Superfoods to the rescue
Add these 10 superfoods to your fridge and pantry for a boost of nutrition and wellness.
What takes a food from great to super? They’re packed with the essential vitamins and minerals that make us tick, and they have properties that go above and beyond in reducing disease risk and maintaining healthy bodies, even increasing longevity. In other words, eat up!
1. Black beans
Fiber-rich beans have been shown to help lower cholesterol and, thanks to their high potassium content, support heart health. Eat them as is or puree and mix into other foods. They’re worth tooting about!
This cousin of ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that are being studied for their potential to fight cancer, lower cholesterol, alleviate arthritis pain and maybe even reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Use caution with supplements, because they can interfere with some medications.
This summertime quencher is low in calories (just 45 per cup) and contains lycopene, a powerful phytochemical that may lower risk of heart disease and some cancers.
These sweet, earthy root vegetables are rich in natural nitrates, which our bodies convert into nitric acid. This, in turn, increases blood flow to our muscles. Beets also support the body’s efforts to detoxify.
Celery is a great source of vitamin K, B vitamins,fiber and potassium. More impressively, it contains apigenin, which lab tests have shown to inhibit cancer growth.
Tart, juicy pomegranate, a staple of Persian and Mediterranean cuisines, is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers are studying whether it could help lower risk for prostate cancer and heart disease.
The herb garden is home to powerhouses of nutrients and good-for-us compounds. Add them in small amounts to meat, fish, poultry and vegetables.
Oranges may get all the glory, but don’t overlook lemons as a good source of vitamin C. Lemons are low in calories and natural fruit sugar. Try adding lemon juice to water to help reduce the risk of kidney stones, stay hydrated and aid digestion.
A recent study of 55,000 people in Denmark showed chocolate may help reduce the risk of an irregular heartbeat. Another reason to satisfy your craving: Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium, which most Americans don’t get enough of.
10. Brazil nuts
Just two Brazil nuts supply the full amount of our daily need for selenium, a nutrient that’s key to the health of the immune system and thyroid.
Let’s get cooking
Registered dietician nutritionist Liz Weinandy ’97, ’06 MPH offered these recipes as great ways to use two of her favorite superfoods: watermelon and herbs. After whipping them up and having a nosh, we agree!
- 5 cups seedless watermelon, large dice
- 1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced in half-moons
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, torn
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toss all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Serve immediately.
- 1 bunch parsley, leaves and stems, chopped rough
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor, whirl parsley, garlic, walnuts and parmesan with enough olive oil to make a thick paste. Taste and adjust seasoning. Toss a tablespoon or so with some pasta or mix with brown rice. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze in an ice-cube tray for a few months.
About the author
Liz Weinandy ’97, ’06 MPH is a registered dietitian nutritionist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She has 20 years’ experience helping clients with weight management, diabetes, heart disease and kidney stones. She enjoys making her kids eat their vegetables.