You’ve made it another year and chances are, you’ve made a few resolutions as well. If you’re like most Americans, your goals are geared toward healthier eating, more exercise and perhaps quitting a bad habit (smoking, too much drinking, donuts for breakfast). What if this year you vowed to “pretty up” your diet as well? Here are 12 foods that will help you live longer, live better and live more beautifully!

  1. Black Garlic

Created through a process of aging using high temperatures and humidity, black garlic is a bit sweeter and less pungent that its white cousin. Initial research suggests that black garlic may have higher antioxidant properties than regular garlic due to its processing. Whether you stay with white or black, adding garlic to your diet this year will reap huge benefits!Beauty Benefit: Loaded with potent antioxidants, black garlic will help protect skin by reducing damage from those nasty free radicals that hit us every day.QUIZ: Are You Eating the Right Foods?

  1. Wasabi

If you’re a fan of sushi, you know all about wasabi. You know that it adds major flavor and you definitely know that if you eat too much, your mouth feels like it’s on fire! Have you ever wondered about its benefits though? A study in the journal Biofactors found that wasabi (and its family member horseradish) may have properties that inhibit certain cancers. The study also found that this spicy green paste you find next to your favorite sushi rolls (made from the wasabi plant) may even help to ward off food borne illness by inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria. Not a sushi lover? You can still use wasabi in everyday cooking by adding it to soups, marinades for meat and fish, salad dressing or dips.Beauty Benefit: With its antibacterial properties, this green gem may help prevent the ugly reality of throwing up after a bad bout of food poisoning.COLUMN: More Foods for Beauty

  1. Sea Vegetables

A great source of iron, sea vegetables are growing beyond the sushi restaurants. A 2009 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that seaweed may help in the reduction of breast cancer by lowering serum estrogens, increasing favorable estrogen metabolism and enhancing soy-stimulated conversion of phytoestrogens. Seaweed is now available in major grocery stores throughout the United States, usually sold as “snack pack” type sheets—it’s a much better choice than pretzels or potato chips in regard to calories, simple sugars and carbohydrates.Beauty Benefit: A great source of iron; these veggies from the sea are essential for healthy blood flow, which in turn will nourish skin and keep it glowing

  1. Figs

Figs are loaded with fiber (almost 6g for three) which makes them a dieter’s dream. Fiber helps to keep us fuller, longer, meaning we’ll eat less throughout the day. They are also versatile in the culinary world as well. Fig puree can replace oil in home baked muffins, cakes and cookies. They’re great in salads for some added sweetness and easily portable in your gym bag or desk drawer.Beauty Benefit: Lots of fiber means figs will help you stay in your favorite jeans (or get back into your high school jeans) by keeping you fuller, longer.MORE: Should You Keep Your Skinny Jeans?

  1. Popcorn

This 100-percent whole grain super food is high in fiber, low in calories, crunchy and satisfying. Popcorn, as it turns out, is nature’s perfect snack (just don’t add tons of butter, oil  or salt). Many individuals don’t realize, however, that popcorn is high in antioxidants as well, which may help in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.  What’s the best way to prepare? You guessed it, air popped. Cooking over the stove with a small amount of canola or peanut oil also works.Beauty Benefit: The magnesium in popcorn will help to keep your bones super strong and beautiful.QUIZ: What’s Your Eating Style?

  1. Hempseed

2011 saw the growth of the hempseed market and you can expect to see it explode in 2012. How can hempseeds help you? For starters, it’s high in protein, potassium and magnesium. And while the hempseed you’re finding in your food products won’t give you any psychotropic effects, it may help to reduce your risk for heart disease. A 2010 study in the Journal Nutrition and Metabolism provided a review of dietary hempseed and found that the high amount of linoleic acid in hempseed may help to reduce cholesterol and thus, overall heart disease risk.Beauty Benefit: The B vitamins in hempside will give you the energy you need to get your 10,000 steps a day. A MUST for a beautiful body inside and out!

  1. Black Eyed Peas

I love beans! They are high in B vitamins, fiber and protein, low in fat and completely filling. Beans are one of the foods that provide the most “bang for your nutritional buck” by packaging all its nutrients in their tiny shells. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the U.S.D.A. wants you to love them as well. Included in the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a plea to eat at least 1 ½ cups of legumes every week. Black eyed peas are great alone or mixed into salads or pureed as a dip. They also are said to bring good luck for the new year.Beauty Benefit: The B6 in black eyed peas may help ease eczema and dermatitis.

  1. Krill Oil

A 2007 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that 300mg daily supplementation of krill oil resulted in significant decreases in inflammation and arthritic symptoms in cardiac and arthritis patients. Other studies have found that krill oil works as effectively as omega-3s from other sources, yet at a much lower dose. Furthermore, krill oil has been found to raise our good HDL cholesterol and lower our triglycerides as well. Krill oil can be found anywhere where supplements are sold.Beauty Benefit: The omega-3s in Krill oil may help decrease inflammation which may slow down the formation of wrinkles and prevent the incidence of acne.MORE: A Delicious, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  1. Canned Salmon

If you’re a fan of my blogs, then you know I talk about salmon, and all its wonderful health benefits, a lot. Wild salmon, the healthiest type of salmon available, can often be expensive and many individuals turn to farm raised salmon as an alternative. Canned salmon, however, is usually wild and extremely versatile in the kitchen. You can add canned salmon to salads and pasta dishes or make easy salmon burgers by combining fresh herbs of your choice, canned salmon, egg whites and a grain of your choice (100-percent whole wheat panko, oats, 100-percent whole grain bread crumbs, etc). Canned salmon has plenty of omega-3s (more than in canned tuna); calcium, vitamin D and lean protein to keep your heart, brain, bones and baby healthy!Beauty Benefit: A true beauty food! The vitamin D in salmon can promote stronger nails, enhance hair health, decrease puffiness and make skin glow!

  1. Kale

When it comes to preventing cancer, it doesn’t get much healthier than kale, yet many individuals shun from buying kale at the stores because it’s a bit “high maintenance” when it comes to prep. Throw your excuses out the door, now many grocers offer kale already prepped or in the form of chips. Kale is in the same family as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts; long known to be the kings in the green world. It’s high in vitamin K, A and C and now; with all the different ways of including them in your diet, there’s no excuse to not have kale in 2012!Beauty Benefit: The vitamin K in kale is an all around beauty booster but can especially help to maintain proper eye health; keeping your peepers beautiful!

  1. Edamame

If you’re looking for a great source of protein but don’t want to get it from an animal product, soybeans (edamame) is the way to go (1/2 cup has about the same amount of protein 4 ounces of chicken). Further, studies have shown that soybeans may help to reduce LDL cholesterol as well as the overall risk of breast cancer.Beauty Benefit: Protein in soybeans can help to keep your hair and nails strong and healthy.MORE: Why You Can’t Stand Certain Foods

  1. Almond Butter

Move over peanut butter, almond butter is now popular! Almond butter is high in vitamin E, a must for great skin and hair! Almond butter is also chock-full of monounsaturated fats (prevalent in tree nuts) which have been documented in several studies. (Here and here.) Almonds have been found to help reduce the risk of diabetes and to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as obesity. While peanut butter is always a great choice, almond butter provides a variation from the norm; just make sure the almond butter you purchase is void of added sugars or partially hydrogenated fats; two things that increase your risk for heart disease.Beauty Benefit: Vitamin E enhances scalp circulation promoting healthy hair growth and may play a role in preventing hair loss.