Everyone’s heard of “super foods” – you know, the ones with crazy good health benefits thanks to being packed with nutrients?
While the term serves a marketing purpose by getting shoppers’ attention, certain foods are shown to reduce a variety of health risks when incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet.
Here are a few of my favorites, all accessible and easy to add to your menu. Try some throughout the week and take note of how good you feel.
Want an even bigger challenge? See how many super foods you can incorporate into your Super Bowl party spread, a feast typically reserved for wings and nachos.
Avocados: High in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, potassium, Vitamin E and an amino acid called glutathione, this fruit is great atop spinach salads and soups, or used as a spread on wraps instead of mayonnaise.
Blueberries: Rich in antioxidants (among the highest of any fruit), blueberries are also a great source of fiber. With less sugar than bananas and grapes, berries serve your body well. They improve the taste of plain fat-free Greek yogurt, smoothies and unsweetened cereals like oatmeal. Add them to your breakfast for a great source of quercetin and chlorogenic acid, both antioxidants. Blueberries are also likely more accessible than the acai berry, another fruit with similar qualities.
Salmon: The debate between farm-raised and wild salmon is a good one, and when available, I choose wild. There is a possibility of higher PCB’s, which are toxic chemicals, in farmed salmon. Salmon raised in more sustainable environments lowers the risk, but it can be hard to distinguish. Canned wild salmon is also an option, easily accessible and simple to cook with. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish, like salmon, at least twice a week to get enough omega-3 fats to reduce your risk for heart disease.
Spinach: This is one of my favorite foods and something even my picky nephew will eat – if it has a “handle” or long enough stem to hold. A rich source of Vitamins A, C and K, as well as fiber and other phytonutrients like lutein, spinach is low-calorie and packed with nutrients. The iron content is also amazing, at 25 percent of your daily needs in just 3 ounces. Since the iron in spinach is the less absorbable non-heme iron, pair it with Vitamin C – sliced strawberries or cherry tomatoes, for example. This helps negate a compound found in spinach called oxalic acid, which decreases iron absorption.
Walnuts and almonds: It’s just too hard to pick one! While I love the taste of almonds, and they are super for their Vitamin E and magnesium, walnuts win for their unique amount of omega-3 fat that comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Not only that, but the amount of polyphenols and antioxidants make walnuts and almonds a great choice for an anti-aging, health risk-reducing snack. Nuts also contain potassium, magnesium, calcium and other minerals. Just a handful a day will help you meet the recommendations for several nutrients and keep you satisfied until your next meal.
SuperFood Supper Example:
- 4 ounce salmon fillets, drizzled with olive oil (another super food) and herbs of your choice
- Spinach salad, topped with your favorite olive oil-based dressing, chopped avocado and crushed walnuts
- Blueberries atop Greek yogurt (another super food) with slivered almonds to garnish. Eat this as dessert or as a side dish.