Have you ever been to the grocery store with a dietitian? If you have, how you look at the variety of foods available will be forever changed. A colleague of mine commented that one of the best things she ever did, was accompany her friend, a registered dietitian, on her grocery trip. After that, her eyes were opened to the battle and obstacles that American's face every day, when it comes to achieving nutritional balance.
The food products that are the most convenient, or the ones that take the least amount of preparation time, are most expensive. Why? Because our busy lifestyle almost guarantees that fast food is an option for most families, during the hectic work week. But since fast food can be costly, the grocery store is full of pre-packaged, low nutrient, high-fat and sodium alternatives that make you 'think' you are making a healthy choice, by cooking at home.DON'T GET FOOLED BY FOOD MARKETING
If you've spent any time studying what is in your fridge, and available at your local grocery stores, you have already realized that convenience doesn't equate to what is healthy. And don't get me started about deliberately confusing statements on packaging. From the color of labels to the misleading use of the term 'healthy', navigating the aisle of the grocery store is nothing short of a psychological battle between you, and high-profit food manufacturers. The ones that find ways to bend the rules, enchant you with advertising, and sell sub-par food items and convenience meals at a premium; ones that offer little to no nutritional value.
Wouldn't it be nice if the grocery store was organized in a way, that super foods were in one aisle? No distractions, no fancy packaging, just genuine high-quality foods that are actually good for you? The consumer food sector is a marketing machine however, and the best foods (the ones your body can actually use), are high-cost to manufacture. The low profit margin potential on nutritious, organ and vegan options is part of the problem, isn't it? It can cost more, and the food industry would prefer if you bought the 'junk' instead. They make more money that way.
How many superfoods do you think you are incorporating into your diet, on a regular basis, every week? We don't see big flashy marketing campaigns about beets, or flax, and the potential for consumers to really understand the difference between high and low quality nutritional resources is negligible. We buy what we see on television, and superfoods (which have the most potential if sourced regularly) don't make the prime-time coverage.
- Greek Yogurt
When I am tempted to snack, the first thing I reach for is some Greek yogurt, topped with fresh berries. Not only does it taste delicious, but it has the vitamins and nutrients I need to power through. A quality protein source, eating Greek yogurt can help your body improve bone density, muscle and cartilage strength, and it also promotes healthy skin and hair. Depending on the brand you buy, one single serving of Greek yogurt can provide 12 to 17 grams of protein, and it is also packed with helpful probiotics that reduce GI inflammation and it can improve nutrient absorption, and immunity.
There are three types of quinoa available, which include red, black and white varieties. When it comes to the health benefits of this grain (which is almost flavorless and can be incorporated into virtually any meal), I'll let the numbers do the talking.
A 1-cup serving of cooked quinoa provides:
- 8 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fiber
- 58% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for manganese
- 30% RDA of magnesium
- 15% RDA of Iron
- 13% of the recommended daily amount of zinc
- 9% of required daily potassium
- 28% RDA for phosphorus
- 10% of required vitamins B1, B2 and B6
Add quinoa as a side dish, to replace other starchy alternatives. It's filling, satisfying and can be incorporated in stir-fry, soups and other tasty (and healthy) meal ideas.
Catechins (antioxidant) help to activate the fat burning genes that reside in abdominal fat muscles. So, if weight loss is one of your personal wellness goals, find a way to incorporate more raw blueberries into your diet, in salads, smoothies or on their own as a healthy snack. A research study at Tufts University, reported that ingesting raw catechins resulted in improved abdominal fat loss, by 77%.
Blueberries are also brain boosters. They contain a plant nutrient called proanthocyanidins, which help protect brain tissue against environmental toxins. The phyto-nutrient dense berry has also been reported to decrease free radicals linked to premature aging, and may offer additional protection against age-related memory loss and the decline of motor skills for seniors.
- Chia Seeds
When you learn how much health and nutritional benefit there is in a serving of chia seeds, you will want to incorporate them in almost anything you cook, from chili to soups, smoothies and more. They are a high source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and provide fiber, iron and calcium. Omega-3 fatty acids help to raise HDL cholesterol, and protect against heart attack and stroke.
- Green Tea
A powerful antioxidant, green tea is loaded in catechins, which some clinical studies have correlated with improved cellular health, circulation and lower cholesterol. In other studies, green tea has been linked to health benefits for patients with congestive heart failure and heart disease, according to an article published in the Harvard Medical Review.
- Fresh Salmon
Salmon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat (not to mention the fact that it's delicious!). Some dieticians recommend 2-3 servings of fish per week, for nutritional and preventative health management. Salmon provides iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin's B6 and B12, potassium and selenium.
- Raw Ginger
If you love sushi, you've seen ginger added as a garnish. While spicy, raw ginger is an incredible super food that has been known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries, as a powerful and natural anti-inflammatory. Ginger can also be consumed as a tea, and may help with conditions of nausea, indigestion and pain management.
Start a new trend by educating yourself on the best and highest quality food sources, that promote improved immunity, weight management, and overall personal health. My choices for the top seven superfoods are based on nutritional value, but may not be suitable for every individual. Remember to ask your physician before making any radical dietary or supplement changes