What is a health food?
With a constant stream of conflicting information, sometimes it can be hard to know
what foods really do form a healthy diet. This book examines foods that have a proven
track record in enhancing health or offering protection from diseases. For each of the
foods, the positive health benefits have been well-established and confirmed in trials
across the world over a period of years.
Our definition of a health food is one that has a higher-than-average content of the
important, and sometimes hard to get, vitamins and minerals, or an equally good range
of the plant chemicals and other recently discovered nutrient-like compounds that
studies have shown to have major health impacts. These will often be foods that rate
high on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale—a scale measuring
the antioxidant ability of plant foods to neutralize free radicals and help prevent
diseases. Health foods should also be low in or void of salt, sugar, saturated, and trans
fats, which are frequently linked with a higher risk of ill health and disease.
The importance of a varied diet :
A list of only one hundred foods cannot be definitive and there are many more foods
that are healthy and nutritious in their own right, but didn’t quite make this list. If your
own favorite vegetable, fruit, grain, or other food isn’t listed, that doesn’t mean it won’t
add positive nutrition to your overall diet.
A healthy diet for most people is one that includes 5–7 portions of vegetables and
fruits a day (a good balance is 3–4 vegetables and 2–3 fruits, 2–3 portions of whole
grains such as whole grain barley, brown rice, and oats, and 2–3 portions of lean
protein such as skinless chicken, lowfat plain yogurt, lentils, or crab. Your diet should
also include regular amounts of oily fish, nuts and seeds, plant oils, herbs, and spices.
Remember, no one food can make you healthy on its own—aim instead for a varied and
balanced diet. This means trying to include many of the foods in this book into your
diet on a regular basis, and varying your choices daily. The diverse set of recipes
included in this book offers ways to combine several foods featured and provide a wide
range of meals with ideas you can enjoy throughout the day—from breakfast to
The information in 100 Best Health Foods will help you build your own perfect diet
and, just as importantly, you will enjoy learning more about the wonderful world of
healthy, natural foods.