Did you know that adding superfoods to your daily diet can help you lose weight as well as improve your overall health? What are superfoods, you might ask? They are specific foods loaded with minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients (plant chemicals that fight disease), fibre and antioxidants.
Here are the top must-have superfoods.
Although avocados are high in fat, the majority of fat is heart-healthy oleic acid or monounsaturated fat. These tasty fruits are also sodium and cholesterol free and have proved to be beneficial for high cholesterol levels. Avocados are great sliced on top of salads or spread on a sandwich - a great substitute for mayo. Avocados ripen in about five to seven days at room temperature. If you need to ripen an avocado, place it in a paper bag where the fruit's production of ethylene will speed up the ripening process.
Cinnamon has a long history of medicinal use. In the Ayurvedic medical tradition, cinnamon was used to treat diabetes. Recent investigation has supported this finding and has demonstrated that extracts of cinnamon increase insulin activity, which leads to better blood sugar regulation. Try using cinnamon for breakfast by mixing some into your oatmeal or pancake batter.
Edamame is the immature green form of edible soybeans. It differs from field soybeans, which are used for tofu and soybean oil, by its large seeds, milder taste and tender texture. This tasty bean is a common health food snack as it's high in fibre and offers a complete source of protein. Fresh edamame can be found in Asian and specialty stores but is also available frozen, both in and out of the pods, in many grocery and health food stores.
Quinoa is a seed that's similar to a grain. It has a tasty, nutty flavour and creamy texture. Used like rice, quinoa is gluten-free, easy to digest and one of the least allergenic "grains". It also offers a high protein content (about twice that of rice) and contains all eight essential amino acids making it a complete protein.
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5. Wild salmon
Wild salmon offers one of the greatest sources of omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are called essential fats as they must be consumed in the daily diet and are not produced by the human body. Omega 3 essential fats lower cholesterol, improve cognitive function, offer anti-inflammatory properties and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Not just Popeye's favourite food, spinach has taken the nutritional limelight and is now considered a superfood because of its synergy of nutrients. It is low in calories and filled to the brim with minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. Now is the time to add more green into your diet.
Eggs are not just for breakfast. These tasty little things offer a multitude of nutritional benefits. They're an excellent source of protein (5.5 grams of protein per egg) and they contain only 70-80 calories per egg. The egg yolk also contains lecithin and choline - substances which assist in transporting and metabolizing fats in the body. Try a hard-boiled egg in your salad at lunch.
Olives and olive oil truly are one of nature's best gifts in terms of health benefits and flavour. The predominant type of fat found in olive oil is monounsaturated. It is believed that one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet boasts significantly lower levels of heart disease, cholesterol and stroke is largely due to the higher consumption of heart healthy monounsaturated fats found in olive oil.
The small but mighty blueberry is on everyone's superfood list. Not only are blueberries sweet and delicious, but an overwhelming body of research has now firmly established that eating berries has a positive and profound impact on human health. In fact, studies show that blueberries have the ability to limit the development and severity of certain cancers and diseases such as atherosclerosis, stroke and the neurological decline seen in Alzheimer's disease.
More great superfoods
Below are several other nutritional superstars to include in your grocery cart. They'll help you achieve optimal health:
• Sprouted grain bread
• An assortment of colourful fruits and vegetables
• Omega 3 rich foods such as cold water fish, fish oils and omega 3 fortified products like eggs, milk and bread
• Yogurt and other probiotic rich foods
• Green and white tea
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