Ever wondered which foods are best for your health, and which ingredients will lift your energy and mood? Our nutritionist picks the top foods with benefits to your health – you'll even find recipes in which to enjoy them. Read on to find what to add to next week’s shopping list.


Discover our full range of health guides, including the top 10 healthiest nuts, top 12 healthiest fermented foods and top 20 healthy, mood-boosting recipes. Plus, check out our energy-boosting breakfast recipes, including breakfast muffins and overnight oats.

Fish tagine with saffron & almonds in a casserole dish

1. Almonds

Almonds appear to be a beauty food with studies suggesting daily inclusion may reduce the appearance of wrinkles and skin pigmentation. Interestingly, studies suggest a generous handful, around 55g a day, offers limited risk of weight gain – making them a healthy snacking choice.

Find out more about the health benefits of almonds.

Recipes to try:

Fish tagine with saffron & almonds
Pomegranate chicken with almond couscous
Vanilla-almond chia breakfast bowl

2. Apples

Packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre, apples are one of our favourite budget-friendly fruits. They contain a form of fibre called pectin which may have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

Get to know the health benefits of apples.

Recipes to try:

Apple & penne slaw with walnuts

Seared venison with sprout and apple slaw

Raspberry & apple smoothie

3. Avocado

Nutrient dense and with just half a fruit counting as one of your five-a-day, it appears eating avocado may lead to improvements in facial skin elasticity and firmness.

Understand the health benefits of avocado.

Recipes to try:

California quinoa & avocado salad
Tomato penne with avocado
Avocado & smoked salmon spelt spaghetti

4. Beetroot

Naturally rich in nitrates, beetroot is good for the heart, may lower blood pressure and, because it contains nitrates that improve blood flow, help power you through that exhausting gym session.

Read up on what makes beetroot so good for you.

Recipes to try:

Honey-roast beetroot

Beetroot falafel

Creamy beetroot curry

5. Blackberries

Mix up your berry of choice to enjoy the benefits of blackberries. They're lower in calories than blueberries and contain more vitamin C, folate and fibre.

Find out more about the health benefits of blackberries.

Recipes to try:

Blackberry & apple oat bake
Blackberry & lemon fool
Blackberry muffins

Blackberry and apple oat bake with ice cream

6. Blueberries

Well-known for their immune-supportive and antioxidant properties, these little berries are packed with protective compounds called anthocyanins.

Read up on the health benefits of blueberries.

Recipes to try:

American blueberry pancakes

Apple & blueberry bircher

Fruitburst muffins

Chicken & avocado salad with blueberry balsamic dressing

7. Brazil nuts

High in selenium, Brazil nuts are actually the richest known food source of this immune-supportive nutrient. Just 2-3 nuts a day is all you need.

Discover the health benefits of Brazil nuts.

Recipes to try:

Brazil nut refried beans

Brazil nut burritos

Sweet & spicy nuts

8. Carrots

A good source of carotenes, the body converts these to vitamin A for plump, healthy skin and for enhancing the immune system.

Find out more about the health benefits of carrots.

Recipes to try:

Skinny carrot fries

Carrot, apple & celeriac mash

Carrot & hummus roll-ups

9. Citrus

Oranges, lemons and grapefruits contain high amounts of vitamin C. They're also loaded with compounds called bioflavonoids, which help vitamin C to be more easily absorbed.

Read up on the health benefits of oranges and grapefruit.

Recipes to try:

Grapefruit, orange & apricot salad

Creamy garlic, lemon & spinach salmon

Honeyed orange & grapefruit

Creamy garlic and lemon spinach salmon in a casserole dish

10. Cranberries

Many people turn to cranberries to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI), especially cystitis in women. That's because compounds in cranberries may help prevent the bacteria responsible for UTIs adhering to the bladder wall; however, this is not effective for all people and studies suggest there may be other mechanisms at play. These include the potential of cranberries to help maintain a beneficial balance of the microbes (bacteria, virus and fungae) that live in the bladder – our urobiome.

Find out more about the health benefits of cranberries.

Recipes to try:

Braised beef with cranberries & spices

Pumpkin, cranberry & red onion tagine

Cranberry & lentil bake

11. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, has some impressive health benefits, including its dense nutrient content. This includes minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc.

Get to know the health benefits of dark chocolate.

Recipes to try:

Chocolate chia pudding
Orange & dark chocolate yogurt bowls
Healthy chocolate milk

12. Eggs

Eggs are known to be nutritional powerhouses – a medium-sized egg supplies as much as 6-7g of protein. Eggs are also a good source of choline, a nutrient needed for brain function and a sharp memory.

Find out more about the health benefits of eggs.

Recipes to try:

Breakfast egg wraps

Indian chickpeas with poached eggs

Healthy shakshuka

13. Fish

A healthy choice, fish and especially the oily varieties including salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel, are a useful source of protein and supply essential omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are heart-friendly and support brain development and function.

