According the the U.S. Government's dietary guidelines, Americans are eating too many processed foods and are not getting the nutrients they need. One way to reach your nutritional goals is by incorporating "superfoods" into your diet. Superfoods contain disease-fighting nutrients and are rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants and/or fiber. Many superfoods also help regulate blood sugar levels, which slows aging and prevents diabetes, obesity and a variety of other diseases.
Nuts are a superfood because they are full of healthy fats and protein and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Experts recommend keeping nut portions small -- about an ounce a day. When eaten in small amounts, nuts can promote weight loss and can help lower cholesterol levels. They are also a healthy replacement for salty snacks. Instead of potato chips, reach for a handful of almonds, peanuts, walnuts or pecans. Sprinkle nuts on salads and cereals for added flavor.
Beans claim superfood status because they contain large amounts of fiber, along with protein, magnesium and potassium. The insoluble fiber in beans helps lower cholesterol, and their soluble fiber helps rid your body of waste and makes you feel full, a great benefit for weight watchers. Many beans, like whole soybeans, contain the omega-3 fatty acids proven to aid in heart health. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 3 cups of beans each week. Try them as a main dish in chili or soups, or toss into salads for added nutrition.
While all leafy green vegetables are beneficial, broccoli is one of the richest sources of fiber; vitamin A; vitamin C; and vitamin K, a bone strengthener. Best of all, broccoli is available year-round. Eat broccoli raw, steamed, stir-fried or grilled as a healthy side dish or as an ingredient in egg dishes and soups.
Berries are a perfect nutritional replacement for sugary snacks. They are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients, and their high water and fiber content makes them a filling low-calorie option for people watching their waistlines. Blueberries lead the pack antioxidant content. Eat a handful of fresh berries as a snack each day, or sprinkle them on salads or low-fat yogurt for add flavor and nutrition.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon twice weekly because it is high in the omega-3 fatty acids that keep your heart healthy. Salmon is also a rich source of protein and iron and is low in saturated fat. Grill or bake salmon and eat with a squirt of lemon or a low-fat topping like salsa.
- Photo Credit nuts image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from Fotolia.com Soy beans on green leaf image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com broccoli image by Witold Krasowski from Fotolia.com blueberries image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com fresh salmon fillet image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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