I feel like superhero music should be playing in the background. Here, this will do:
Just play your favorite superhero music whenever you go to eat. Will make you feel much more powerful 😉 ok, so that was a bit of a blast from the past for me. Anybody else remember that show? or the old power rangers? typical, I loved the pink power ranger. I remember being obsessed with Bobby’s World as a kid also.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. I think most of know by now that not all food is created the same. Some are good for you, others not so good. Then there are those that are really great for you. This post is going to highlight those foods that are really great for you.
First off, we’re going to start of with the heart healthy nutrients. Many of these make an appearance in the superfoods I will list below so this little guide will also serve as a reference:
Heart Healthy Nutrients
Antioxidants: I have talked about this many times in the past. They basically protect your body from free radicals which ravage the body and cause destruction and chaos IF you don’t have a repertoire of antioxidants to fight them off. Beta-carotene (a form of Vitamin A), C and E are all antioxidants as well as the minerals selenium and magnesium. But be sure to get your antioxidants from food sources, not supplements. The research that is out there has not proven antioxidants to be effective when it comes to using them as supplements. The only way you’re going to get the benefits is by eating REAL food.
Fiber: fiber not only keeps you regular but it also can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by basically cleaning out the body of toxins and other things that shouldn’t be in the body. It has also been said to help ease inflammation which is a contributor to plaque buildup otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Again, like antioxidants, be sure to get your fiber from REAL food. And I don’t mean fiber bars. Often, these bars, while packing a punch with fiber, they also pack a punch with other things like high levels of fat and sugar. You may as well be eating a candy bar. You’re much better off eating fresh produce and whole grains to get your daily fiber.
Electrolytes: these little babies are super important as they have many important roles in the body such as ensuring a steady blood pressure as well as a healthy heart rhythm. The electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. You lose this important nutrients through excessive sweating which is why many sports drinks are targeted towards just that, athletes and people who work out. However, unless you are working out excessively for more than an hour, you should not resort to these drinks. They are just full of extra calories and extra sugar that your body doesn’t need. Instead, be sure to load up on some of the foods that are listed below. One last tidbit: chocolate milk has been shown to be an excellent recovery drink for those that work out hard. I know many sports dietitians who recommend this to their athletes.
Phytonutrients: these bad boys (well good boys) are compounds found in plants. They are basically antioxidants for plants. For us, they help protect the arteries from atherosclerosis as well as ward off blood clots. They can also help prevent cell damage and cancer cell replication as well as decrease cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats: these are otherwise known as the “good” fats. they help reduce inflammation as well as promote healthy cholesterol levels. monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids (essential fatty acids) are the two that you will find in the foods below.
Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries oh my! All of these berries pack quite the nutritional and flavorful punch! When in season, be sure to load up and freeze extras so you can enjoy them all year long. You can also buy frozen fruits as they are picked when ripe then frozen so you will always get ripe, “fresh” fruit when you go with frozen. Berries are amazing to eat on their own but you can also add them to oatmeal, crepes, and even use to make salsas to add to meats. Personally, I love making cobblers with whole grain flour and oats so I get the benefits of whole grains and the benefits of the berries all in one delicious meal. Berries are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients
Chia Seeds: If you have been following me then you will know that chia seeds are my new favorite food to add to anything and everything. They have no flavor to them and they do not require any extra work (unless you find it already ground, flax seed must be ground first to get the benefits). Chia seeds are a good source of protein (if you eat the white variety) or fiber (if you choose the black variety). These little babies contain 5 g of fiber per 1 tbsp (black variety)! Holy cow! Chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes, phytonutrients, unsaturated fats
Broccoli: One of my favorite veggies! Although ever since I discovered cauliflower can make a delicious chocolate cake it’s been at the top of my ‘favorite veggies’ list as well. Anyway, broccoli is a little fussy. Although it does pack a nutritional punch, it needs to be coddled. Do not boil broccoli as it loses nutrients that way and if it’s left too long in the fridge, the nutrients will also run away. Instead, try to steam it or roast it, ideally within a few days of buying it. Broccoli is a good source of antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes, phytonutrients
Fish: wild salmon, herring, and rainbow trout are the lowest in contaminants. Try to restrain yourself from buying those breaded fish snacks for your kids and instead, come up with fun ways to serve fish such as in fish tacos. Make a night of it; Taco Tuesday! Fish are a good source of antioxidants, unsaturated fats
Dark Greens: Kale, collard greens, and mustard greens are amongst some of the most nutritious greens and they are equally nutritious when steamed. I’ve found the best way to get these into the diet is to just chop them up in your food processor then you can add them to a variety of dishes without anyone knowing. Add them to smoothies, or even baked dishes such as meat loaf or pasta. Or you can just eat them the old fashioned way, in a salad with some vinaigrette. Dark greens are good sources of antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes, phytonutrients
Beans: I have yet to try this but a great way to sneak beans into your, your hubby/boyfriend/fiance, or your kids’ diet is to puree them and add them to brownies for black bean brownies. Just rinse, drain, and puree a 15 oz can of black beans with 1/4 cup water and use in place of eggs and oil. Beans are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes, phytonutrients
Nuts: almonds and walnuts, which still have their skins in tact, are amongst the best phytonutrient-rich nuts. However, even though nuts are a good source of nutrients such as your “good” fats, they are also a good source of fat overall and calories. Make sure to limit yourself to just 1/3 cup. My newest favorite way to eat nuts are in chocolate chip and dried fruit granola bar bites (there is a link to that recipe below, in the related articles). Nuts are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes, phytonutrients, unsaturated fats
Oats: one of my favorite foods. Chia seeds and oats are probably the two foods I add to everything. Often times, you can add oats to breads or baked goods and not even know they are in there. They just seem to disappear (physically) after being baked. I add oats to just about every bread I make and I can never even tell the oats are there. I also made my cauliflower chocolate cake a few days ago and on a whim added in some oats. Again, couldn’t even tell they were there in the final product. You can also use oat flour to replace up to 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour in recipes (don’t go out and buy oat flour; just throw some oats in your blender or food processor and blend blend blend until they form a flour). Oats can help lower cholesterol as well as curb your appetite. Oats are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, electrolytes, phytonutrients
Olive oil: so the thing about this oil, it has a low smoke point. What does this mean? It means that the oil will burn quicker over heat and so will the nutrients. So if you decide to use olive oil in a hot dish, try your best to add it at the end. Olive oil is a good source of antioxidants, phytonutrients, unsaturated fats
Pure pomegranate juice: pomegranate is a sweet/tart fruit as is its juice. add it to sparkling water for an extra punch of flavor, blend with berries and low fat yogurt for a sweet and tangy smoothie, or even use it as the base for a DIY fruit popsicle. Pomegranates also have three times the antioxidant power of red wine so pour yourself a glass of pomegranate juice next time instead of some wine. Pomegranates are good sources of antioxidants, electrolytes, phytonutrients
- Chocolate chip granola bites (f00dventures.wordpress.com)
- Tutti fruiti banana ice cream (f00dventures.wordpress.com)
- Pineapple-orange (green) smoothie (f00dventures.wordpress.com)
- Antioxidants and free radicals (f00dventures.wordpress.com)