Find out more about the health benefits of oily fish.

Recipes to try:

Scandi trout with fennel & potato salad

Baked salmon

Spanish sardines on toast

14. Garlic

Rich in allicin, a sulphur-containing compound which gives garlic its pungent smell, distinctive taste and many of its health benefits. These including being heart-friendly and anti-viral.

Read more about what makes garlic so good for you.

Recipes to try:

Crispy garlic & rosemary slices

Spaghetti with spinach & garlic

Green beans with shallots, garlic & toasted almonds

Green beans with shallots garlic and toasted almonds

15. Ginger

Enjoyed as a tea or added to meals, this root spice may help alleviate nausea, aid digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Find out more about the health benefits of ginger.

Recipes to try:

Lime & ginger salmon

Spiced parsnip & cauliflower soup

Sea bass en papillote with Thai flavours

16. Lettuce & salad greens

Tangy varieties, such as chicory and endive, stimulate the liver, making them great detoxifiers. Don’t discard the outer leaves, they tend to be richer in nutrients including folate.

Find out what makes spinach so good for you.

Recipes to try:

Garden salad

Vitality chicken salad with avocado dressing

Cucumber, pea & lettuce soup

17. Oats

Oats make an excellent start to the day because they supply a source of complex carbohydrates, which means they provide slow-releasing energy to fuel you through your morning. They are also rich in a type of fibre that helps to manage cholesterol levels and protective plant compounds that make them good for the heart.

Recipes to try:

Blueberry baked oats

Overnight oats

Banana oat pancakes

18. Olives

Rich in mono-unsaturates – the heart-friendly type of fat – olives are a useful source of fibre. They also contain polyphenols which have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

Read up on the benefits of olives and olive oil.

Recipes to try:

Chicken tagine with lemons, olives & pomegranate

Cauliflower steaks with roasted red pepper & olive salsa

Veggie olive wraps with mustard vinaigrette

19. Pistachio nuts

Compared to most nuts, pistachios are low in fat and calories. They’re especially rich in phytosterols, which support cardiovascular health.

Discover more health benefits of pistachios.

Recipes to try:

Chicken & pistachio salad

Herb salad with pomegranate & pistachios

Minty carrot, pistachio & feta salad

Chicken & pistachio salad

20. Pomegranates

Pomegranate is rich in protective compounds that protect your cells from day-to-day onslaughts including the likes of UV damage that leads to the loss of skin elasticity and causes hyperpigmentation.

Recipes to try:

Chicken tagine with lemons, olives & pomegranate
Beetroot & halloumi salad with pomegranate & dill
Pomegranate salmon

21. Quinoa

If you follow a vegan or plant-based diet, quinoa can make a valuable dietary inclusion because it contains all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that we need for growth and repair.

Find out more about the health benefits of quinoa.

Recipes to try:

Spicy Cajun chicken quinoa

Vegetable tagine apricot quinoa

California quinoa & avocado salad

22. Soy

Soy contains natural compounds called isoflavones, which have powerful antioxidant properties – but they have also attracted a great deal of attention because they mimic a weak form of the hormone oestrogen. For some women, including soy in the diet helps with peri-menopausal symptoms including mood and hot flushes.

Discover the health benefits of tempeh and tofu.

Recipes to try:

Tempeh traybake

Tofu scramble

Tofu, butternut & mango curry

23. Sweet potato

Counting as one of your five-a-day, a medium sweet potato is rich in beta carotene and fibre. The sweet taste and soft texture make them the perfect comfort food.

Learn more about what makes sweet potato so good for you.

Recipes to try:

Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal

Sweet potato cakes with poached eggs

Feta & kale-loaded sweet potato

Feta & kale loaded sweet potato

24. Watercress

This peppery leaf is a great source of iron and calcium as well as vitamins C and E. However, its main claim to health fame is its role in potentially reducing the risk of cancer.

Recipes to try:

Watercress & celeriac soup with goat’s cheese croutons

Sea trout & buckwheat salad with watercress & asparagus

Lamb tagliata with watercress & tomatoes

25. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is made from cow's milk that has been strained to remove the whey, resulting in a thicker, creamier consistency. It’s a good source of protein as well as minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. When you choose yogurt made with ‘live cultures’ you’ll also benefit from properties that improve gut health.

Get to know the health benefits of Greek yogurt.

Recipes to try:

Beetroot rosti with green yogurt & smoked salmon

Roast aubergines with yogurt & harissa

Cauliflower cakes with green yogurt sauce

Like this? Now try:

Top 10 energy-boosting lunches
5 top tips to boost your energy
Healthy breakfast recipes
Mood-boosting breakfast recipes
Easy ways to eat more vegetables
How food affects your mood: Healthy Diet Plan

Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Follow Kerry on Instagram at @kerry_torrens_nutrition_


All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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