If you ask any experts out there about what’s the best thing you can do to take care of yourself and your health, they would probably say having a balanced diet is key. What you eat affects every part of your body. You can leverage it to help you ward off illness, reduce your risk of disease, feel more energetic, boost your mood, and so much more.
“People assume that my response will be a magic herb or supplement, or a popular diet like low carb or keto to fix what ails them,” Brooke Scheller, MS, CNS, DCN-C, the director of nutrition at Freshly, says when she’s asked that question. “However, my answer is always simple: Eat more vegetables. They are the most nutrient-dense foods we can incorporate into our routine that help support the entire body’s systems—from digestion to skin to bones and joints to brain, heart, and lungs. Even those ailments that seem irrelevant to what we eat, like our mood, acne, inflammation, and so much more.”
So what exactly is a “balanced diet“? I went to the experts to answer that question. “A well-rounded pattern of eating is one that nourishes the body,” explains Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition. “The basis is to have a higher proportion of whole and minimally processed foods such as vegetables (both starchy and non-starchy), fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. And for those who consume animal products, plain or fermented dairy, lean meats, poultry, and fish. Ideally, this pattern of nourishment would have limited added sugars, salts, and synthetic fats. Because there is no one size that fits all, it would also include flavors and spices unique to the individual with sustainability in mind.”
Variety is important, too, adds Yasi Ansari, MS, RD, CSSD, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She also recommends consuming foods that support a healthy gut and making sure you stay hydrated.
To get more specific, I asked the experts what vegetables and fruits, in particular, were best to support common health areas like glowy skin, inflammation, and digestion. They broke it down for me below:
Best Vegetables for Skin Health
AmazonFresh Green Cabbage, One Head ($2)
Feller says that cabbage is a good source of fiber. “Fiber plays an important role in reducing systemic inflammation and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut,” she explains. “When overall inflammation is reduced and the gut is functioning optimally, the skin’s integrity and overall texture/appearance may be improved.”
Ansari says that some research suggests foods high in vitamin A may help reduce skin damage and premature aging. Vegetables packed with vitamin A include spinach, carrots, root vegetables, and sweet potatoes.
“Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, can help with elimination of waste from the system, and provide nutrients like vitamin C and beta carotene,” Scheller says.
Garlic is helpful…