This month, certified nutrition counselor, New York Times bestselling author and Diet.com contributor Leanne Ely writes about her favorite super-nutritious foods.
There are foods that are healthy and then there are foods that are powerhouses. Here are 10 supersonic foods that you absolutely should include in your diet if you want to lose weight, get as healthy as you can and look your best.
The all-powerful tomato can do all kinds of things. It's rich in lycopene, an important nutrient that may lower your risk for all kinds of cancer, prostate included. Plus, it packs serious Vitamin C.
Dark leafy veggies are rich in vitamins such as K, C, E and B and minerals including iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. They also pack omega-3 fats and beta-carotene. And they're practically carb-free! I love braised greens (steam until bright green, then sauté in olive oil and garlic, cover, turn off the heat and let finish cooking through). Any kind of green will do, from Swiss chard to kale to collard greens. They're all delicious.
I'm a huge fan of nuts, especially raw almonds (and walnuts, too). They can significantly reduce blood cholesterol in just four weeks, but are high in calories, so keep portion control in mind. I place 10 of them in a ramekin and munch on them at my desk. (It's too easy to eat too many, so I measure my servings.) I take my time and they seem to last. I also carry little Ziploc bags of almonds in my purse for an emergency snack.
The lowly onion seems to find its way into almost everything you make, especially come dinnertime. Eating onions is a cheap way to get your flavonoids, important nutrients that help protect your lungs from cancer and your stomach from ulcers. Plus, they help prevent heart disease and raise the "good" cholesterol in your blood.
I absolutely adore grilled salmon, but it has to be the wild variety if you want the benefit of the omega-3 fatty acids (farm-raised salmon doesn't cut it). Heat up the barby, throw on the frozen salmon — skin side down — sprinkle some seasoning (generously, I might add) and that's it! Easy and absolutely delicious, no planning necessary.
6. Frozen berries
I make smoothies from frozen berries every morning. I use wild blueberries and a mix of blackberries and raspberries. Blueberries are especially healthy: two-thirds a cup packs more antioxidants than five servings of broccoli.
7. Kefir and yogurt
Kefir is like liquid yogurt. It's chock full of probiotics and helps your body balance in the gut. Remember those stories of people living to be 120 years old in Russia? Yogurt and kefir were what they credited their longevity to. Use kefir in smoothies, and eat yogurt with a splash of vanilla and a squeeze of honey.
Fiber-rich oats help your body stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. A perfect breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with about a half cup of frozen blueberries. Fiber is critical for important bodily functions, if you know what I mean, and oatmeal is a great way to get it.
9. Dark chocolate
Hallelujah! Dark chocolate is rich in catechins and flavonoids, giving you a big dose of antioxidants and helping to boost your good cholesterol. An ounce a day is a more than adequate serving, and it needs to be dark — the darker the better.
While we may no longer suffer from scurvy, a lot of us have marginal levels of vitamin C in our blood, and some of us have a deficit. When you consider the fact that oranges, in their flavonoid richness, have the ability to fend off cancer and cardiovascular disease and protect one's DNA, it's amazing that most of us aren't chugging a glass of OJ each morning! Get the pulp-rich variety for an extra boost of Vitamin C.