If a single food was guaranteed to make you instantly slim or happy, or end your allergy woes, stores would have to fight back the feverish shoppers. We’re not quite there yet, but there are foods and nutrients that science says benefit your well-being.
“Diet has tremendous effects on our short-and long-term health, especially when it comes to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Harvard Medical School. Just remember, he adds, to “eat a variety of healthy foods, rather than focus on one magic bullet.” Next time you’re shopping, add these picks to your nutritionally balanced grocery cart.
Peas, beans and peanuts are stand-up sources of magnesium, a mineral that plays a core role in your body’s energy production. (It’s involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in your system.) “When you exercise, magnesium is redistributed throughout the body to help energy molecules get to where they’re needed,” explains Forrest Nielsen, a research nutritionist in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
A deficiency may cause you to fizzle out more easily. Workout warriors need to be extra vigilant (you lose some magnesium through sweat). Legumes will help you fulfill the RDA of 320 milligrams: One cup of white beans has 134 milligrams; even a cup of frozen peas delivers 35 milligrams.