To live a healthy life, it is important to keep an eye on your eating patterns, combining healthy choices from across all food groups while paying attention to calorie limits. Research continually shows that healthy dietary patterns can reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.
However, there are a few things that can be singled out for special “superfood” recognition. These foods offer very important nutrients that can put extra power into your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.
Superfoods can power-pack your diet
- Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, which will aid in preventing heart disease. Whether you buy it frozen, fresh or canned, choose options like salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring and mackerel.
- Nuts, any nuts, but particularly pecans, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts, are a good source of plant protein and monounsaturated fats, which also helps to prevent heart disease.
Add some to your yogurt or oatmeal, or have a handful as a snack. Nuts contain a lot of calories, so limit your amount. Nut butters, such as peanut butter, also adds great taste to vegetables and salads.
- Whole grains are a good source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.
It also contains several B vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals. Research shows it can protect against diabetes and heart disease and lower cholesterol. Have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. You can also substitute your regular baked potato with quinoa, bulgar, brown rice or wheat berries.
Make sure, when buying bread, you look for “100% whole wheat flour”.
- Berries are sweet and rich in color which means they are high in antioxidants and helps fight of diseases. It is also high in fiber. When not in season, buy it frozen and add to your cereal, smoothies, yogurt or eat plain as a snack.
- Yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium.
It also contains live cultures (probiotics) that protects your body against harmful bacteria. Watch out for flavored or fruit yogurt, which usually contains a lot of added sugar. Buy plain yogurt and add your favorite fruit. You can also replace your usual mayonnaise or sour cream with plain yogurt when making dips and sauces.
- Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and polyphenols, all which reduces the risk of heart disease.
Use it in pasta or rice dishes and replace butter and margarine. You can also use it when sautéing, as a dressing or drizzle over vegetables.
- Tomatoes are extremely high in vitamin C and lycopene which can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
It can be enjoyed in a salad, in stews, soups and salads or as tomato sauce over your pasta.
- Cruciferous vegetables like turnips, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, radishes, collard greens, kale, cauliflower are a good source of vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals which will aid in preventing some types of cancer.
Steam of stir-fry with healthy oils, herbs and seasoning. Add frozen veggies to your stews and soups.
- Dark, leafy greens are a good source of calcium, vitamin A and C and phytochemicals that has a positive effect on your overall health.
It also contains plenty of fiber. Spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collard greens and kale are great in salads, soups and stews. You can also sauté them in a little bit of olive oil.
- Legumes include peas, kidney, soybeans, black, red and garbanzo beans.
This type of food is a fantastic source of folate, fiber and plant-based protein, which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. Legumes can be added to salads, soups and casseroles.