Super Foods Previous Articles
June 4th, 2011
10 Everyday Super Foods That Can Save Your Life
If only there were some kind of potion or pill that had everything you needed for weight loss and good health. Unfortunately, no such pill exists, but there is a solution -- something that not only promotes wellness and weight control but tastes good, too. These multitasking "super foods" provide multiple disease-fighting nutrients, fill you up so you can enjoy plenty of food without excess calories, and are easy to include in everyday meals. After all, what good is a super food that is hard to find, difficult to prepare, and the kids won't eat?
Eaten regularly, these foods will help you satisfy the recommendations of the U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guideline, giving you nutrients that are typically missing from American diets. According to the Guidelines, Americans need to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
Although this list of top 10 super foods earn their mark because they are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, are great sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients, and they can fight against most of the common diseases, don't forget that portion size matters, even when it comes to healthy foods. You can take more liberties when eating simply prepared vegetables, but you should take care to eat other super foods in sensible portions. Foods like nuts are nutrient rich, but if you overeat them you can pack on the pounds, and that defeats the purpose.
1. Low fat or fat-free plain yogurt is higher in calcium than some other dairy products and contains a great package of other nutrients, including protein and potassium. It can also be enhanced with other good-for-you substances, like probiotics (for a healthy balance of bacteria for digestion). Look for plain yogurt fortified with vitamin D, and add your own fruit to control sweetness and calories. Yogurt can also be used in entree and bakery recipes, in dips for veggies, etc. Dairy foods in general contain practically every nutrient you need for total nutrition -- and in just the right balance. No other food group in the diet is as complete or as economical. Yogurt Recipes
2. Eggs are nutritious, versatile, economical, and a great way to fill up on quality protein. Studies show if you eat eggs at breakfast, you may eat fewer calories during the day and lose weight without significantly affecting cholesterol levels. Eggs also contain 12 vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory. Enjoy them at any meal or hard-cooked as a portable snack. Egg Recipes
3. Nuts have gotten a bad rap because of their high fat content. But their protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and antioxidant content earn them a place on the top 10 list. The key to enjoying nuts, experts say, is portion control. All nuts are healthful in small doses, and studies show they can help lower cholesterol levels and promote weight loss. An ounce a day of nuts help fill you up, and add texture and flavor to salads, side dishes, baked goods, cereals, and entrees. Put together your own 100-calorie packs of nuts for easy and portable snacks.
4. Kiwis are among the most nutritionally dense fruits, full of antioxidants. One large kiwi supplies your daily requirement for vitamin C, and is also a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin A. It also contains vitamin E, which is one of the “missing nutrients”, and kiwi is one of the only fruits that provides it. The sweet taste and colorful appearance of kiwis provides a great ingredient for desserts, salads, side dishes, or just enjoyed on its own. Kiwifruit can also have a mild laxative effect due to their high fiber content.
5. Quinoa is now readily available in many supermarkets and is one of the best whole grains you can eat. It is an ancient grain, easy to make, interesting, high in protein (8 grams in 1 cup cooked), fiber (5 grams per cup) and a naturally good source of iron. Quinoa also has plenty of zinc, vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Quinoa is as easy to prepare as rice and can be eaten alone or mixed with vegetables, nuts, or lean protein for a whole-grain medley. Try to make at least half your daily grain servings whole grains. In addition to quinoa, try barley, oats, buckwheat, whole wheat, wild rice, and millet. Quinoa Recipes
6. Beans, beans, good for your heart -- really! Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, as well as soluble fiber, which fills you up and helps rid your body of waste. They're also a good, low-fat source of protein, carbohydrates, magnesium, and potassium. Don't forget soybeans too, as they also contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Beans can easily substitute for meat or poultry as the centerpiece of a meal, but they also work as a side dish, or tossed into soups, stews, or egg dishes. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 cups weekly. Bean Recipes
7. Salmon is a super food because of its omega-3 fatty acid content. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help protect heart health. That's why the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon twice weekly. Salmon is low in calories (200 for 3 ounces) has lots of protein, is a good source of iron, and is very low in saturated fat. You can simply grill or bake it, top it with salsas or other low-fat sauces, or serve it on top of salad greens. If you don't like salmon, try eating other kinds of fish, like canned tuna. And what about the mercury content? The benefits of eating salmon or other fatty fish twice weekly far outweigh any risks, but if you are concerned, check with your doctor. Salmon and Seafood Recipes
8. Broccoli is one of America's favorite vegetables because it tastes good and is available all year long. It's a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and bone-building vitamin K, and has plenty of fiber to fill you up and help control your weight. Some people think beta-carotene (vitamin A) is only found in orange and yellow vegetables, but broccoli is also an excellent source. You can eat broccoli raw, lightly steamed, stir-fried, roasted, or grilled. Eat it as a side dish, or toss into grains, egg dishes, soups, and salads. Broccoli Recipes
9. Sweet potatoes are a delicious member of the dark orange vegetable family, which lead the pack in vitamin A content. Substitute a baked sweet potato (also loaded with vitamin C, calcium, and potassium) for a baked white potato. And before you add butter or sugar, taste the sweetness that develops when a sweet potato is cooked -- and think of all the calories you can save over that loaded baked potato. If we eat would more dark orange vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, and orange bell peppers, we can blunt the effect of sodium on blood pressure and reduce bone loss. Sweet Potato Recipes
10. Berries pack an incredible amount of nutritional goodness into a small package. They're loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. And their flavors satisfy sweets cravings for a fraction of the calories in baked goods. Blueberries lead the pack because they are among the best source of antioxidants and are widely available. Cranberries are also widely available fresh, frozen, or dried. All can add flavor and nutrition to numerous dishes, from salads and cereals to baked goods and yogurt. Berry Recipes
Healthy eating doesn't have to take extra time out of your busy day--reaching for a cup of low fat yogurt or a fistful of almonds is as quick as grabbing a bag of chips. And the taste? Out of this world.
(From the Article, "10 Everyday Super Foods")