We all know that our bodies need a certain amount of different nutrients to survive. Remember the healthy eating pyramid from grade school days? Well, each of those little food types add up to the larger picture of your overall nutritional intake.
And while the food pyramid is helpful, let’s be honest — it’s not very innovative. It lists the classics (i.e. milk for calcium, chicken for protein), but it’s not where you’d look if you want to get creative. That’s why we’re here!
Keep reading for some surprising — and delicious — foods and drinks that are chock-full of the nutrients you need to live a balanced life. Because adding in these ingredients to your routine can add up to big things in the long run.
What are the first things you think of when planning your protein source for the day? Likely some kind of meat like chicken (if you're a meat eater), or tofu for vegans and vegetarians. How much protein you need varies depending on your weight and how much activity you get per day, but the general rule of thumb is that you should be getting 0.36 grams of protein per pound. This equals out to a general number of 56 grams per day for the average man, and 46 grams per day for the average woman.
But before you defrost that chicken breast, it's good to know that protein can come in many other, delicious forms. Enter: quinoa. A cup of cooked quinoa gets you 8 grams of protein — a great step on your way to meeting that daily goal. Plus, there are so many different yummy ways to prepare the whole grain, it's a veritable one-stop-shop for your everyday protein needs.
Sure, we already knew salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. But what you hear next may surprise you — salmon is also chock full of vitamin D. In fact, a piece of sockeye salmon contains 14.2 micrograms of vitamin D — a whopping 70 percent of the daily value. So after a day of soaking up the sun, grill up a piece of juicy salmon to round out your vitamin D needs.
Next time you're looking through your pantry for a midday snack, reach for a bag of savory sunflower seeds. While they may be hearty and delicious, they're also going to give you a yummy dose of good fats — something we normally associate with things like avocados and olive oil. One ounce of the salted seeds (sans shell) gets you 13 grams of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. Plus, they're cheap, easy to take on the go, and are a sustainable crop.
For many of us, the mention of calcium automatically triggers visions of chugging glasses of milk as a child. However, there are many other sources of calcium beyond straight-up dairy. For example chia seeds — the base of so many delicious yogurt bowls, smoothies, acai bowls, and baked goods — contain 179 milligrams of calcium per ounce, aka 13 percent of your daily needs. So it makes sense that "chia" is the ancient Mayan word for "strength."
Fiber helps support a healthy gut and a healthy weight. Fiber is often something we're not so excited about eating — think: beans, bland oatmeal, and specialty yogurts — but it doesn't have to be! Instead of just being resigned to getting your 28 grams of fiber per day, make it something you look forward to by drinking V8® High Fiber 100% Vegetable Juice. Beyond getting you 6 grams of fiber per 8 ounce glass (i.e. 21 percent of the recommended daily value), it's simply a joy to drink.
Credits: Illustrator: Jess Ebsworth; Visual Designer: Mia Coleman