As we launch into 2014 and many of us strive to continue our resolutions of living better, healthier lives, let’s talk about eating healthier too. With all the talk out there about what we should and shouldn’t be shoving in our mouths, what about those foods we never even think about in the grocery store? Those elusive superfoods ensure your diet is packed full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, protein and antioxidants.
I know I’m guilty of not eating enough of these – so let’s take a look at them together and make a pact to add more of them to our carts the next time we’re at the supermarket!
- Beans—That old adage about beans being good for your heart is true! Beans are chock full of folate, vitamin B1, magnesium, molybdenum, soluble fiber, iron and potassium. Their soluble fibre acts like a sponge for cholesterol and gets rid of it before it can damage your arteries. A number of studies have found that diets high in soluble fibre slash cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent! Plus, beans are among the top antioxidant foods.
- Yogurt—Love your daily morning yogurt? It’s bursting with pantothenic acid, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), calcium, phosphorous, potassium and iodine to help you build strong bones. You also may be familiar with its beneficial live bacteria, called probiotics, which regulate those harmful bacteria in your intestines. Always make sure it’s organic.
- Oats—Do you cherish a warm bowl of oatmeal? Oats have incredible cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering powers due to their beta-glucan, a soluble fibre. Studies suggest that just one cup a day of cooked oat bran, 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal or thee packets of instant oatmeal can pack enough beta-glucan to lower blood cholesterol by about five percent and heart attack risk by about 10 percent.
- Flaxseed—Just a tablespoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled over your favorite cereal or combined with yogurt will give you 2.3 grams of fiber. It’s also full of lingams which help block estrogen receptors on cells and reduce rates of certain hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. Their anti-inflammatory properties can also help treat acne and asthma.
- Cinnamon—Did you pile the cinnamon on some of your favorite festive drinks? Or do you use it in your cooking? Here’s why you might want to start. Cinnamon improves blood sugar control in people with diabetes, prevents blood clots and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that have reportedly demolished E. coli, among other types of bacteria.
- Beets—Beets are comparable to spinach (another key superfood) with one of the best sources of folate and betaine that help lower levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Those natural red pigments (betacyanins) have also been proved to be potent cancer fighters!
- Goji berries—Like raisins, Goji berries are chewy and flavorful (think cranberry/cherry) and have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years. According to Tufts University researchers, Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings (a method of gauging antioxidant power) of any fruit and scientists have found that their natural sugars reduce insulin resistance, a risk factor of diabetes.
- Pumpkin seeds—Did you overload of pumpkin seeds this past Halloween? You probably got your fill of magnesium. According to research studies, magnesium helps with the creation of adenosine triphosphate (energy molecules), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, pumping of your heart, bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function. They also provide a variety of nutrients other than magnesium such as manganese, copper, protein and zinc and contain plant compounds like phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants which give your health an added boost.
- Blueberries—Experts note that blueberries have more antioxidants than 40 other common fruits and vegetables tested! The blue pigments protect against heart disease, cancer and age-related blindness and memory loss, plus ward off urinary tract infections.
- Broccoli—Think of broccoli as your number one cancer fighter. Their sulfur compounds flag our genes to boost production of enzymes that detoxify potentially cancer-causing compounds. Get your fill of broccoli to tackle your risks of breast, lung, stomach and colon cancers.
Are there some foods you know are amazing that we didn’t include in this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below that we can add to our grocery lists!
Sources: Men’s Health and Best Health Magazine