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Top 10 Superfoods
Too busy to eat as healthfully as you’d like every day? Getting maximum nutritional punch from a few uber-foods can help fill the gaps. (A multivitamin is great insurance for days when you do miss a meal or two, but real food should always be your primary source of nutrients.) Keep these superfoods on your radar — and on hand — to improve your odds of getting enough of the most important nutrients.
Editor’s Note: We’ve included a few of Dr. Rouse’s recipes (he’s a chef too – read his bio here) to help you include more superfoods in everyday meals.
1) Green tea
Green tea contains polyphenols, which may reduce heart disease, cancer and stroke risk. Green tea also supports brain health and memory, likely due a key compound in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a flavonoid. EGCG is thought to boost the immune system and prevent tumors. Aim for at least two cups daily.
2) Wild omega-3-rich fish
The “good fats” in some fish are thought to help protect against heart disease and other inflammatory diseases.
Be careful about the type and amount of fish you consume; fish is now recommended no more than once a week due to concerns about mercury content from environmental pollution. Check the Organic Consumer Association website for the latest updates on which species of fish have the lowest mercury content.
Note that low-mercury but over-fished or destructively harvested species such as Atlantic cod, Atlantic flounder, Atlantic sole, Chilean sea bass, monkfish, orange roughy, shrimp, and snapper should be avoided for the environment's sake.
3) Blueberries and pomegranates
Both of these fruits have very high antioxidant activity, offering brain and memory protection. And research shows that drinking pomegranate juice may help with lowering the risk for hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.
Cabbage and Apple Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
4 cups cabbage
1 Granny Smith apple
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
fresh mint or cilantro
1/4 cup pomegranate, seeds
Combine cabbage with carrots and apple. Transfer to a serving bowl, add sunflower seeds and mix gently. In a small bowl combine lime juice with yogurt and honey. Add to cabbage mixture and toss well to coat. Divide onto four salad plates and sprinkle top of each with one tablespoon pomegranate seeds. Garnish with fresh cilantro or fresh mint.
Per Serving: 139 Calories; 5g Fat (29.1% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium.
4) Olive oil
One of the best types of fat you can opt for in your diet is olive oil. Among the many olive oil uses, one of the most promising is it's reported ability to help protect against heart disease and cancer. Recent research shows that heart-attack survivors on a Mediterranean diet had half the death rates of those on an ordinary low-fat diet. Olive oil is also high in antioxidant activity.
2 cups shelled edamame (if frozen, thaw first)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Mix and mash all ingredients together by hand or with a blender or food processor. Serve with crackers, chips, rice cakes, or veggies.
Per Serving: 114 Calories; 11g Fat (82.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 327mg Sodium.
5) Walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, macadamia nuts
Researchers at Loma Linda University found that adding two 1-ounce servings of almonds daily to study participants’ diets helped them to achieve a better intake of key nutrients and helped them to lower their intake of dietary detractors like trans fats, excessive sodium, sugars and cholesterol. Eating nuts may help protect against heart disease and inflammation, and research on walnuts showed that enjoying as little as eight to 11 walnuts daily reduced total cholesterol by up to 4 percent.
Limit yourself to about an ounce a day; about what fits in the palm of your hand with your hand open flat.
If you use walnuts as a pre-walk snack or add them to your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, you may enjoy even greater cholesterol-lowering benefit. Walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a compound called ellagic acid that has been shown to reduce artery-forming plaque. Nuts are a truly heart healthy snack, topping or addition to any meal.
6) Whole grains (especially oats, whole wheat, barley)
Whole grains help stabilize blood sugar and insulin and may protect against heart disease. They include all three parts of a grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole grain foods are made with all three of these grain components. Whole wheat flour, brown rice, barley and oatmeal are all whole grain foods. Look for the words “whole grain” on the label, and the word “whole” immediately before the name of the grain in the list of ingredients; it should be the first item in the ingredients list.
Products labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “seven-grain,” “pumpernickel,” “organic,” or “bran” may actually contain little or no whole grain.
Color is not an indication of whole grain. Bread is often brown because of added molasses, not necessarily because it contains a significant amount of whole grain. Other foods, like Cheerios®, contain whole grain but don’t have a dark brown color.
Contrary to popular perception, the benefits of whole grains go well beyond fiber and fiber’s role in digestive health. Whole grains contain vitamins B and E; the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc; phytonutrients; and many other important nutrients that appear to work together in powerful ways.
Processed foods such as crackers and ready-to-eat cereals can be excellent sources of whole grains and provide a convenient way to add whole grains to the diet. Just try to include non-processed whole grain foods.
Oaty Whole Grain Pancakes
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons flax seed, ground
1/2 cup reduced-fat buttermilk **
1/2 cup lowfat milk **
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix together dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients in separate bowl. Then add wet ingredients to the dry and whisk just until smooth. (For thinner pancakes, stir in additional 2 tablespoons milk.
Spray griddle or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat griddle over medium heat or to 375°.
For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook pancakes until puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other sides until golden brown.
Per Serving (2 pancakes): 182 Calories; 7g Fat (32.8% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 596mg Sodium.
**Feel free to substitute plain or vanilla soy milk in place of the buttermilk and regular milk. For a buttermilk-like effect, add about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to your cup of soymilk.
7) Red grapes (and red and white wine)
Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6, but mostly provide pleasure in their juiciness and sweetness. Red grapes also contain powerful phytochemicals (especially phenolics) that may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. These phenolic compounds are housed mostly in the skin of the red grapes.
Resveratrol, a polyphenolic stilbene found in the skins of red fruits including grapes, may be responsible for some of the health benefits ascribed to the consumption of red wine. Resveratrol has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity.
Enjoy grapes in salads, alone as a snack, or sliced in sandwiches.
8) Garlic and onion
These foods contain sulfur compounds that may protect against heart disease and some cancers.
Whole Wheat Quesadillas with Caramelized Onions, Brie and Pear
1 small red onion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 whole wheat tortillas
2 ounces brie, thinly sliced
1 medium Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced
In a medium sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add sliced onions. Gently stir fry over medium high heat until onions caramelize. Set aside. Meanwhile, place one whole wheat tortilla in the same skillet (you may need to lightly coat it with cooking oil spray) and layer one side with an ounce of sliced Brie cheese (or whatever cheese you desire), about 5 slices of pear and half of the caramelized onions. Fold one half over the over and cook over low heat, gently flipping midway through until cheese has melted. Cut each half into four slices. Serving size is 2 slices.
Per Serving: 187 Calories; 9g Fat (41.1% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 14mg Cholesterol; 280mg Sodium.
9) Crucifers (broccoli, kale, cabbage)
Cruciferous vegetables contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent cancer. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Plus, foods from the cruciferous and cabbage family (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips) may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.
These wonderful orbs contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant shown to help stimulate the immune system and protect from certain cancers, especially prostate. Lycopene is more highly concentrated in cooked tomato products including tomato paste, tomato sauce and even ketchup.
Bonus food: dark chocolate!
Very high on the happiness quotient, which alone is thought to add years to your life. Also contains flavonols, which are potent antioxidants.
10 Ways to Detoxify Your Body
Consult your doctor before using any health treatment — including herbal supplements and natural remedies — and tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications. The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intented as substitute for medical counseling.