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10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World

March 2, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Brooke McKelvey

From lean protein and lentils to low-fat dairy and leafy greens, everyone's got a different idea of what constitutes a perfectly healthy diet. And if you didn't know already, ours is a balanced mix of it all!

Healthy fats, good quality meats, dairy products, proteins, whole food carbohydrates... if your body responds well to it, there's no reason to cut any of it out of your diet completely. 

Instead of the type or amount of food you eat, you should focus on the amount of nutrients you're adding to every meal. Nutrient-dense food may be a better indicator of how healthy your diet is. Although there's no one-size-fits-all, it's an excellent way to ensure you're not consuming empty calories or undereating

What is Nutrient-Dense Food?

two people cooking in the kitchen

Nutrient-dense foods are those that are high in nutrients, and provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and energy. According to the National Cancer Institute, nutrient-dense food contains "vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats." 

So your diet could include anything from whole grains to dairy, brown rice and sweet potatoes to your favorite types of fish—the sky's the limit as long as it's a food high in nutrients. It’s really all about making your calories count. Which makes healthy eating sound a lot more fun, doesn't it? 

According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a selection of nutrient-rich foods in your diet can help promote good health and prevent diseases and health issues. And since research suggests a large percentage of people don't get the nutrients they need for a healthy diet, it's a good time to start focusing on what you can add to yours. 

The next time you're at the grocery store, instead of sticking to stereotypical veggie and whole wheat options (don't get us wrong, they're excellent additions too), pick from a variety of food groups. After all, when it comes to foods that are good for everything from overall wellness to heart health, we're sure there's something you love on the list. And if you're stumped for ideas, take a look at some of our favorites.

10 Nutrient-Dense Meals We Love

Tired of the usual dinner rotation? Want a diet with health benefits, nutritional value, and great taste? Luckily for you, there's a host of foods and food groups to pick from. And if you've got a palate as diverse as ours, you're in for a treat.

There's flavorful, nutrient-dense food across the globe, and we're bringing you our favorites to help you on your journey to a nutrient-rich, palate-pleasing meal. Here are just 10 nutrient-dense meals we can't get enough of:

1. Sushi [Japan, Asia]

a person holding sushi with chopsticks

From maki to nigiri, salmon to sashimi, this dish is a global favorite, and for a good reason. Sushi is a Japanese dish made from cooked rice and fresh seafood, rolled into a cone-shaped hand roll or served as individual pieces on a plate. 

Accompaniments usually include soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. If you're looking for nutrient-dense food that's also delicious and easy to prepare, sushi is a great option. It sounds complicated, but it's surprisingly easy to make this healthy food at home—but make sure you're using the right ingredients.

Sushi includes cooked seafood, rice, and vegetables, all of which have an array of nutrients. For example, the nori (seaweed) used to make maki contain everything from vitamin A and vitamin B12 to micronutrients like iron and calcium. 

The nutrient-rich food is also usually (we can't speak for all the variations) low in fat and calories, making it a good option for people interested in weight loss. And it's also high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. 

Our dietitian and nutrition manager, Carlee Hayes gives us a pro tip here to keep it healthy. She says, “Commercially produced sushi is often high in added sugars and carbohydrates (did you know they add sugar to sushi rice?!), but you can make this meal healthier by opting for sashimi varieties, swapping the white rice for seaweed rolls and starting your meal with some high quality protein—think cucumber or seaweed salad, or some edamame.”

2. Arroz con Gandules [Puerto Rico, North America]

a bowl of Arroz con Gandules

Arroz con Gandules is a traditional Puerto Rican dish made with rice, pigeon peas, and pork. The dish is typically served as a main course, although we love it so much we'd eat it at any meal. 

The rice and pigeon peas are packed with fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Pork can be a good source of the water-soluble B vitamin thiamin, which can affect energy metabolism. 

A pro tip from Hayes here to keep it healthy, is to swap the vegetable oil the dish usually uses for more nutrient-dense oil like olive oil. She explains, “Refined oils are stripped of their nutrients, so this is a way to boost nutrient-density in this meal.”

Made this way, Arroz con Gandules is flavorful and nutritious, making it a popular choice for family dinners. It's also pretty easy to make, especially with this easy recipe.

