Finding the perfect nutritional intake throughout the day can seem like a secret code – too much of a good thing can be unhealthy, while cooked and processed food has less nutritional value than if you were to eat the raw, most natural version of it. There’s a lot to keep in mind if you’re aiming to live a healthier lifestyle. With all these rules, it can seem like veganism is a secret society.

We can all have the key to a healthy, vegan diet with the right tools at our disposal. Since veganism isn’t part of the typical, mainstream diet (though it is certainly growing in popularity!), it’s good to have a few go-to ingredients on hand for sticking to healthy meal planning. Here are some secret ingredients that can help you crack the healthy vegan code:

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1. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is an energizing, nutritious grain that’s gluten-free. Instead of eating bread or other items with grains, try using buckwheat instead to instantly make for a healthy meal. Buckwheat is a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, and manganese. For a healthy snack that kids will especially love, try these Raw Sprouted Buckwheat Bars or for breakfast, whip up these Buckwheat-Brown-Rice Waffles, Gluten-Free.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is the main spice in curry and has a rich orange color. The health benefits of sprinkling some of this spice on food are vast; turmeric is used for arthritis, headaches, heartburn, fibromyalgia, inflammatory skin conditions, and several other ailments. Though you can sprinkle it on a variety of dishes, you can also easily get the benefits by making turmeric tea, which can help improve your sleep if sipped before bed. Try these Roasted Red Potatoes with Turmeric and Thyme.

3. Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is the cousin of spinach and usually lasts about two weeks in the refrigerator before spoiling. This vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C, E, and A, as well as the minerals manganese and zinc. It also contains phyonutrient antioxidants. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, “the range of phytonutrients in chard is even more extensive than researchers initially suspected, and at this point in time, about three dozen antioxidant phytonutrients have been identified in chard, including betalains (both betacyanins and betaxanthins) and epoxyxanthophylls.” Check out these 5 Delish Ways to Eat Swiss Chard.

4. Walnuts

These days, almonds seem to be the trend (perhaps thanks in part to rising almond milk sales), but don’t stop at this nut. Walnuts contain the highest antioxidant content of all the tree nuts and make a delightful, buttery crunch to both savory and sweet dishes. One ounce of walnuts is about seven whole nuts or 14 halves, and that’s all you need for a nutritious serving of these tree nuts. Like almonds, walnuts are mostly cultivated in Calif. and they are also a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats. A 1/4 cup serving of raw walnuts (25 g) contains the following daily recommended value: 95 percent of omega-3 fatty acids, 43 percent of manganese, 20 percent of copper, 13 percent of tryptophan, and the list goes on.

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5. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits contain vitamins C, and eating vitamin C at the same time as nonheme iron helps the body significantly increase its iron absorption. “When they’re digested together, vitamin C combines with nonheme iron to form a compound that’s more easily absorbed,” says Livestrong. “If the iron in your meal comes from plant-based foods, you should include at least 25 milligrams of vitamin C in the same meal, notes ‘Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements.'” Try adding some C to your meal as a way to instantly help your body absorb more nonheme iron.

If you haven’t already, try these great ingredients to help you crack the code to the healthiest vegan diet possible!

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 Image source: flydime / Wikimedia Commons

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