Just one eight-ounce glass of skim or low-fat milk supplies one third of your daily requirement of calcium, which is vital to strong bones and teeth. A diet rich in calcium can cut your risk of hypertension, colon cancer, and breast cancer, as well as ease PMS. Milk is a valuable source of vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B12, says Doreen Chin Pratt, R.D., director of nutrition services at Women & Infants Hospital, in Providence. Drinking the white stuff also sends a healthy message to your kids: A recent study found that mothers who drink milk regularly have daughters who do the same--and who consume less nutrient-empty soda.
It's low-cal and loaded with vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, folate, and fiber--all of which can help reduce your risk of heart disease and certain kinds of cancers. Enjoy it raw or lightly steamed.
At about 100 calories each, bananas are a good source of fiber and vitamins B6 and C. They're also loaded with potassium--a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and is essential to muscle function. Eat one after a workout (when potassium levels are at their lowest), mix into smoothies, or add to your cereal for an all-day energy boost.
4. Orange juice
A stellar source of vitamin C (just one eight-ounce glass supplies 120 percent of your daily requirement), orange juice is also full of folate--which helps prevent birth defects and colon cancer--and potassium. Opt for the calcium-fortified kind to benefit your bones.
Tossing together a variety of greens (romaine and spinach are rich in vitamin A and folate, while iceberg has fiber), along with tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers, is the smartest way to sneak vegetables into your diet, explains Joan Salge Blake, R.D., a clinical assistant professor of nutrition at Boston University. Studies have shown that getting at least three servings of veggies a day can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. (Just be sure to steer clear of high-calorie dressing)!
6. Peanut Butter
Don't feel guilty swiping part of your kid's sandwich. Peanut butter is chock full of protein, fiber, zinc, and vitamin E. It also contains mostly unsaturated fat, which lowers both total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. "Peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread with a glass of skim milk is a perfect meal," says Therese Franzese, R.D., director of nutrition at Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex, in New York City. But don't go for the reduced-fat version. "The fat is replaced with sugar, so it has the same calories as the regular stuff," Franzese explains.
7. Sweet Potatoes
These spuds--which are available year-round--should be a staple in your diet, not simply a holiday treat. They're an excellent source of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and cancer-fighting antioxidants such as beta-carotene.