The thought of eating super healthy gets me excited, until I walk into the grocery store and see all kinds of foreign objects in the fruits and vegetables section. “What is this prickly thing,” I ask myself. “Am I supposed to EAT that?” I approach these alien foods, but quickly shy away and revert to the boxed foods section when a clerk says “are you finding everything ok?”— “No I’m not finding everything ok! I came into the store to stock up on healthy foods and I have no idea what I’m doing,” I fee like saying.
If the thought of shopping in the fruits and vegetables section freaks you out, print out this super-foods alphabet so that you can find what you are looking for the next time you go on a health mission. Think of this as “Super-foods For Dummies”
Almonds: The most nutritionally dense nut, almonds offer 13 grams of unsaturated fat and 3.4 grams of fiber in just one serving. Almonds may also help with weight loss, have major benefits for the heart, and reduce total cholesterol.
Blueberries: Not only are they tasty, but blueberries are a super-fruit full of antioxidants that may help fight disease and sustain brain health. One study found that blueberries may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells! (Ok, these I can find in the grocery store.)
Chia: Perhaps most well known from the Chia-pet craze, chia seeds have much more to offer than a humorously shaped potted plant. Packed with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium, chia seeds are quickly gaining popularity in the health-food market. You can either add the seeds to smoothies or yogurt or take a chia seed oil supplement to get all the benefits of this super-food.
Dates: No, I’m not talking about going out to eat with a love-interest, but something even better! Did you know that dates can be used as a substitute for sugar and/or butter while baking? They are also full of fiber and vitamins and minerals including potassium, selenium, copper, and magnesium! That’s more beneficial for my health than any date I’ve ever been on! Finally, a date that truly cares about me…
Eggs: Eggs have many more benefits than just being high in protein. They are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They can help protect your eyes from free radicals and eye degeneration, and the yolks contain a particular B-vitamin that is essential for proper brain function. Eggs-actly what you should be eating for breakfast!
Flax: You already know that the Omega-3’s in flax can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, but did you know that flax seeds are higher in fiber than flax oil? Try adding some flax seeds to baked goods, oatmeal, or a salad.
Greek Yogurt: This yogurt is set apart from the others because it has been strained to remove excess liquid. After this process, Greek yogurt ends up full of protein and probiotics. It takes about 4 pounds of raw milk to produce one pound of Greek yogurt, but Greek yogurt ends up lower in carbohydrates and sodium.
Hemp: The biggest health benefit comes from protein and essential fatty acids, which may help fight coronary heart disease, cancer, and even symptoms of depression. The GLA in hemp adds a variety of benefits ranging from allergy defense, to helping treat ADD, and even helping lower cholesterol levels.
Ice Water: When the body is exposed to cold temperatures, it burns extra calories to keep itself warm, increasing metabolism by up to 50% in the process. Therefore, drinking a glass of water not only hydrates you, but can also speed up your metabolism and increase weight loss. Ice, ice, baby!
Jalepenos: These peppers aren’t spicy just for the heck of it. Capsaicin, a compound found in spicy peppers like jalepenos, has been found to speed up the metabolism and suppress the appetite.
Kale: Ringing in at only 36 calories per cup, kale is a great low-calorie source of fiber, calcium, and iron. It is also full of vitamins A, K, and C.
Leeks: These veggies can offer some protective powers when it comes to cancer. The organosulfur compounds in leeks have been credited with everything from boosting immunity to kicking cancer. (So that’s what those weird looking things in the veggie aisle are!)
Milk: Research suggests that chocolate milk could help improve athletic performance and lead to better body composition. This treat provides the ideal ratio of carbs and protein for consuming after you work out. Got chocolate milk?
Nuts: The unsaturated fats contained in nuts are good for you heart and some can even help lower blood pressure and body fat. However, homosapien nuts can have the opposite effects.
Oatmeal: The whole-grains in oatmeal make it a great source of fiber, which is known to help lower blood cholesterol, aid in digestion, and help improve metabolism. While the oatmeal in packets are extremely convenient, it is ideal to make your own oatmeal in order to cut out any unnecessary sugar or additives.
Pineapple: Is your sweet tooth calling to you after eating all of these veggies? Pineapple is the answer! This fruit is known for boosting the immune system.
Quinoa: While it looks like rice, quinoa actually comes from a seed related to green leafy veggies like kale and Swiss chard. This is one of the only grains or seeds that provides the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies are incapable of producing, and therefore must consume.
Radish: Some studies suggest that certain compounds in radishes may be able to help stop the growth of some cancers, including breast cancer! Other compounds in radishes may aid in muscle recovery after a tough workout. You look radishing, darling!
Spinach: Popeye’s ancient wisdom about spinach still holds true. These greens are full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and vitamins that promote vision and bone health. Due to its high levels of vitamin A, spinach is good for your skin too! “Strong to the finish, cause I eat my spinach”
Tumeric: Its not just the yellow color that makes this spice famous, but also its use for treating digestive problems and relieving pain. Tumeric gets its super powers from an antioxidant called curcumin, a traditional Indian medicine used for thousands of years to treat inflammation-based conditions ranging from IBS and autoimmune disorders to arthritis and tendonitis.
Ugli Fruit: Also known as Tangelo, this citrus fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, Seville orange, and a tangerine. Just one serving contains about 140% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C! Don’t let its ugli looks deceive you.
Vegetables: You can’t have too many veggies! Whether you go with green veggies,(a great source of iron and calcium), red veggies (full of lucopene and anthocyanins), or allium veggies like onions (full of antioxidants), you are doing your health a huge favor.
Wheatgrass: “Shots for everyone!” Ok, not the kind of shots you’re probably thinking of. Those may seem like a super-food at the time, but they are not. A shot of wheatgrass, however, is a quick way to get a dose of greens, offering many health benefits to its drinkers including live enzymes that aid digestion.
Xigua: This fancy word is really just another name for watermelon (I needed a word that started with X.) This refreshing fruit is packed with water and is low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C. Lycopene, an essential carotenoid found in some fruits, can protect the body from UV rays, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.
Yams: Not to be confused with its fraternal twin the sweet potato, this super-food is low on the glycemic index, meaning that it can be eaten without negatively affecting blood sugar levels, thus making them a great food to consume for sustained energy. Yams are also a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are key for the proper function of the nervous system.
Zucchini: Last but not least, this green-skinned veggie is packed with vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese, and folate. With only 20 calories per cup and a high water content, this veggie is a great snack for staying hydrated in the summer heat.