Top 12 SUPER Foods: Super Easy, Super Nutritious, Super Transportable and Super Kid and Adult Friendly
We love lists! Super foods, cancer fighting foods, nutrient dense foods, and anti-inflammatory foods. It is fun to read why certain foods are so good for us. A more simple approach to a super, nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, phytochemical and antioxidant rich healthy diet is to choose a variety of colorful foods from the earth that you prefer and enjoy, and make half your plate veggies.
1. Leafy greens:
Always have leafy greens in your fridge. It is the number one food you can eat to improve your health. Most are rich in vitamins A, C, and K and folate, calcium and fiber. Buy the large organic tubs from the grocery store and they will not go to waste. Make spinach, kale or arugula salads. Sauté in olive oil and garlic for a hot veggie. Add some as a sandwich topper, throw some in a soup, add a handful to your favorite fruit smoothie or bake kale for kale chips.
Packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. They are anti-inflammatory and inflammation is a key driver of all chronic disease. Choose any berry and you are choosing wisely. Choose blueberries for the most powerful punch. Kids love berries. Add them to smoothies or carry cleaned and in tupperware for a quick and healthy snack.
3. Bananas and apples:
Bananas get a bad rap. Known by dieters as a high glycemic food, they ban bananas from their diet. It is not the banana that is making us gain weight. They may taste like creamy ice cream when sliced and frozen (then slightly thawed just before eating), but are actually a healthy real food option rich in potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Easily transportable, they are a healthy option for you on the go instead of a processed and packaged breakfast/granola bar! They taste great with peanut butter and in fruit smoothies. Apples are another winner and on the go food. There are more nutrients, fiber and phytochemicals in an apple than you will find in anything made in a factory. Make these your grab and go choices.
4. Sweet potatoes:
High in fiber, rich in potassium and vitamins A and C. This is a quick and easy snack or side dish and a healthier option than a white potato, including a lower glycemic index. Bake, or if you are crunched for time, poke with a fork and microwave 2-5 minutes. Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and if you like, a little brown sugar.
Scientists use the egg as a “reference” protein. This means it is used as a standard for measuring protein quality in other foods, because it is a complete and excellent source of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of your body, control hormones and are necessary for growth and sustainability. Have eggs for breakfast and feel satisfied all morning, pack a boiled egg (keep chilled) for a healthy snack, or have breakfast for dinner! Make a Fritatta or don’t forget your kids favorites; french toast or homemade pancakes for healthy options. Choose eggs with added DHA for omega-3 bonus. We like Egg-land’s Best eggs, based on the added DHA and the price. One large egg has 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories and 4 grams of fat. Unless you have high cholesterol or are a vegetarian, eggs are a great addition to any healthy diet.
6. Nuts and seeds:
A handful of nuts or seeds provides protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, and is a satisfying snack. Walnuts and almonds top the nutritional list although I have not met many kids that enjoy walnuts. Enjoy them all; they all come with benefits; pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. Buy in bulk, and make your own snack size portions for transport. Nut butters are a great option too. Check the ingredients and choose those with only the nut, and nothing other than salt; no palm oil or hydrogenated oil. Try some roasted or pan toasted nuts or seeds and tossed in salads.
This is one canned food, out of only a handful, that I will support. Why? It makes eating salmon easy and convenient. Salmon’s omega-3 fatty acid content has it on every super foods list. Omega 3’s are attributed to lowering heart disease, helping arthritis and preventing Alzheimer's, although your entire diet contributes to disease prevention and not only one food. It is a rich source of protein (3 oz. has 7 grams) and vitamin D. Fish, in general has sustained the test of time, known as a “brain food” for as far back as I can remember. You can add salmon to leafy greens and have the heart healthiest salad in minutes, or easily make salmon cakes. Keep frozen filets in your freezer for quick and easy grilling, pan sautéing or baking.
8. Whole Wheat Bread:
Bread, like bananas get a bad rap. Why did we add it to this list? Because, a homemade sandwich with a side salad or any vegetable is a fast and healthier option than ordering a pizza or stopping for fast food. Toast and sandwiches are easy and transportable. 100% whole wheat is the label you are looking for. Bakery bread options are sometimes a better choice than the bread aisle breads; considering the number of ingredients store bought bread is made of. The ingredients list on breads does concern me. Sprouted grain breads are a great flourless option with a lower glycemic index. If you are looking for a flourless option and a lower glycemic index, we like Ezekiel Bread.
Choose low-fat yogurts sweetened with nothing other than fruit. That means no artificial sweeteners or added sugar. Read the ingredients panel and not the food label. This is a calcium and protein rich snack and easily transportable. We like Chobani because it tastes good and it is a healthy choice. One 6 oz. Chobani yogurt has 14 grams of protein. Add fresh fruit for an added nutritional punch.
10. Beans and Peas:
Both a protein and a vegetable, low in fat, full of fiber for a filling, nutritious, inexpensive, easy to prepare and satisfying meal, side or snack. A bag of dried beans costs about $1.00. Soak beans overnight or use quick soak method. Make homemade hummus out of garbanzo beans for a healthy snack all week long. A good habit is to make a pot of beans every week for a healthy and economical go to food.
11. Cherry Tomatoes:
There is nothing better to see your child walk by the fruit and veggie bowl and pop a few of these in his mouth. Rich in lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin C, tomatoes make both superfood and cancer fighting food lists.
Baby carrots rock. This colorful veggie is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene. Although, carrots are on the high glycemic food list due to the sugar content, consider the fine print beyond beta-carotene making the high glycemic argument in this food case seem illogical; the carrot is also a source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. All of that! Carrots are great dippers for hummus or nearly any dip for that matter, and easily transportable.
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Disclosure: Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any diet or exercise program and ask whether you are healthy enough to engage in a diet and exercise program. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider concerning your overall health and wellness, including your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. It is your choice to follow the suggestions, opinions and advice given by a Health Inspires wellness coach.