3. Louvi [Greece, Europe]

a plate of Louvi

Louvi, a black-eyed bean salad from Greece, is a delicious, healthy dish perfect for any occasion. This salad is simple to make and includes just a few ingredients. Black-eyed beans are combined with olive oil, vinegar, and herbs to create a flavorful and satisfying salad. 

Why do we love it? Apart from how good it tastes, it's an easy way to add a lot of macronutrients and micronutrients to your diet. Black-eyed beans are a good source of protein and fiber. The chard is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. There's also fiber and vitamin C-filled lemon zest in some versions. On the whole, this salad is also low in calories. 

So, if you're looking for a healthy and delicious new salad to try, look no further than this black-eyed bean one.

4. Kimchi [Korea, Asia]

a plate of Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish popular in Korea and other parts of Asia. It's a traditional Korean dish made with fermented vegetables, typically spicy and sour, with a strong flavor that we can't get enough of. 

The ingredients and seasonings can vary, but the dish typically includes napa cabbage, daikon radish, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. Kimchi can be eaten alone as a side dish or added to other dishes like stir-fries and soups. It's also a popular ingredient in other Korean dishes. 

Kimchi is high in vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and fiber. So it's no surprise it has many health benefits. It’s gut-healthy, helping your body build good gut bacteria. And it may even help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health

This kimchi recipe is easy to follow and packed with nutrients. Enjoy it by itself, add it to a rice dish, or use it as a garnish.

5. Chana Masala [India, Asia]

Chana Masala is a traditional Indian dish made with chickpeas and spices. There are many variations to this dish, but it's always a flavorful, hearty treat regardless of how you make it. 

It's a popular dish in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. You can eat Chana Masala as a main course or side dish, with naan bread, roti, or rice. And if you're vegan or gluten-free, you're going to love that you can include it in your healthy diet without many (or any, depending on the recipe) modifications.

Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber and contain essential vitamins and minerals. The spices used in the masala are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. All of this makes this dish a healthy food choice for anyone looking for a filling, satisfying meal.

6. Ratatouille [France, Europe]

a plate of Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a French dish that many people are familiar with but may not know the history or ingredients of—and they're pretty interesting. The vegetarian dish consists of all our favorite veggies—eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes—stewed in olive oil. 

Ratatouille comes from the French word "touiller" which means to stir around. This dish has been around for centuries, mentioned by famous French author Alexandre Dumas in his 1873 novel La Dame Aux Camélias. The stewed vegetables are then simmered with garlic, tomatoes, and herbs until they reach the desired consistency. 

Why should you include it on your list of nutrient-dense foods to try this month? Ratatouille has antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins like potassium. Like most dishes, there are many variations, but try this easy, delicious recipe to start with. Bon appétit!

7. Boule [Chad, Africa]

a bowl of Boule

Boule, pronounced boo-lay, is a traditional African dish made up of various ingredients depending on the region it's from. It is a porridge-type dish of mashed cornmeal that you can eat as a main course or side dish. 

Though there are many different countries and tribes with their own variations, the cuisine has some common elements across the board. It includes primarily grains filled with protein and fiber, making it a perfect appetizer or snack. Depending on what you make it with, it can be rich in whole grains, have all the phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin content of maize, or the thiamin and vitamin B6 of sorghum. It's a versatile dish with a versatile list of nutrients.

Whatever the base grain, Boule is also usually flavored with spices like ginger, garlic, and coriander and often served with rice or unleavened bread. And you can serve it with anything from cooked vegetables to your favorite meat. Check out this easy Boule recipe we love.

8. Ceviche [Peru, South America]

a plate of Ceviche

Ceviche is a popular dish throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It usually includes raw fish or seafood, citrus juice, and seasonings. The acid in the lime juice "cooks" the fish, and the chili peppers give it a spicy kick. Ceviche has a tart, acidic flavor, and a firm texture. You can eat it as an appetizer or main course. 

Ceviche's nutritional facts will change slightly depending on what seafood you use. Still, it's typically packed with protein, vitamin D, potassium, and calcium. If you haven't tried ceviche before, you should. Check out this healthy Peruvian fish ceviche next time you need a refreshing afternoon snack.

