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Superfoods for 2012 (pt.1)

    Hey everybody, hope you're all enjoying a beautiful Thursday today!  In my never ending search to identify healthier options for all of us I have discovered some superfoods we should all be trying to incorporate onto our plates and into our diets.  What I'd really like to accomplish by providing this information is to make eating clean easier and tastier by adding a variety of new proteins, carbs, and healthy fats to your meal plan. The foods below are packed with disease-fighting nutrients and unique flavors from around the world. Add one or two of these foods to your shopping cart each time you hit the market to make 2012 your healthiest year ever!  Since it's a fairly long list, this will be the first installment of 2.  Keep an eye out for the follow-up.  As is always the case, reach out to me with questions or feel free to post responses here to help stimulate dialogue about what we're all trying to accomplish, improved health and wellness!  Let's get started:

1. Adzuki Beans
An East Asian staple for centuries, adzuki beans are an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron, vitamin B, magnesium, copper, zinc and potassium. This nutty bean is naturally fat- and cholesterol-free. Use it in soups, mixed with rice, or as a healthy salad topping.


2. Buffalo
A leaner alternative to beef, a three ounce serving of buffalo meat has only 1 g of saturated fat. It also provides similar amounts of protein, vitamins, and nutrients to beef. Try substituting buffalo for beef in burgers, meatballs, spaghetti sauce, and tacos. Choose grass-fed buffalo, if available.

3. Chia Seeds
These tiny black seeds, cultivated by the Aztecs during pre-Colombian times, are slowly working their way into American markets. Similar to flax, chia seeds are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, fiber, phosphorous, and manganese. Sprinkle them on cereal, oatmeal, or salad for some crunch.
**(Fruition bars are a great way to incorporate Chia Seeds into your snacks & diet!)**

4. Lentils
Lentils are a fiber powerhouse and an excellent source of iron, zinc, and other nutrients. They're a great choice for vegetarians to get their protein needs. Lentils have been shown to reduce heart disease risk and help control blood sugar. Add lentils to soups, curries, or salads.

5. Sardines
Found frequently in Mediterranean cuisine, these small fish are an excellent source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D, plus they're low in mercury. A single sardine has as much omega-3 fatty acid as some supplements. Mix sardines into pasta sauce or eat them whole on toast.

6. Kefir
One of the hottest products in grocery stores, kefir is a creamy, fermented milk product. With twice as much good bacteria as yogurt, kefir is excellent for digestive health and high in calcium, protein, and vitamin D and A. Eat it for dessert or use it for a smoothie base.

7. Collard Greens
This Southern staple is one of the healthiest greens available. Collard greens are loaded with fiber, protein, calcium, and other nutrients. These leafy greens are associated with improved digestion and heart health, cancer prevention, and lower cholesterol. Serve this nutritional powerhouse as a side dish for your favorite protein.

8. Farro
Farro is a nutty, chewy grain used in Italian cooking. Farro is packed with fiber, protein, zinc, and magnesium. Compounds in farro have been linked to increased immunity, lower cholesterol, and balanced blood sugar levels. Mix it into soups or use it as a healthy side dish.

9. Artichokes
Featured in everything from stews to pasta sauces, artichokes are a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. A half cup of artichokes is packed with 7 g of dietary fiber and more than 10 percent the daily recommended value of vitamin C and K and folate. Artichokes are also one of the most antioxidant-packed veggies available. Use them in salads, on pizzas, or stuff them.

10. Kiwis
Two of these fuzzy berries provide more potassium than a banana and more than twice the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Kiwi fruit is naturally fat- and cholesterol-free and a rich source of vitamin K and fiber. Eat a raw kiwi as a snack or slice it into yogurt.

11. Walnuts
Walnuts have more antioxidants than almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and many other members of the nut family. They're also high in healthy fats and one of the few omega-3-rich food sources for vegetarians. Sprinkle walnuts into your favorite recipe or eat them raw for a healthy snack.

12. Oysters
Oysters are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Six oysters have just 50 calories and provide 227 percent of daily vitamin B12 needs, 212 percent of daily zinc requirements, and a third of the recommended daily intake of iron. Eat them as an appetizer or mix them in with your favorite pasta.

13. Ginger
A pungent, flavorful root, ginger is a natural anti-emetic used to alleviate motion and morning sickness. It's packed with anti-inflammatory compounds linked to increased immunity and a decreased risk of colorectal cancer and joint pain. Mix ginger into a stir-fry or steep a couple of slices in hot water for ginger tea.


Remember everybody, this is just half the list I've compiled.  Please keep an eye out for Superfoods for 2012 (pt.2), coming soon!



REFERENCES
  • Core Performance - Nutrition, Edwina Clark February 2012

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