Top 20 Foods


Healthy choices for calories and protein

Developed by Rachel J. Wong, RD, CSO, LD, George Washington University Hospital


1)    Peanut Butter
  • High in protein and calories, also a good source of vitamin E, Magnesium, and folate
  • Try all natural peanut butter which have more heart healthy unsaturated fats than commercial brands
  2)      Avocado                   
  • Contains fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, and folate
  • A serving (1/5th of a medium avocado) contains just .5 gm of saturated fat out of 4.5gm total fat
 3)   Greek Yogurt
  • Packed with protein, calcium, and probiotics
 4)    Cottage Cheese
  • A ½ cup serving of 1% milk fat cottage cheese contains 80 calories and 14gm protein
  • One serving provides up to 8% of your total recommended calcium intake for the day
 5)      Oatmeal
  • A great breakfast choice, oatmeal is an excellent source of cholesterol lowering soluble fiber
 6)      Cheese
  • A unique, versatile, high protein food that contains calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and zinc
  • The best lower fat natural cheeses include fresh goat cheese, hard parmesan, and feta
 7)      Milk
  • Aside from being a major source of calcium (300mg/glass), each 8oz serving contains 8gm protein
 8)     Salmon
  • A 4oz serving (about the size of a deck of cards) contains 14gm fat, only 4gm are saturated
  • One serving provides 2.4gm of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids
 9)     Olives
  • High in monounsaturated heart healthy fats, olives are also a good source of fiber, iron, vitamin E, and copper
 10)   Nuts & Seeds
  • A good source of monounsaturated heart healthy fats, one serving is equivalent to a small handful
  • Varieties include almonds, cashews, ground flaxseed, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachio nuts
 11)     Quinoa
  • A pseudocereal related to beets and spinach
  • A good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, and iron
  • Rinse quinoa before preparing to remove saponins which may give a bitter taste
 12)      Granola
  • A great fiber rich, energy dense snack
  • Be careful when choosing store bought granola as some brands may contain up to 600 calories per serving.  Make your own granola instead.
 13)  Sweet Potato &   Yams                                          
  • High in beta-carotenes, a precursor to vitamin A
  • Health benefits are optimal when yams are steamed vs boiled
 14)   Beans & Lentils
  • Lentils are high in protein, fiber, folate, and Vitamin B1
  • Soak dry beans and lentils overnight before cooking
 15)    Brown Rice
  • A good source of manganese, selenium, and magnesium
  • Lowers cholesterol and slows plaque build up in the arteries
 16)   Dried Fruit
  • Dried figs, dates, raisins, papaya, mango, etc.
  • A calorie dense food packed with many nutrients including dietary fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin C, and B-complex
 17)      Eggs
  • Excellent source of protein (6-7gm protein/egg)
  • Great source of choline, which is particularly important in brain function and health
 18)   High Fiber Cereal
  • For example, raisin bran, total, mini wheats, oatmeal
  • Nutrient dense cereals contain higher amounts of heart healthy fiber
 19)      Poultry
  • High protein
  • Choose chicken breast vs thigh or leg
  • Remove skin before consuming
 20)   Soy Products
  • Consume in the whole form: eg, soybeans.  Also consider tempeh, fermented tofu, and soy miso
  • Soy is nutrient rich, including heart-healthy omega 3’s