In these times, there seem to be as many "healthy diets" as there are experts. While our specific dietary needs may vary according to our individual body types, metabolisms, and genetics, there are some basic guidelines that can be useful in determining which foods are nutritious and which are not.
1. Emphasize fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants--nutrients that help neutralize toxins in the body. Generally, brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain the highest levels of antioxidants: for example, yellow, orange, and dark green vegetables; citrus fruits; and cruciferous vegetables (those in the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage). While taking antioxidants in supplement form can be beneficial, those found in foods are much more powerful.
Fruits and vegetables are also high in other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, which is supportive to the immune system, is abundant in strawberries, oranges, and bell peppers. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are a powerhouse of beta-carotene, which is important for vision. Green leafy vegetables support the health of our bones and teeth, among other things, with high levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. Some helpful guidelines to follow: Eat two to four pieces of fresh fruit daily, and fill half your plate with vegetables at any given meal.
2. Eat the amount and combination of whole foods that make you feel best. There are many different approaches to healthy eating. If you feel good eating a high-protein diet with lots of nonstarchy vegetables and few carbohydrates, it may be the best diet for you. However, if you feel best eating a diet high in grains, vegetables, and beans, that may be the best diet for you.
Animals that are grass-fed and/or raised on organic foods (and all the products those animals produce) seem to have superior nutritional profiles. In addition, studies have shown that children who grow up eating organic foods have lower levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies than those raised eating conventional foods.