Super Foods: The Secret to Better Health?


IMG_2478Have you noticed more ads and articles about Super Foods in your favorite magazines like Chatelaine, MORE, O?  All of you who subscribe to sites like Groupon, Wagjag, Living Social, and ethicalDeal may also be noticing the increased number of packaged Super Foods that are being sold like Goji and Acai berries, super greens, and green tea.  What’s with these foods and why are they called super?

Good, Wholesome Foods…

The Super Foods we are hearing about today have been around for a long time and have been part of the human diet forever, as measured in our lifetimes!  Basically, they are foods that are very high in nutrients and that may contain phytochemicals such as antioxidants, omega fatty acids, dietary fibers, and so on.  These super foods are being hailed as the miracle foods for decreasing the chances of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease.  As with any medical research, there are studies that show great effects, some with no effects and some with varied effects on fighting diseases.  “Ultimately it comes down to how well you are absorbing nutrients and how nutritious your diet is overall.” http://greensmoothiecommunity.com/2013/04/01/superfoods-for-green-smoothies/#more-265.  If you want to read about research on phytochemicals, visit the American Cancer Society site at http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/phytochemicals.

Bottom line, eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish and lean proteins will help keep you healthy!

What Super Foods are in Your Fridge or Pantry?

Many of the whole foods we’ve talked about and included in recipes in previous blog posts are super foods, so we bet they’re already in your fridge or pantry!  Rather than covering all the super foods out there, we want to share with you a few of our favorites and encourage you to include these into more of your meals.

IMG_2696Avocado

   Facts:

  • Provides 18 essential amino acids necessary for body to form complete protein;
  • Contains fiber and protein that is easily absorbed by body;
  • Provides healthy fat that boosts HDL levels (“good” cholesterol) to regulate triglyceride levels, preventing diabetes;
  • Excellent source of carotenoids, which deliver high quality vitamin A to body and protect eye health; also enhances functioning of immune system and reproductive system;
  • High in unique combination of vitamins and minerals that guard against inflammation;
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fats that protect against heart disease.

   Recipe Ideas:

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Swiss chard

Facts:

  • As evidenced by its colorful stems, stalks and leaf veins, contains amazing variety of phytonutrients providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits;
  • Fiber and protein rich, which are particularly useful in regulating blood sugar levels;
  • Very good supply of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K that provides outstanding bone support.

Recipe Ideas:

  • Chop 1 to 2 cups and include in rice, quinoa, frittatas, or stir-fry.
  • Saute with 1 tsp grapeseed oil, 1/2 cup minced onion, 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 cup mushrooms, and other vegetables.
  • Tear into small pieces and add to salads for extra crunch and bitter-sweetness.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Papaya

   Facts:

  • Contains no cholesterol;
  • Very low in calories (39 calories per 100 g);
  • Good amount of soluble dietary fiber that helps normal bowel movements;
  • One of highest vitamin C content fruits, important for reducing free radicals, boosting immune system and acting as anti-inflammatory;
  • Excellent source of vitamin A and flavonoids like B-carotene that maintain skin health and visual sight;
  • Rich in many essential B-complex vitamins that play vital role in metabolism;
  • Contains good amount of potassium, which as an important component of cell and body fluids helps control heart rate and blood pressure;
  • Important as a remedy for stomachaches.

Recipe Ideas:

  • Breakfast cup – cut in half, scoop out seeds, fill with greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, ground flax.
  • Chop or slide into salads, salsas, smoothies, oatmeal.
  • Puree and add to marinades for chicken, seafood, or lean beef; or add to salad dressings.
  • Puree and freeze as popsicles (add 1 tsp honey if prefer sweeter).
  • Dehydrate and eat as snack.

IMG_2694Cacao (Raw Unprocessed Chocolate)

Facts:

  • Contains number of vitamins and minerals; flavonoids with antioxidant properties; essential heart-healthy fat; protein; and fiber;
  • Linked to lowering blood pressure and improving circulation;
  • Promotes cardiovascular health;
  • Can improve digestion;
  • Can improve mood and mental wellbeing.

Recipe Ideas:

  • Top 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs in oatmeal, smoothies, salads, yogurts.
  • Substitute for chocolate chips in dessert recipes, granolas, muffins, cookies.
  • Grind in coffee grinder and use as powder in desserts and on lattes, cappuccinos.
  • Pop into your mouth and eat as your healthy candy!

There are endless other super foods that are equally as yummy.

Your challenge for this week: Be adventurous by trying a new super food and tell us about it.  What did you try?  How did you prepare it?  Please provide your comments so we can share.

Recipe of the Week: Blueberry Avocado Hemp Shake

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About aspireperspirenourish

We are sisters who share a passion for healthy living! Each of us brings different knowledge and skills to this project, some similar experiences and a whole lot of shared passion for mindful, fit and nutritious living. This blog is our way of spreading our knowledge and passion about motivation, fitness and nutrition for everyday living. It is also our forum for finding like-minded people from whom we can learn. To learn more about us, please see our "About" page.
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