week
This fleshy green should be at the top of your list when it comes to vegetables. It’s rich with a healthy supply of iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin C, meaning it’s good for the circulatory system, bones, and fighting colds. “As far as vegetables go, this is the one I try hardest to get more guys to eat,” says Niki Kubiak, R.D., a private practice nutritionist in Omaha, Neb. Brocco-phobic? Try it on the sly: Slip it into stir-fries, onto pizza, or use raw chunks as a vehicle for your favorite dip.
83 calories per cup
Eat 4 servings per week
Yes, it’s true that tomatoes used to be called “love apples” and have a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. But that lore has nothing to do with why we picked the tomato as the best food for sexual health. Rather, tomatoes win their place on our chart-and their relatively high ranking overall-because of a single nutrient: lycopene.
This powerful antioxidant, which comes from the pigment that gives tomatoes their red color, may actually help fight off a number of diseases and ailments-most important for men, prostate cancer. Numerous studies show that men who have the most tomatoes and tomato-based products in their diet are less likely to develop prostate problems than men who rarely eat the stuff. And the good news for guys on the run: Tomatoes are also that rare food that’s more nutritious when cooked than when eaten raw. “Lycopene becomes more bio-available to the body after it’s been heated,” says nutritionist David Ricketts, a prostate-cancer sufferer who used his disease as the motivation for writing the cookbook Eat to Beat Prostate Cancer. “You can start off the day with a glass of tomato juice and have a tomato-based sauce a couple of times a week. However you can work it in, you’re pretty much on the way.”
148 calories per half cup
Eat 3-4 servings per week
When it comes to eating breakfast in the morning, there’s nothing better than a bowl of oatmeal to spike your energy levels and provide you with an hours-long supply of fuel. Oatmeal is also filled with stress-fighting and immunity-boosting zinc.
If that weren’t enough to convince you to pop a bowl in the microwave, keep in mind that oatmeal can also help promote weight loss and lower your risk of heart disease. Oatmeal is filled with high levels of soluble fiber that protect your heart and arteries by trapping and expelling cholesterol, dropping levels by up to 30 points or more in some cases, says Kubiak.
The best oatmeal may not be the most convenient, however. Those flavored, single-serving packs that litter grocery-store aisles are often filled with added sugar-and therefore excess calories. Instead, stick with the big tub of instant oatmeal and add your own fruit and calorie-free sweeteners, if you need them.
41 calories per half cup
Eat 1-2 cups per week
Of all the fruit you can eat, blueberries may be the absolute best. Whether you’re getting them raw, tossed into cereal, mixed in fruit salad or a smoothie, blueberries pack more fiber, vitamins, and minerals per ounce than any other fruit in the produce aisle. Chief among those nutrients are free-radical-fighting antioxidants. Free radicals, which increase in number as you get older, travel around your body damaging cells, promoting disease, and triggering signs of premature aging. And blueberries harness the firepower to knock them out of service.
Need another reason to eat them? How about your memory? Those same antioxidants that fight disease are also effective in helping keep connections between cells in your brain and nervous system healthy, ensuring clearer, quicker thinking and the best memory possible.
121 calories per 3-oz serving
Eat 3-4 servings per week
Salmon made out list for a number of reasons, but the biggest has got to be because its so densely stuffed with omega-3’s. These fatty acids are thought to slow memory loss as you age and boost heart health by regulating heart rhythms and keeping arteries and veins supple and free of blockages. While saturated fats lead to obesity, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish appear to correct and prevent obesity, according to a study published in Clinical Science.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Salmon is also an excellent source of protein. A three-ounce cooked serving contains 20 grams-making it ideal for building muscle and trimming fat. Besides helping stimulate your metabolism three to four times more than carbs or fat, protein is the absolute best food for helping fill you up, so you take in fewer calories and burn more. And that’s what being a fit food is all about.