9. Shakshuka [Tunisia, Maghreb, North Africa, and the Middle-East]

a plate of Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a dish with origins in various places, including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Morocco. It's made with eggs baked in a delicious, spicy sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and spices. Thanks to its high protein, fiber, and antioxidant content, it's a nutrient-dense food. 

Additionally, shakshuka has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit your health. This dish is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins A and C. Packed with protein from the eggs, this dish can be satisfying and satiating, both helpful for people seeking weight loss. Shakshuka is a healthy and flavorful meal that you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

This shakshuka recipe is easy to follow and will make your kitchen smell amazing.

10. Kasha [Eastern-Europe and Asia]

a cup of Kasha

Kasha is a cereal made from buckwheat, which is not wheat at all, but a fruit seed related to the rhubarb plant. Kasha is a century-old favorite from East-Central and Eastern European countries, also famous in the United States as a healthy and delicious alternative to oatmeal or other breakfast cereals.

Buckwheat is high in protein, fiber, and minerals like potassium, making it an excellent choice for a nutritious breakfast. You can prepare Kasha in many ways. Soak it overnight to make a porridge-like consistency, cook it with water or broth for a more traditional cereal texture, or bake it into pancakes or muffins.

It's also an excellent way to add healthy calories, fiber, protein, and minerals to your diet. Hayes adds a pro tip here to make it even healthier. She says, “​​To make this a full meal, try pairing with berries and a source of protein, like nut butter. Make it savory with eggs and fresh herbs—it's just as versatile as it is delicious.” Check out this Kasha recipe to start your day on the right note.

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

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Understanding The Effects of Sugar on the Brain According to Research
Understanding The Effects of Sugar on the Brain According to Research

What really happens to your brain when you consume sugar? Review how interesting the relationship between the brain and sugar is, and why it’s important to control your blood sugar.

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9
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Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis
Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common yet often ignored condition. Learn more about the symptoms to watch out for, how you can seek treatment, and read first-hand accounts from two women who have dealt with endometriosis.

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6
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Understanding Hyperglycemia vs. Hypoglycemia and How to Recognize the Differences
Understanding Hyperglycemia vs. Hypoglycemia and How to Recognize the Differences

Quickly understand the differences between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, how to recognize the signs, and key prevention tips.

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6
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Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]
Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]

Learn everything you need to know about the relationship between triglycerides levels and blood glucose.


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7
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Tips and Tricks for Staying Healthy in the Summer
Tips and Tricks for Staying Healthy in the Summer

If you're gearing up to travel or spend more time outdoors this summer, here are a few tips to help you stay safe and hydrated in the sun.

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7
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Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim
Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim

Purim, a joyous occasion celebrated around March or April every year, is just around the corner! Read on to learn more about the holiday and the delicious foods that accompany it.

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5
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Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from NutriSense Dietitians
Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from NutriSense Dietitians

Still haven't settled on the perfect gift for your Valentine this year? Take a look at our Nutrition Team's favorites for some thoughtful ideas.

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10
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The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For
The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For

Because nerve damage can have many silent symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. Read on to learn more about what causes nerve damage and some warning signs to watch out for.

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7
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The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health
The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health

Ready to learn all about fiber beyond just the basics? In this post, we dive deep into the different kinds of fiber and health benefits of each. From functional fiber to fermentation, we break down all the jargon into a layman's language.

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8
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The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar

Did you know that cardio can help you lose weight as well as optimize your health and blood glucose? Here's everything you need to know about cardio and its relationship with blood sugar.

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7
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The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss
The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss

Find out what unhealthy weight loss is and learn more about its side effects and what you can do to prevent them.

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6
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The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure
The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure

Learn about the warning signs of low blood sugar and the relationship it has on blood pressure.

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10
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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

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7
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The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?

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8
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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.

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5
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The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels
The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels

The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.

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8
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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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6
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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8
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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9
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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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9
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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9
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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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8
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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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7
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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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12
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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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6
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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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9
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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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10
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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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6
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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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9
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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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10
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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8
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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9
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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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8
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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.