Lets Talk About the Top Ten Nutritional Super Foods
Top Ten Nutritional Super Foods
Do you find yourself planning your weekly meal menus and wondering how healthy your food choices are? Have you ever found yourself standing in a grocery store aisle confused and confounded by all of the choices on the shelves? And, how about those ingredient lists…have you read any of those lately? If you pay any attention at all to the nightly news broadcasts, magazine and newspaper articles and internet feeds, then you can’t help but be aware that every day there is yet another food or ingredient that medical research is connecting to cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease and a host of other major diseases…diseases that can kill you and your family.
Back In the Good Old Days
If you’re like me, you grew up eating pasta (made with semolina flour) dishes, beef and pork four to five nights a week, lots of fried chicken, bacon or ham and eggs with real butter on toast for breakfast (and sometimes for dinner) and all of the cookies, cakes, pies and crackers made with partially hydrogenated oils (shortening) that your mom and granny could feed you. And, if you’re also like me, you’re now wondering what all of that food did to your body over all of those years. Do you want to wonder the same things about your kid’s nutrition and health, both present and future?
Childhood obesity is a topic that could constitute a whole book but we’re not going there today. Today, we’re just going to talk about some basic good healthy food choices that you can make in you and your family’s diets to move them toward better health and hopefully smaller waistlines. Replacing some of the less healthy foods with healthier choices, a few at a time, can really help start to move everyone toward a healthier life.
Low fat or fat free plain yogurt is loaded with probiotics and lots of calcium and other nutrients including protein and potassium and can be a great way to make sure your family gets practically every nutrient needed to be healthy. Don’t like yogurt, then try skim milk. It only has about 83 calories per cup and can be slipped into coffee or cereal as well as many other foods to get the three recommended servings needed per day for good healthy bones and teeth. Dairy foods as a whole are probably the most complete nutritional category of food that your family…kids as well as adults…need throughout their entire lives for good health.
What about those Eggs?
As a child, I consumed thousands of eggs each year. I loved them as fried, sunny side up, scrambled, omelets or hardboiled. Later in life, we started to hear about an ugly term called “cholesterol” and how bad it was for you. Apparently “cholesterol” wasn’t bad enough because then, we began to hear about “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. And the age old family staple, the egg, took a tremendous hit when the medical community began to promote boycotts of the “incredible, edible egg”. They recommended only eating a maximum of two per week…WHAT? I used to eat that many every morning for breakfast! Well, now they’re saying that we should use common sense because now nutritionists are promoting the egg as it is loaded with something like 12 vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. They even have studies that are showing that if you eat eggs for breakfast, you’ll eat fewer calories the rest of the day and lost weight in the process without seriously affecting your cholesterol levels. Way to go, Egg!
It’s all Nuts about Nuts
If you’ve ever been on a calorie counting type of diet, then you know that eating nuts of any type as a snack can carry a hefty calorie price tag. They contain protein and fats and, therefore, constitute a red flag when dieting. While it is quite true that nuts are carriers of fats, the fats are monounsaturated fats (MUFA) which are actually GOOD for your body and your cholesterol levels. Let’s call them “heart-healthy fats”. Add to this the fact that they are high in fiber and lots of antioxidants and you have a great healthy food that can really satisfy a snack urge. The key here is to watch your portion control closely.
There’s more to Beans than Toots
Getting back to some grass roots food, let’s talk a little bit about beans. Small red beans, pinto beans and dark kidney are listed as the best but all beans contain substantial amounts of protein, antioxidants, fiber and other minerals and are low fat. They can be eaten alone or added to many other foods to enhance the flavor, texture and nutritional value. The USDA Food Pyramid recommendation for this food is 3 cups per week. There are some varieties, like edemame (whole soybeans) even boast significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium for your body’ nutritional needs.
Three Cheers for Broccoli…and Spinach
Yeah, I know…these are not particularly favored veggies. In fact, they probably rank right up there near the top for the “yuck” prize. Both of these veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals and excellent sources of vitamin A…a vitamin that has been found to help boast the immune system and help fight some cancers. Vitamin A is also referred to as beta carotene and we generally think of this nutrient in terms of yellow or orange colored veggies but broccoli and spinach are both excellent sources.
How about those Berries!
This is one type of fruit that adding to your family’s diet will generate huge benefits. These little berry “packages” contain large amounts of antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber and water. Their sweetness satisfies the appetite and helps keep blood sugar under control and they do this for a fraction of the caloric count that cookies, candies and other sweet snacks contain. Blueberries and cranberries are listed at the top of the list of recommended berries as they are the best sources of antioxidants and are readily available.
Ah…Let’s Not Forget the Sweet Potato…
Ok, how many of you out there just turned up your noses? Come on…let’s be honest. I used to have serious reservations about this veggie. In fact, I felt that a small tablespoon of the traditional sweet potato dish at Thanksgiving and Christmas was quite a significant gesture on my part. However, I have been researching this yellow-orange veggie and have found sufficient cause to adjust my thinking and eating patterns. It still isn’t a veggie that finds its way into my dinner menu often, not even on a weekly basis, but it is present more frequently than in my past. Why is this you ask? It is loaded with vitamin A and C, calcium and potassium, not to mention the fiber content is definitely worthy of mention. There are some other orange veggies that stand out from the rest, such as: pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash and orange bell peppers. These veggies also contain significant amounts of vitamins A and C, calcium and potassium.
Try the Salmon
Salmon is a fatty fish. But remember above we talked about heart-healthy fats? Well those are the fats…omega-3 fats…that are contained in this cold-water fish. This is a great source of protein, is low in calories, a good source of iron and is low in saturated fats (bad fats). The American Heart Association actually recommends eating this heart-healthy food twice a week. It can be grilled or baked; you can garnish it with sauces and chop it up and put it in a salad. The recommendation for the best salmon with the least amount of mercury potential is wild salmon. If you’re not partial to salmon, try other types of fish, like canned tuna.
Are you too busy to eat your Veggies?
In the fast lane kind of life style that many of us live these days, it can be very difficult to get the six to ten servings of veggies recommended by the USDA worked into your meals. If you suffer from this problem, don’t let your body continue to be deprived of the essential nutrients found in veggies. Veggie juices can help augment the actual veggies you are able to work into your meals. Good veggie juice choices are available on your supermarket shelves and they are packaged in convenient grab and go cans or bottles that make getting an extra serving or two of veggies fit right into your busy, hectic life.
Have you considered Wheat Germ?
Wheat germ is the core or center of the wheat seed and contains considerable amounts of thiamin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. This food can be incorporated into your diet by sprinkling it over yogurt, cereal and in salads. It can be added to muffins, cookies and pancakes. I have even used the toasted variety as part of the filling, along with the bread crumbs, in meatloaf, whether using turkey or beef.
As you can see, adding the top ten nutritional super foods to your family’s diet isn’t hard. And, you don’t have to do it all at once but rather, make little changes one at a time. In time, you will be eating a healthier way and you and your family will be healthier for it. Are you game? Go ahead, make a change today!