Every year, we make New Years resolutions. Sometimes, we stretch ourselves a little bit further than we realistically thought possible. I know for me it helps to have advice and suggestions that I can incorporate into my life seamlessly without trying too hard or hurting my wallet too much. They are decisions I can feel good about ADDING to my life to make me healthier, more focused, less stressed and more energized. As an athlete, yogi, health nut and food system nerd, I believe that the best way to make those positive changes is through food—like some of these that you should definitely ADD to your life this year.
It takes some getting used to a first—and the right store—but once you find good papaya, it is irresistible. Papaya adds color and curbs your sweet tooth without really having a lot of natural sugar. It has as much potassium as a banana and contains 200% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Papaya has so many other nutrients, too, to boost eye sight and reduce stress. You can find the best papaya at your local Hispanic or Mexican grocery store.
Coconut oil—or anything coconut, really
I’m not a coconut fan. The texture really gets me. But the health benefits are incredible, so coconut oil became a great alternative. It’s 50% lauric acid, a substance that counters the effects of saturated fats and helps not hurts your heart. Don’t think it’s only good as a substitute in recipes, either: coconut oil benefits damaged hair and combats skin dryness. Lather up!
Rooibos red tea
When I discovered this tea my junior year of college, it was a life saver. It contains no caffeine—unlike black, white and green tea—is naturally grown, picked, and brewed, and is nutrient-dense. It contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants, which is perfect for those who suffer from tendonitis like myself. The best part? It puts you right to sleep.
If you’re looking for a healthy fix to fill you up and give you protein, you should be eating more lentils. For vegetarians or those who want to decrease their consumption of meat, they’re a fantastic option. Lentils are also a great source of fiber and an unlikely source of iron: they contain 37% of the recommended daily intake. You can buy them in red, brown, green and black, but the health benefits are the same. You can make lentil soup, dal, cold salads, falafel, risottos and more!
This super veggie will give you all the energy you need for your workout or to study for a midterm or the GRE by increasing and improving your blood flow. Keeping with the brain power theme, the substance betaine found in beets is also used in some treatments for depression. They provide a lot of the same benefits as papaya, especially with regards to potassium and Vitamin C. The tops of the beets, those leafy greens, can also be used. It’s safe to say it’s a well-rounded vegetable!
Kale and Swiss chard
You’ve always been told to eat your dark, leafy green vegetables. Usually, that meant spinach or Brussel sprouts. Now, you might want to add kale and Swiss chard to your grocery list. They provide the same benefits that other leafy greens do, but you can do more with them than, say, spinach. Kale chips—especially homemade ones—are easy to make and a great brain-boosting snack. Swiss chard belongs to the same family as beets and quinoa, boosting the immune system.