In order to gain the most benefit from this lifestyle, it’s important to know your nutrients and where to find them. Here is a small sampling of some of the important nutrients we need:
Vitamin A – So many great choices for vitamin A! Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and romaine, and red peppers (notice that most of these A sources are red/orange in color).
Vitamin C – Great sources include yellow bell peppers, kiwi, leafy greens like kale, strawberries, citrus fruits like oranges as well as broccoli.
Calcium – Leafy greens, broccoli, green beans and almonds.
Vitamin D – This vitamin can be produced by our body when we are exposed to the sun. But, in cold weather climates where we cover up or with the use of sunscreen (which is also important in preventing skin cancer) we may not get enough sunshine to produce enough D. In addition to supplements we can still get some vitamin D from foods like portabello mushrooms and dairy alternatives like almond milk.
Vitamin E – You can find this vitamin in foods like almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, cooked spinach, broccoli and pumpkin.
Fiber – Fiber is essential for healthy bowel movements and is pretty darn easy to get enough of on a pant-rich diet. Combined with lots of water (stay well hydrated) the fiber in plants will keep you healthy and satisfied after meals. Good fiber sources include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, berries, leafy greens (spinach and romaine lettuce), celery, squash as well as mushrooms and oranges.
Iron – You can find iron in pumpkin seeds, cashews and almonds, spinach and swiss chard. Better yet, when you eat your iron rich foods together with vitamin C rich foods, the C helps enhance the absorption of the iron. I don’t recommend iron supplements without first consulting with your physician, as excessively high levels of iron can be dangerous.
Vitamin K – You can find a lot of K in your greens! Kale, spinach, cucumbers, asparagus, green lettuce and brussels sprouts.
Omega 3 fatty-acids – Linked to numerous health benefits, omega 3’s can be found in ground flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and veggies such as bell peppers, broccoli, spinach and cauliflower.
Potassium – There are so many delicious sources of potassium like baked potatoes (with the skin), bananas, spinach, dried apricots, avocados and white mushrooms.
Zinc – Zinc can be found in spinach (notice how spinach keeps showing up!), toasted wheat germ, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cocoa, chocolate, mushrooms and beans.
While this is not a complete list of all nutrients. It covers some of the more prominent ones that I think are important to be aware of. If you simply rotate your foods for variety, you will not only prevent taste-bud boredom, you will likely cover all of your nutrition needs and then some!