Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Quick Guide to 7 Super Foods

Healthy eating and lifestyle trends are constantly making the news, providing an ever-increasing list of “super foods” claiming to be important to health. With so many new studies promoting different foods and supplements on a daily basis, it can be difficult to know which offer potentially beneficial properties. This list of seven super foods may help shed light on the uses of a few of these possibly powerful dietary items. It's important to note that moderation is key when it comes to many foods. Before making significant changes to your diet, consider consulting with a physician or dietitian.

Açai berries (pronounced “ah-SIGH-ee”) – Açai berries are small purple berries purported to aid in weight loss and anti-aging. Açai berries contain high levels of antioxidants, which may help to fight cancer and heart disease. The berries also contain oleic acid, a heart-healthy fat that is also found in olive oil. Consume açai berries in smoothies, juices or as part of a dried fruit trail mix.

Cacao powder (pronounced “cah-cow”) – Cacao powder contains flavonoids, which may lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. It is important to source a product that has not been processed, because once processed, cacao powder loses up to 90 percent of its antioxidants. Add cacao powder to smoothies or baking recipes.

Chia seeds (pronounced “chee-ah”) – Chia seeds are nutrient-rich and known for their high omega-3 fatty acid, fiber and calcium levels. They produce a crunch when chewed, have a nutty flavor and can be easily added to oatmeal, smoothies, salads or a glass of water with a lemon wedge.

Goji berries (pronounced “go-gee”) – Goji berries contain high amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants. Though science has not yet backed the claims, Chinese herbalists say that these berries help with vision problems, poor circulation and boosting the immune system. Eat dried goji berries as a snack or add them to smoothies and juices.

Hemp seeds (pronounced “heh-mp”) – Hemp seeds are high in protein and contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs for growth and repair. They are also high in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and are a good source of magnesium and potassium. Also of note, they contain no trace of the psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana, so there is no need to worry. Add hemp seeds to smoothies, granola, baking, juices and more.

Kale (pronounced “kay-el”) – Kale leaves contain phytonutrients that are said to help lessen the occurrence of a variety of cancers including breast and ovarian. Add kale leaves to salads, juices, smoothies and sandwiches, or bake them to create kale chips.

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) – Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein and fiber and a natural source of iron, zinc, vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients contribute to claims that consuming quinoa helps with weight control and lowering your risk for heart disease and diabetes. It can be eaten like rice as a side dish with a meal, mixed with vegetables and proteins to create a main dish, or baked in a variety of ways.

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