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What To Include In Your Diet

It's estimated that only about 1 percent of Americans get the recommended daily allowance of foods that are vital for good health.

Many people have the impression that healthy food is unappetizing, but that is not true, says medical contributor Dr. Mallika Marshall. For the most part, these foods taste good, too. Even foods that may be considered bland can be prepared in a way that makes them very appealing.

On The Saturday Early Show she talks about such foods as:

Black Beans
Black beans, and really all beans, have a lot going for them besides tasting good. They are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free, rich in fiber and contain a good deal of folic acid. They are also rich in magnesium, iron and zinc. The good thing is you don't have to eat a lot to reap these benefits. One-half cup a day is all you need. If you don't want to sit down to a bowl of beans, you can always add them to salads or salsa.

People need to be eating more leafy, green vegetables. Nutritionists recommend a serving a day. Dark leafy green vegetables, in particular, such as spinach and kale, are an excellent source of the anti-oxidant lutein that can lower your risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the U.S., as well as cataracts. If you don't like to have cooked spinach as a side dish, you can incorporate it into you diet by adding it to your sandwich, instead of lettuce, or having a spinach salad.

Whole Grains
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, which helps with digestion and lowers your risk of diseases such as colon cancer and diabetes. So next time you go to the store, look for bread that's labeled "whole grain." Bread that is just labeled "wheat" may in fact contain grain that has been refined. And next time you prepare a rice dish, use brown rice instead of white rice.

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, which studies have shown fight illnesses such as heart disease and Alzheimer's. And once again, people aren't getting enough of them in their diet. You can eat them fresh or frozen, but canned blueberries may contain extra syrups and sugars that you don't need. You may consider adding them to a salad, cereal, some yogurt, or simply eating a handful as a snack.

Everybody assumes that oranges are the best source of vitamin C. And while it's certainly true that they are a good source, you may be surprised to learn that a medium-sized kiwifruit has more vitamin C than a medium-sized orange. One of the great things about kiwis is that you can bring them almost anywhere you go, so it's easy to eat them on their own. And you can always add kiwis to salads or a smoothie.

Fortified Soy Milk
Soy is rich in fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids and has been shown to lower cholesterol and promote heart health. When buying soy milk though, make sure it's fortified so that you're getting the calcium and vitamin D that you need. You may also consider buying a reduced-calorie brand, if you are looking to lose weight. And the good news is that in certain recipes, such as macaroni and cheese or pancakes, you can replace regular milk with soy milk.

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