The hit book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden is a great resource, because it highlights the health benefits of many everyday foods. This is not a book that sends you off in search of unusual and hard to find stuff — it lists basic, readily available items. Eating healthy is a challenge for busy people, so here’s a list of 12 “superfoods” to keep in mind when preparing meals and snacks.
- Beans: They’re small in size, but big on fiber and iron. Darker-colored beans, such as black and kidney, have an even higher concentration of healthy stuff.
- Apricots:The oft-forgotten apricot is great source of Vitamin A and other nutrients. Dried apricots are even more nutritious, and portable, than fresh ones. Prunes — hey, don’t laugh — are also terrific.
- Berries: Blueberries in particular, but also cranberries, raspberries and blackberries are highly recommended for healthy aging. Said to help maintain short-term memory, blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants.
- Broccoli: It’s not hard to eat broccoli if you sauté it in a bit of olive oil and garlic. Deep-green vegetables like collard greens, kale and asparagus have abundant nutrients. Bok choy (Chinese cabbage) is also packed with nutrients that are said to guard against certain cancers.
- Cacao: Didn’t expect to see chocolate on a super food list, right? Well, buying organic chocolate (found in most health food stores) with high levels of cacao can do a body good. It may not be the tastiest thing to eat straight, but mix a bit of 100 per cent organic cacao powder into a morning smoothie or coffee, or buy chocolate bars that are at least 75 per cent cacao. Note: Snickers bars are not a healthy substitute.
- Peanut Butter: The food that kids love is, in fact, healthy for you. Nuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight heart disease. Almonds, in particular, are known for lowering cholesterol.
- Turkey: Thanksgiving and Christmas are long gone, but it’s always a good time to make lean, protein-rich turkey. You can cook a small breast with a side of cranberries, or substitute ground turkey in recipes that call for ground beef. Unfortunately, turkey lunch meat doesn’t make the cut, because it’s typically high in sodium.
- Cinnamon: Believe it or not, this spice is considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the world. And, no, it doesn’t count if it’s glued to the top of a sticky bun! Simply dust it on your oatmeal, your morning coffee, or even on a piece of fruit. Studies suggest that it can lower cholesterol and help control blood sugar (diabetics take note!).
– Update: Kim and Gary (see comments below) have brought to our attention that the American Diabetes Association posted a study just last month saying that cinnamon DOES NOT have any effect on your blood sugar levels. Thanks, Kim and Gary!
- Pomegranate juice: This antioxidant-rich juice has been shown to help fight heart disease and lower cholesterol. Drink a small cup of pom juice daily, diluted with water if you find the taste too strong. You can also buy blends that contain apple or blueberry juice.
- Yogurt: Smoothie lovers, take a bow! You’re ahead of the game if you’re eating non-fat yogurt, because it’s good for intestinal health. Mix the plain stuff with some of the items on this list, including nuts, cinnamon or berries and you’re doubling up on healthy ingredients.
- Oats: Whole-grain goodies, such as oat bran breakfast cereal (like Cheerios), oatmeal and whole grain breads are on the list because they help lower your cholesterol and increase fiber intake.
- Avocado: Go ahead and whip up some avocado salsa, a great side dish. Guacamole is also good for you. Avocados are high-calorie, so you don’t want to go crazy eating them, but they are said to improve blood flow, which increases brain activity.
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Kim DiPietro said:
Great piece on the 12 superfoods, I actually learned some ne w ones in reading it. I just wanted to let you know that Cinnamon has now been found to NOT effect your blood sugar or to help diabetics in any way. I am a diabetic and was taking cinnamon capsules and putting more into my coffee and tea, so I was a bit bummed. I just thought you would want to know.