My Top 5 Food Powerhouses

Generally speaking, I eat pretty well. I could add more variety to my diet (sometimes I get stuck in food ruts) and there are certainly times I eat things that aren’t on the up and up, but for the most part, I do OK. Here are five foods I already eat that are nutritional powerhouses:

1. Apples

We always have these guys in our office, so they make the perfect afternoon snack (especially after a run with a little bit of peanut butter on them!) I also love to bake them with a bit of cinnamon, or put them in my oatmeal. Not only are these tasty beauties low in calories (about 95, depending on the size) but they also contain a ton of soluble fiber (about 4 grams). This means that it fills you up better since it takes your body longer to digest it. Likewise, though it has naturally-occurring sugars, it does not cause that sugar “high” that leaves your blood sugar low and your stomach growling soon after eating.

2. Oatmeal

Though Dan and I could certainly do a better job incorporating a wider variety of foods into our breakfast routine (we often get stuck on eggs or oatmeal because they are quick, easy and cost-effective), oatmeal is definitely a good habit to form. Whether it’s hot with a bit of honey or chock full of fruit (it’s amazing how quickly frozen fruit defrosts in a bowl of hot oats!), this is a filling and satisfying breakfast. In the summer months, hot temperatures make it a bit less appealing, so I adjust by making Overnight Oats in a Jar, usually with protein powder, Greek Yogurt and Chia Seeds. In addition to being delicious, oatmeal lowers cholesterol levels (due to a special strand of fiber it contains) and boosts your immune system via the same fiber. Oatmeal also contains relatively high levels of antioxidants and magnesium to ward off Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.

3. Beets

Sometimes we turn ’em into burgers, sometimes we just throw a bunch on the grill. Any way they’re cooked/served, we LOVE beets in our house, and eat them as frequently as possible. This is great news for us, considering the long list of nutritional benefits they pack in: Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. They are an example of low-calorie, natural sources of sugar that keeps you full longer than most other forms, even though they are the second largest source of sugar!  They are great sources of energy for the body and have been found in various studies to ward off different kinds of cancer. Canned or fresh, they are hard to beet! (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)

4. Garlic

We put it in pretty much everything. It may make us smell funny, but luckily, the health benefits outweigh the odor. Recent studies have shown that the herb increases blood flow by boosting our levels of  hydrogen sulfide. This has been linked to protection against various types of cancers and cardiovascular damage. According to this New York Times article, the best way to optimize the benefits of garlic are to: ” crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. That triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.” Something to keep in mind for the future.

5. Salmon

While we clearly don’t consume salmon on a daily basis, it is one of our favorite things to throw on the grill, bake in the oven or buy in a can (though I find it to be awfully hard to find!) With good reason – Salmon contains lots of fat – the good kind! Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce inflammation correlating with coronary disease and arthritis. It’s also a wonderful (and fairly low calorie) source of protein, particularly for people who don’t eat red meat or pork. It’s lower in mercury than  a fish like tuna, which means it can be consumed more frequently without worry. Additionally, salmon contains plenty of Vitamin D, B2 and B12, which mean healthier skin, teeth and bones. Previous meals of ours containing this fish can be found here, here and here.

Research for this post came from the links below:

Huffington Post
My Food Diary
Natural Home and Garden
Yahoo!
New York Times
Livestrong

 

What nutritional powerhouses do you love to eat? 

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