Everyone starts the day with a routine that often includes taking a quick shower, starting a pot of coffee, and popping some dietary supplements. While a single multi-vitamin used to seem sufficient to get vital nutrients, that is no longer the case. Studies about nutrition come out all the time, often encouraging people to boost their intake of a particular vitamin or mineral. What started as a regimen of one pill has now turned into an entire pile of supplements that demand an entire glass of water to choke down.
All of those bottles at the drug store can deplete your bank account, and they might not actually be any more beneficial than good-for-you foods. Time revealed many supplements don’t get adequately inspected before winding up on store shelves. This means you might not be getting the nutrients the packages claim. Even if you are getting a pure source of this or that vitamin, that’s still no reason to load up. Mayo Clinic explained supplements can’t entirely replace food because they don’t offer the same nutritional variety, fiber, or phytonutrients. They’re designed to fill in gaps, not serve as alternatives to healthy eats. If your supplement situation is getting out of control, it might be time to reevaluate your diet. We’ve highlighted seven of the most nutritious foods, which are better for you than anything you’ll find in a bottle. Work these ingredients into your diet for a delicious way to boost your health.
7 Foods That Are Healthier Than Dietary Supplements
1. Lean beef
Steak is usually considered an indulgent meal for special occasions. As long as you’re going for lean cuts, beef is a spectacular protein that you can afford to eat more often. Men’s Fitness likes the red meat as a protein-packed food to help build muscle. But bulking up isn’t the only reason to turn to beef, because it’s also high in B vitamins and creatine. Everyday Health reported men should focus on getting enough Vitamin B12 in their diets to support a healthy nervous system, which impacts memory. Creatine might sound familiar if you’re a regular in the weight room. Many bodybuilders swear by it as a way to get results faster. According to Men’s Health, it increases the body’s ability to rapidly produce energy. That enables gym buffs to train harder more frequently. Getting creatine from beef is certainly more delicious than resorting to powders.
Not all beef is the same, though. Make sure to do a little bit of research before you start stocking up, because many of the cuts you recognize are also some of the fattiest. Stick to cuts like top sirloin and bottom round for day-to-day cooking. You won’t be missing out on any flavor when you cook this spice-rubbed steak with pepper relish from Epicurious. Even healthy diets have a little wiggle room, though, so a rib eye on occasion is perfectly fine.
2. Collard greens
Most people know from a young age that getting enough calcium means downing plenty of milk. Once you get past a certain age, a full glass of dairy kind of loses its appeal. Aside from a cup poured over some cereal on occasion, most guys probably aren’t getting much milk in their diets. Surprisingly, collard greens are a great source of the bone-building mineral. According to Medical News Today, one cup of the cooked greenery will meet 26% of your daily calcium needs. Additionally, collards provide a massive amount of vitamin K, which helps promote blood health and boosts your ability to absorb calcium.
Though greens like kale and spinach get plenty of attention at the store, collards don’t draw the same crowds. That’s good news for you, because it’s unlikely your grocery store will ever be out. These hearty greens are also cheaper than their more popular cousins, so you can load up for a lot less. Go for a taste of tradition with a classic braised dish from Taste of Southern, or give the greens a more modern feel with a The New York Times’spicy pasta.
3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are getting a lot of love these days, and for good reason. They’re completely delicious in tons of different foods, but it’s the health factor that’s really causing a stir. According to Time, eating the sweet spuds can completely eliminate the need to take a vitamin A supplement as just one contains 561% of your daily needs. This nutrient supports good vision, boosts your immune system, and helps out your heart. The benefits don’t end there, either. Eating Well reported the tubers provide plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
Because sweet potatoes bring more flavor to the table than white varieties, it’s both easy and delicious to incorporate them into tons of recipes. For a hearty vegetarian meal, this sweet potato curry with chickpeas from One Ingredient Chef is a phenomenal choice. They’re also superstars on the grill. We like this scallion-flecked dish from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food.
If you turn to a handful of peanuts as a snack, you’re getting a great dose of healthy fats and protein. To give your afternoon nibble even more power, try switching to almonds. The nuts have those same goods, plus vitamin E. The Daily Mail reported this nutrient is key for protecting cells and boosting fertility, and you’ll get halfway to your daily needs with just 20 almonds.
Working almonds into your diet is remarkably easy, because they’re great eaten alone or tossed into dishes. Make a simple trail mix by combining the nuts with some dried fruit, or use them in place of pine nuts for a variation on pesto. They’re also great tossed into a salad, or pulverized into a crust for this delicious chicken dish from Food Network.
If you’re a fan of strawberries, we’ve found even more reasons for you to load up on the fruit. According to the California Strawberry Commission, the produce is ripe with vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. Men’s Fitness highlighted the importance of folate, because it could boost your heart health and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Slice up some of the berries at breakfast, toss into a salad, or macerate them with a little bit of lemon juice and sugar for a delicious dessert topping.
Many people turn to fish oil supplements to boost the amount of omega-3s in their diets, but you can get those same fatty acids simply from eating more seafood. According to SFGate, going with the fish might be a safer choice anyways, because the supplements can increase your risk for bleeding and weaken your immune system. More importantly, sticking to the whole food will give you a hefty dose of protein that you can’t get from any pill.
Aside from fortified dairy products, certain types of fish are also some of the only sources of vitamin D. Men’s Fitness said vitamin D could help you tone your tummy and reduce your risk of heart disease. Though you can also get some of the nutrient from spending time in the sun, you also increase your risk of developing skin cancer, so seafood is a better bet.
To maximize your intake of all these nutrients, salmon, mackerel, and tuna are among your best options. These fatty fish hold up well to nearly any cooking method, especially grilling. Try Every Day With Rachael Ray’s grilled salmon and asparagus with a tangy butter or take things indoor with a Korean-inspired tuna recipe from Food & Wine.
For some reason, people think vitamin C is a magical nutrient that can keep them from ever falling ill. Men’s Health said that just isn’t true. Most people get plenty of vitamin C in their diets with food, and the article went on to say going overboard can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Get a healthy dose with a serving of mango, and you’ll score some other nutrients as well. Men’s Journal said the tropical fruit is a great source of fiber and lands surprisingly low on the glycemic index, so it won’t spike your blood sugar like other sweets.
If you don’t typically include mango in your cooking, you’re in for a treat. The fruit is delicious on its own, and it makes a phenomenal salsa with a bit of cilantro, lime juice, diced chile, and red onion. You can also make a classic Mexican snack by drizzling slices of mango with lime juice, then sprinkling with a hint of chili powder and salt.