There is no questioning that fruits and vegetables are great for you, but do you ever wonder what makes them healthful and which ones are the best to eat? Even though you know they should be part of a healthy diet, are you stumped on how to cook them? Keep reading, because we have the answers for you!
Superfoods are a group of whole foods, primarily fruits and vegetables, which have significant health benefits because of their super nutrient content. They are foods with a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other health-boosting traits. Superfoods are known to help lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, ward off cancer, fight the effects of aging, boost your strength and energy, and even put you in a better mood. Best yet, they’re readily available in your local grocery store and are foods that you may already eat.
Incorporating superfoods into your daily diet is a delicious and easy way to stay healthy without taking pills and suffering any side effects. To maintain a balanced, healthy diet, a variety of foods—fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, even sugars—need to be eaten to obtain all the nutrients your body needs to function. Eating a colorful and varied array of foods will better supply your diet with balanced nutrition than eating individual foods or single food groups.
To optimize your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals, include superfoods in all of your meals. To get you started, try these five super nutritious foods in the accompanying recipes. There are at least 20 other superfoods just waiting to enhance your diet, visit www.superfoods.com for a complete list and more delicious ways to eat them.
Apples: Ben Franklin was right when he said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are high in polyphenols (a class of antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial), fiber, (prevents weight gain and helps with weight loss, lowers the risk of colon cancer, type II diabetes, and heart disease), vitamin C (the cold-fighting vitamin), and potassium (helps lower blood pressure, risk of stroke, and can increase bone density).
Avocados: Although avocados are high in fat, the fat is monounsaturated, which is the best fat to eat. Avocados are high in fiber, magnesium (reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and helps promote low blood pressure), folate (lowers risk of colon cancer and cardiovascular disease and is essential for pregnant women), vitamin E (anti-inflammatory, boosts immune function, reduces risk of heart attack and cataracts), and lutein (boosts immune function, prevents cataracts). Avocados are also effective for weight-loss and maintenance because they increase your feeling of fullness.
Dark Chocolate: Yes, chocolate is a superfood, but not the sugary kind you find up the candy aisle. Dark chocolate is very high in polyphenols. Dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, and promotes healthy blood flow. Remember, chocolate is still high in fat and calories, so keep your intake to about 100 calories a day and only eat dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids (check the label).
Honey: Fighting a pesky winter cough? Try a spoonful of honey instead of cough syrup. Honey is a natural sweetener and an excellent source of polyphenols and antioxidants. Put some in your morning coffee or tea instead of sugar – honey is much sweeter than sugar, so you will not need as much.
Tart Cherries or Sour Cherries: Cherries are one of the fruits with the highest level of antioxidants. They are chock full of anthocyanins, which also give cherries that vibrant red color. Cherries are associated with the prevention of heart disease and cancer and, as a bonus, can boost your mood and keep your brain sharp all day. They are the perfect mid-day snack when that tired feeling creeps on. For all you athletes out there, cherry juice is a great sports drink that can help sooth muscle pain after exercise. And for all of you globe trotters, dried tart cherries can help fight jet lag because of its effect on melatonin, the hormone that influences your body clock.
Baked Apple Delight
Recipe courtesy of SuperFoodsRx
Makes 1 serving
1 medium apple, washed and cored
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and core the apple. Put the apple in an oven-safe dish and drizzle the honey, chopped walnuts, and dust the cinnamon over the apple. Bake for about 30 minutes or until apple is tender. Serve warm or cold.
Avocado Eggs Benedict
Recipe courtesy of Avocado Central
Makes 2 servings
2 English muffins
4 slices Canadian bacon or ham, fried
4 eggs, poached
2 Hass avocados
2 cups prepared Hollandaise sauce
Toast English muffin halves. Lay 1 slice of bacon on each side of the muffin, top with an egg, and a few slices of avocado. Spoon Hollandaise sauce over each side. Serve warm.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Makes 12 to 16 servings
4 ounces fine-quality dark chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and coat an 8-inch round baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of pan with a same-size circle of wax paper and spray paper with cooking spray. Cut chocolate into small pieces and place in a double boiler (or metal bowl set over a saucepan of water) over medium heat. Add butter and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove chocolate from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until top forms a thin crust. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Dust with extra cocoa powder.
Broiled Lemon-Honey Chicken
Recipe courtesy of The National Honey Board
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 (4-ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice, oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place chicken in a medium-sized shallow baking dish and cover with marinade, flipping breasts to coat. Marinate chicken for 1 hour. When ready to cook, preheat broiler. Broil chicken for 5 minutes. Flip chicken and brush with pan drippings. Broil 10 minutes longer or
until juices run clear. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and spoon with pan drippings.
Cherry Trail Mix
Recipe courtesy of the Cherry Marketing Institute
1/4 cup low-fat granola cereal
1/4 cup whole wheat cereal
1/4 cup mini whole wheat pretzels
1/4 cup whole dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons toasted almond slivers
1 tablespoon chopped cashews or pecans
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.
Points and Prizes Keyword: COLORFUL worth 50 points good through 02/17/08.
For more information, tips, and recipe ideas visit:
The National Honey Board
Cherry Marketing Institute
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