13 Foods to Add to Your Diet in 2013

Like clothing, music, and celebrities, certain foods come and go in terms of popularity. Here are 13 that may help you improve your health, assist your weight-loss efforts, or just give you the chance to give your taste buds something new!
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cross section of purple potato
cross section of purple potato

2013 has arrived and with it, my yearly list of foods you may want to consider adding (or have more of) this year. All of them have been around for ages but -- like clothing, music, and celebrities -- certain foods come and go in terms of popularity. Here are 13 that may help you improve your health, assist your weight-loss efforts, or just give you the chance to give your taste buds something new!

Black Rice
If white rice is a staple in your diet, you're missing out on a whole new rice world. Black rice has been around for thousands of years, but only now getting the attention it deserves. Evidence suggests that black rice may have more cancer-fighting antioxidants than blueberries or blackberries. It's also loaded with fiber and B-vitamins.

Orange is in, and the orange in these tasty treats come from beta-carotene, a powerhouse carotenoid that converts to vitamin A in the body. A recent study found that low levels of beta-carotene are associated with dementia.

Soy has remained one of the most controversial foods of the past few years but, the truth is, it really shouldn't be! That's because the overwhelming amount of evidence for soy shows beneficial, as opposed to adverse, health effects. Soy may play a role in lowering blood pressure, early intake of soy in life appears to play a protective role against breast cancer, and some studies now indicate that consistent soy intake may actually help to decrease the recurrence of breast cancer among certain patient populations. They key, however,in attaining these benefits is to focus on whole soy foods such as miso, tempeh, tofu and soybeans. That means your soy chips and that soy energy bar may not cut it!

Purple Potatoes
If you think all potatoes are the downfall to your weight-loss plans, think again! A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that eating a moderate serving of purples potatoes twice a day helped to lower blood pressure in obese individuals without causing weight gain. Additionally, the more color a fruit or vegetable has, the better it is for you. That's because vibrant hues in whole foods are created by powerful phytochomeicals that help to reduce inflammation and overall disease risk.

Tortilla Chips
Do you often find yourself looking for something crunchy and savory midway through the afternoon, but don't want to have yet another fat-free snack that fails to fill you up? Tortilla chips may be just what you're looking for! They are 100 percent whole grain and a good source of fiber, but perhaps the most impressive fact about this simple snack is that they are, in a word, simple! That means many tortilla chip options at the stores have only two or three ingredients, a far cry from some of the competitive chip offerings on the shelf that can contain more than 10 ingredients. If you are a dip-lover, pair it with salsa or hummus for extra nutrients without the aging fat that other dips (think French onion, cheese, etc.) tend to supply.

Looking for a condiment that will give kick to your food while kicking cancer risk as well? Then turn up the heat in 2013 by adding some horseradish to a sandwich or salad dressing. The horseradish plant is from the same family as cancer-fighting superstars broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. Two studies in 2012 found that horseradish contained high amounts of glucosinolate, a natural compound that has been found to be a powerful dietary ally in cancer prevention.

Move over blueberries, blackberries may have you beat! Blackberries have been found in one study to be higher in antioxidants than their blue counterparts. While both berries are fabulous in terms of fighting off disease, blackberries are often the understudy to blueberries. This year, why not make them center stage? Their anti-inflammatory effects not only may help to prevent cancer, but may do wonders for your skin, as well!

Black Beans
So many fabulous nutrients stored in such a small little bean. This plant-based source of protein is high in fiber and iron -- giving new meaning to the term "nutrient density," and making it a dream food staple for individuals hoping to shed a few pounds!

Bran -- it's not just for the constipated! Brans of any kind (corn, rice, wheat and oat) are loaded with fiber (about 12 grams per serving) and if you thought fiber was only good for cleaning out the digestive pipes, you're missing out on a lot more benefits! Studies have shown that fiber may help to reduce the progression of prostate cancer in mice, promote gastrointestinal health, and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by helping in the fight toward lower cholesterol. Mix bran into muffins, yogurt, or even soups to get a fiber boost!

With new and exciting super fruits being introduced to the market, sometimes it's easy to forget that some simple fruit staples are still some of the best. Pears are high in fiber and vitamin C and may be a perfect snack if your New Year's resolution is to reduce your risk of cancer. A study in 2009 found that pears may help reduce the incidence of gastric cancer by decreasing bile acids in the intestinal tract.

Onions are not only a great way to add taste to your meals, but may also help to reduce your risk of stroke as well. A 2012 animal study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that a flavanoid known as rutin (found in fruits, vegetables and teas) helped to reduce the formation of blood clots.

Love Indian food but don't love the fact that you typically eat three pieces of white flour naan at your favorite restaurants? Next time choose a better and healthier Indian bread -- roti. Found at all Indian restaurants, roti provides something that's hard to find when you're dining out: a 100 percent whole-grain bread option. Enjoy roti over the white rice to soak up those delicious Indian sauces. You'll get lots of health benefits and may avoid the after-meal bloat, as well!

Black Pepper
A few sprinkles of black pepper not only adds great flavor to your foods -- it may also help to block fat! A 2012 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a compound in pepper, known as piperine, helped to block the formation of fat cells in the body. If you're going to spice up your food, why not choose something that will help you keep weight down, as well!

Brigid Titgemeier contributed to this article

For more by Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D., click here.

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