How far has your healthy eating resolution slid since the beginning of the year? If you're like most people, bad habits settled back by the end of January. But don't despair -- instead of throwing away your goal to eat healthier in 2007, it is far wiser and healthier to try to include "superfoods" into your daily regime, foods that are filled with nature's goodness and include a variety of minerals, vitamins, essential fats, fibre and lean protein that can help to prevent the onset of future illness or disease. While there are many superfoods that should be in your grocery cart this year, the following list highlights what I believe to be some of the best:
1. Whole grain bread
What's this, you ask? Bread is back in? In truth, bread was never out. Although many dieters dropped all grains à la Atkins in search of a skinnier waistline, the truth is that not all breads are created equally. When searching for healthier bread that will keep you thin and trim, keep energy up and optimize digestion, the key is to go for those that are made from whole grains.
In order to ensure you're selecting the right type of bread, check the amount of fibre per slice. As a general guideline, one slice of bread should contain a minimum of two grams of fibre. It is also important to become a label reader and check the ingredient list. If a loaf of bread lists "whole wheat or whole grain flour" as the first ingredient, it is far superior to one that lists "enriched flour."
2. Wild salmon
Coldwater fish such as salmon and tuna are loaded with omega-3 essential fats, which are important for proper brain function and healthy skin and nails. Unfortunately, research has shown farmed salmon to be significantly higher in dioxins and PCBs, chemicals believed to increase the risk of certain cancers. Instead of giving up fish completely, try options that have lower levels of both chemicals, such as wild Atlantic salmon.
3. Green food
Green foods offer an abundant amount of phytochemicals -- plant chemicals that protect against a variety of disease processes. For this reason, it is hard to single out just one green food -- and you shouldn't. Broccoli, spinach and kale are all nutritional superstars that are loaded with fibre, calcium and vitamin E.
Although the price can be a bit high during the winter months, having half a handful of blueberries every day is definitely worth the investment. As the number one antioxidant food around, blueberries have been shown to be beneficial for the eyes, for the heart and for proper elimination. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, a potent vitamin to help keep your immune system strong during the winter months. Remember that frozen blueberries are just as good as -- or even better than -- fresh ones that are out of season.
Avocados may be fatty, but they're made up primarily of monounsaturated fat, meaning they're actually very good for you. In addition to heart-healthy fats, avocados are also a good source of vitamin K, dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Spread onto a wrap, sliced into a sandwich or mashed as a creamy guacamole dip, avocados are a fantastic food to include in your diet.
Although the above list focuses on five superfoods, nature offers us hundreds of foods that are filled with goodness. Other nutritional superstars that top the charts for their health benefits include tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, beans, pomegranates, berries, yogurt and egg whites. When shopping for superfoods, a good rule of thumb is to stick to the exterior of your grocery store where all the fresh, live food is found.
This year, include superfoods into your daily diet and make 2007 the healthiest year yet!
Dr. Joey is the author of bestselling book The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2005). For more information, please visit www.drjoey.com.