May 13, 2015
10 SuperFoods You Should Be Eating
You've heard the term SuperFood over and over, but what the heck is that? A superfood turns you into superwoman. Okay, not really, but pretty close. A superfood is a nutrient dense food, a food that has benefits that go far beyond the normal foods in your diet. These foods are powerhouse foods, they pack a punch of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and can even prolong life, reduce the risk of disease and have properties that can be cancer-preventing!
Here's 10 superfoods that should be in your diet! In no specific order...
1. Avocados- Do not avoid avocados because of the fat! Fat is a necessary piece of your nutrition. Avocados increase HDL (that's the good cholesterol) and decrease triglycerides. Avocados are actually considered a large berry, hence the seed! This fruit is high in Vitamin K, B6 and C and has more potassium than a banana! The glutathione content has been researched to prevent certain types of oral and prostate cancer. They've also been found to stabilize blood sugar and help keep you full longer, which results in excellent effects for weight loss! The folate in avocados even supports brain and nervous system growth in unborn babies. It has high levels of lutein, usually found in green leafy vegetables, which is a powerful cartenoid (antioxidant) to protect eyesight. An added benefit, avocados have thick skin! Which causes them to be low in pesticides even if not organic. Yay! You can add 1/4- 1/2 of an avocado to your daily diet inside your smoothie, on top of a salad, or in a Mexican dish, you can even use it anywhere you would normally use mayo! How's that for versatility? Try it in my Avocado Hummus, it's like a piece of heaven in a dish!
2. Chia Seeds- Often called Nature's Most Perfect Natural Food. In Ancient Mayan language, "chia" means "strength." It is said that the Mayans and Aztecs regarded this superfood higher than gold. It was used by warriors. I am a warrior, are you? The protein and fiber in Chia Seeds makes them great for endurance, they are often called the "runner's seed." Okay, you may not be an ancient warrior, but you do want to stay satisfied longer and sustain your body and muscles, yes? Add Chia Seeds to your diet. I cannot say enough good things about them! Chia seeds can act as a detox to remove junk from your body, they have 3 times the antioxidants of blueberries, they are high in omegas 3 and 6, they have more iron than spinach and they are pesticide- free! And truly, I could go on forever, ADD THEM to your diet. You can make a pudding out of them, sprinkle on your salad or in yogurt, add to your smoothie, and so much more. I add them in my Double Chocolate, Double Protein Oats, here.
3. Berries- Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, acai, and goji berries. Berries are high in phytochemicals, which protect your cells from damage, antioxidants, and vitamins. They've been shown to reduce inflammation and manage arthritis, increase mental stability, relieve stress, improve your hair, skin, and nails. And they are high in fiber and folate!
4. Kale- Kale is King of Green Leafy Veggies. It is super high in vitamins A (from its beta-carotene), K, and C - over 100% of the RDA of these vitamins can be found in just one cup of kale. It is low in calories, and so nutrient dense. It is extremely high in antioxidants as well. And kale can help lower cholesterol and ward off heart disease. Researchers are currently studying its effects to protect against cancer, and the results are impressive. One easy way to get your kale is to add it to your smoothie! You can also mix some in your salad or make some kale chips, which are quite delicious! Here's my recipe.
5. Black Beans- Black beans are kinda magical. No, you can't grow a beanstalk up to the clouds, but you can get a great blend of protein and fiber from a small amount of black beans. They are helpful to our digestive system, lowering the risk for colon cancer. Black beans are high in phytonutrients, which may surprise you since they are usually found in veggies, not so much in legumes. The phytonutrients in black beans include a powerful blend of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The protein-fiber blend is not only great for your digestive track, but also for regulating blood sugar. The soluble fiber in black beans has been linked to cardiovascular health. I like black beans because they are so versatile and easy to use. Grab a can of (no-salt added) black beans and use them by themselves or in your favorite food dishes. I sprinkle some on my Clean Eating Nachos!
6. Coconut Oil- Coconut oil is a Medium Chain Fatty Acid. I know, I just lost you. In short, the body does not have to break down the fats before absorbing the health benefits of this oil. Coconut oil is metabolized differently than other fats. Coconut oil has been linked to weight loss! Imagine that, your cooking oil can help with your weight management. In fact, you can even just take a teaspoon a day like medicine! The lauric acid in coconut oil protects against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It does more than kill bacteria, it also kills hunger. This is again because of the way this medium chain triglyceride is metabolized. It keeps you satisfied longer and increases energy expenditure, i.e. helps you to burn calories. And guess which fat it burns best? Abdominal fat! YESSSS! Coconut oil also possesses the same health benefits as other super foods, it's high in vitamins and nutrients, reduces risk of cancer, boosts brain function, protects hair, skin, nails, and regulates cholesterol. When purchasing coconut oil, get UNREFINED!
7. Oats- A great source of soluble fiber, which we learned from black beans lowers the risk of heart disease. The FDA also recommends oats to lower cholesterol and LDLs. Oats are low in calories, but high in protein and fiber. They are sort of a "super grain." Oats are rich in magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, thiamine, and pantothenic acid and they even have phytonutrients. Steel cut oats are the highest in health benefits and easy to use, but rolled oats are also great for cooking and using in desserts! And oats are so inexpensive and readily available, add both types to your pantry!
8. Broccoli- Definitely super! Broccoli is one of the most nutritional vegetables. It has more Vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk. Broccoli is also a great source of fiber, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamin A (from its beta- carotene). And you guessed it, it's a cancer preventing! It has a high content of sulforaphane, which boosts the body's protective enzymes and detoxes cancer causing chemicals. Broccoli is so inexpensive, you can really afford to add it anywhere in your diet!
9. Plain Greek Yogurt- Yogurt often doesn't make the " Best Superfoods" lists. I put it on mine because it is versatile, easy to find, and inexpensive. Plain Greek Yogurt has little to no fat, no sugar, and has the "good" bacteria that your body may need. Yogurt is rich in calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. Greek yogurt also contains probiotic cultures and twice the amount of protein as regular yogurts, plus, it's low in lactose. Plain Greek yogurt is beneficial to the digestive track, lowers blood pressure, and is heart healthy. The pro-biotics also boost your immune system! I use Plain Greek Yogurt daily. It can be used anywhere you would normally use mayo and can masquerade as sour cream. Yes, it's tart, so when eating it plain you may feel like you're eating sour cream. Sweeten your yogurt with 1 tsp of raw honey or cinnamon, each hosts their own health benefits. You can also add fresh fruits, pure vanilla extra, or nut butters to your yogurt.
10. Cocoa Powder (did I just make your day?)- This one is a bonus! No, you don't need cocoa/cacao every day, but hey, it's a fun addition to a diet rich in superfoods. Cacao powder contains flavonoids, which lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. The powder tastes like chocolate, and has a fraction of the calories, almost zero fat, and when you add in those flavenoids/antioxidants, it's guilt-free! So if you've got a sweet tooth, opt for cocoa/cacao powder! Read the label before buying and be sure that your cocoa powder isn't processed. Processed cocoa powder is stripped of its antioxidants. Stay away from terms like "Dutch" or "alkalized." And make sure it's not sweetened!
I've chosen these 10 because they are all foods that you can EASILY find in your local store! Yes, I totally think you should be eating flax, spirulina, camu-camu, acerola cherries, maitake mushrooms, maca root, wheat grass, etc! But if you don't have Shakeology in your cabinet with it's 70 Superfoods in one bag, these superfoods will be difficult to find, if not impossible. When is the last time you saw Sacha Inchi in your local supermarket? Not so much.