Super Foods, Super Flavor

Power up your plate and your taste buds with these nutrient-packed options.
Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D.

Recipes:


Eat to look and feel your best. Super foods such as berries, legumes, nuts, oats, and spinach are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help prevent disease, aid in weight loss, and maintain a healthy body. These nutritious ingredients also add up to some fine eating.

Round Out Your Plate
Here are some more stellar, nutrient-dense choices: sweet potatoes, salmon, dark chocolate, whole grain flour, olive oil, tomatoes, low-fat dairy products, dark leafy greens, and soy.

Our Top Five Super Foods

  • Berries: Packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E, and folic acid, berries reduce the risk of cancer and protect the body from the stresses of aging by boosting the immune system. They also help prevent bladder infections and reduce the risk for Alzheimer's.
  • Legumes: Loaded with protein, complex carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fiber, and iron, beans are a one-stop source for essential nutrients. Beans also contain certain phytochemicals that can offer cancer-inhibiting abilities.
  • Nuts: High in "good" monounsaturated fat, nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios help prevent heart disease and control blood pressure. Because of their high fiber content, they help reduce the chance of colon cancer and improve glucose and insulin stability. Nuts are higher in calories than other super foods, so they should be eaten in moderation (about 1 to 2 ounces per day).
  • Oats: Fiber-rich oats lower the risk for a number of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease. Whole grain products such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and multigrain pasta also offer these benefits.
  • Spinach: Fresh, frozen, or canned spinach contains a significant amount of vitamin A and the carotenoid lutein to help reduce the risk of cataracts and vision loss. Additionally, vitamins C and K, folic acid, and fiber help lower the incidence of heart disease and stroke, prevent osteoporosis, and build strong bones. Other leafy greens with these beneficial effects include kale, arugula, bok choy, and romaine lettuce.

"Healthy & Light: Super Foods, Super Flavor" is from the March 2006 issue of Southern Living.