5 Foods To Stop Avoiding

You pass them in the grocery store every week, but it’s time to give these healthful, delicious foods a try

Not everyone is adventurous when it comes to food, but some foods are worth a try—not only for their flavors but also for their health benefits. “People are afraid of some foods because they don’t know what to do with them,” says Joan Salge Blake, R.D., LDN, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman. Removing the fear of the unknown can open a whole new world of menu choices. Here are five foods you should give a chance.

Don’t let the rough exterior fool you. When washed, sliced and roasted, beets have a natural sweetness and a heartiness that will satisfy, Blake says. Beets are high in folate and fiber as well as potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Eaten solo or added to salads, beets bring a lot of flavor—and color—to your plate.

Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which may help fight certain cancers. When grated or chopped, cabbage adds excellent texture and crunch to salads, which keeps things interesting. As for a potentially embarrassing side effect—gas—Blake recommends starting slow and drinking lots of water. “The body will adjust,” she says.

With its curly, thick, dark green leaves, kale can appear intimidating. But with gentle steaming or stir-frying, it becomes tender, providing a hearty, delicious, slighty nutty flavor. It also can be added to soups and stews. It’s an excellent source of calcium and vitamin A, and good for your waistline. “The best diet secret is more vegetables,” Blake says.

These tiny fish come whole in a can, and that can be reason enough for some to say “no, thanks.” But as an inexpensive source of omega-3s, sardines are a great way to be heart-healthy without breaking the bank. Sardines also are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, B vitamins and a host of other nutrients. Blake suggests chopping them and adding them to tomato sauce with pasta to get used to the flavor.

With 2 grams of fiber in one little fig, you can improve your health without a lot of volume. Also packed with iron and potassium, figs are a sweet treat by themselves, or added to recipes. “Figs are perfect with pork or chicken,” Blake says, who likes to stuff figs and other dried fruits into pork tenderloin. They also add sweetness to cooked vegetables. “Mother Nature will never steer you wrong when it comes to fruits and vegetables,” Blake says.

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