10 Best Superfoods to Eat….And Why
Have you ever wondered what might be examples of a dietitian’s food staples? Wonder no longer! I have compiled a short list of 10 easy items I love that will provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help you jump-start a healthier lifestyle. Some foods might be familiar to you while some might not.
Remember that a healthy diet for an athlete does NOT mean eating these 10 foods and ONLY these 10 foods, but rather using them as a guide for a balanced diet. It’s a way to start expanding your food horizons to include more variety in your daily food routine.
* The orange-yellow color of mangoes means they are a great source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can be converted to Vitamin A, which is important for the health of your skin, eyes, immune system, and cells.
* Tip: How do you cut a mango? Stand it up on one end and cut it into 3 sections to avoid the oblong pit. Take one of the halves and cut a cross-hatch pattern but be sure not to cut through the skin. Flip it inside out and enjoy, or cut the cross-hatch squares off with a knife.
* Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Add them to salads, smoothies, or cereal for an instant nutrient boost.
* Tip: Frozen blueberries also pack in tons of nutrients and won’t spoil as quickly as fresh ones. You can even buy fresh ones and freeze them immediately for a great kid-friendly snack that is fun to eat.
* This fabulous green food is a great source of healthy, unsaturated fats. Increased intake of unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats has shown to improve cholesterol levels.
* Tip: Like burritos? Substitute guacamole instead of sour cream and cheese, but not flavor.
* Baby spinach is one food I usually have in my fridge. Spinach is a source of non-heme iron, meaning it is an iron source but is not as well absorbed as the heme iron from meats. However, you can increase absorption by also eating tomatoes or citrus fruits, or other sources of vitamin C at the same time.
* Tip: Increase iron absorption by trying a spinach salad topped with strawberries, mangoes, or mandarin oranges and vinaigrette dressing.
* Kale is a powerful leafy green that is low and calories and high in vitamin K and other antioxidants. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting.
* Tip: Steam kale for 5 minutes and prepare with sesame oil and a pinch of salt for a rich-tasting vegetable dish, or serve cold as a salad.
* Lentils are part of the legume family. They are high in protein, fiber, and low in fat. Fiber is important for regulating our digestive system, stabilizing blood sugar, and helping us stay full.
* Tip: For a heartier soup, add brown lentils.
7. Greek Yogurt
* Yogurt in general is a great source of calcium which is important for bone health. However, because of the way Greek yogurt is strained, it contains much more protein than its regular counterpart (One serving usually has the amount of protein in 2-3 oz of meat!)
* Tip: Watch for fat content in some Greek yogurts: choose low-fat or fat-free and combine with fruit for a great snack.
* Hummus is a spread/dip made of garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans are another great source of protein and fiber, which will help build and repair muscle as well as keep you full.
* Tip: Try with slices of raw celery, carrots, or cucumbers for a great way to add more vegetables to your diet. Hummus is easy to make and a fun recipe for kids to experiment with.
* The USDA recommends choosing at least 8 oz of cooked seafood per week. Salmon is a source of omega-3 fatty acids as well that are important for heart and brain health.
* Tip: Salmon is great for grilling. Try it with a maple glaze for a sweet and delicious main dish.
* Unsure what this quinoa craze is about? Quinoa is an ancient grain that is one of the few “complete” plant-based proteins. This means it contains all the essential amino acids our body needs to get from our diet. It’s a whole grain that is perfect as a substitute for rice or the base of a yummy summer salad.
* Tip: Boil 2 parts water 1 part quinoa for about 10 minutes. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil and drizzle over quinoa with a pinch of salt for a simple side dish.