We need food and nourishment to survive on a daily basis, so why not eat well and provide your one and only body with the best health foods and brain foods that are easily accessible? One of the biggest misconceptions I always hear from others is this: “Eating healthy costs too much.” Let’s start with a simple substitution. Purchasing a sack of bananas (or whatever fruit you may favor costs much less than the one pack of unhealthy candy you may consume). In some instances, sure, eating healthy foods (fresh, local, organic ingredients) may cost a bit more than what your closest grocery store may provide, but I’d rather pay the cost now than pay even more for illnesses that could have been avoided altogether.

Optimal health is very important. Eating well isn’t a matter of dining at the finest five-star restaurants every chance you may get, but it’s about eating foods that provide energy and assists with the imperative functions your body must perform daily. If you eat nothing but junk food, you can’t expect anything more but to have a junk body. Eat to live (give your body what it needs), don’t live to eat (you shouldn’t have the “itis” after you’ve completed a meal; that means you ate way too much).

Our editors have provided their favorite health foods with an explanation of why they like it so much and its benefits. We hope we can inspire you to pass up the McDonald’s for a trip to your local market to purchase fresh ingredients for a memorable home-cooked meal. Hey, you may even have healthy leftovers.

Robert I. Brown

Favorite Health Food: Almonds

Why: “A serving of almonds makes the perfect snack. This crunchy treat is also perfect for breaks from class (it’s literally brain food). Most importantly, it’s in season year round.”

Health Benefits: A serving a day reduces heart disease; provides vitamin E.

Corey Knight

Favorite Health Food: Kale

Why: “In the morning there is nothing like a fresh fruit smoothie to accompany my breakfast. As of late I was given a tip to add kale to my shake to make sure I get in my greens for the day along with many other vitamins. The best thing about it is, when it’s in a smoothie you cant taste it.”

Health Benefits: Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Calcium, Sulforaphane a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties.

Ivy Knight

Favorite Health Food: Fresh Salsa

Why: “I love to snack but most snacks are full of fat and sodium. Fresh salsa is made with vegetables that are rich in vitamins and fiber. And if you substitute fried tortilla chips with whole-grain tortillas and plantain chips its makes for a crispy, fresh, and delicious snack.”

Health  Benefits: Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, and Fiber

Christopher Dam

Favorite Health Food: Fresh Arugula & local blackberry salad (dusted with roasted pine nuts and drunken goat cheese)

Why: I could easily eat arugula every day of my life (and baguettes). I grew to love the green while grocery shopping in NYC. It’s an interesting green because each region it’s grown gives it a unique flavor (some with a heavier pepper sest than the other).  The local blackeberries come from a farmer 30 miles outside of Cincinnati. Add a handfull or two of roasted pine nuts and garnish with drunken goat cheese.

Health Benefits: Arugula contains about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron as the same amount of iceberg lettuce