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5 Superfoods for Vitality

Tuesday Tip

Foods for Vitality!

Christina Markos

Are you eating your share of superfoods to help your body stay healthier for longer? The right foods contain essential nutrients and over time they can help us in a variety of ways. From improving our cognitive abilities, maintaining a healthy weight, preventing certain cancers and keeping our hearts healthy, these superfoods sure do a lot for us! The good news is- they are all  incredibly tasty too! It is never too late to start adding these foods to your daily diet, both your mind and body will reward you!

1. Dark Greens. We all know that eating veggies and greens is a good thing, but did you know that eating healthy greens as a regular part of your diet helps to prevent cognitive decline, reduces memory loss and risks of cancer? Healthy greens contain  folate and can be another way to get more calcium into your diet. Both calcium and folate help to prevent bone loss.

How to enjoy these greens? In the warmer months, spinach and kale salads come to mind or adding kale or spinach into healthy smoothies. For these colder  months, sauteed spinach with lemon, olive oil and garlic is a simple and delicious side to any meal. Adding dark greens like escarole and kale is a great addition to any hearty soup, or adding swiss chard into a whole wheat pasta dish with chicken sausage is an instant favorite. Here are some more amazing ideas.

2. Berries. Especially blueberries, blackberries and cranberries, as they contain anthocyanins (rich antioxidant powerhouses) that have been shown to slow the growth of certain cancers and improve brain function. New evidence suggests that about two cups of blueberries per day can help older adults improve their scores on cognitive testing that includes memory exercises. This could have a beneficial effect on the day-to-day mental operations of older adults while postponing other cognitive decline. Blueberries have also been shown to reduce the cardiovascular risk for obese men and women,” explains author Tom Butcher.

How to eat more berries? Fresh is always best, but most frozen berries are picked at the height of their freshness so  you can really eat them year round. I love to add frozen berries into smoothies or top Greek yogurt with blueberries and walnuts for a very healthy breakfast. Berries are also great as a snack or in added to oatmeal.

3. Olive Oil. There is a lot of talk about the Mediterranean diet, where olive oil plays a prominent role. Olive oil contains anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat, aka the healthy fat that lowers rates of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer in those that adhere to this way of eating. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants that boost immunity.

How to use olive oil? I use olive oil for just about everything. For the biggest benefit, start by making olive oil your main cooking oil. Olive oil is also amazing drizzled over salads, or dip some fresh whole grain bread or pita into some olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a great snack before dinner. You can also use olive oil to make your own healthy dips, such as hummus.

4. Go nuts! For walnuts and almonds. Both of these nuts contain healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids) that also ease inflammation in the body. Walnuts and almonds also both provide an excellent source of vitamins and protein and are a great snack.

Need some new ways to go nuts? Make your own healthy trail mix using almonds, walnuts and dried cranberries and shredded, unsweetened coconut. In Greece many start their day with a cup of yogurt, some walnuts and a drizzle of honey. The combination is so simple and so perfect. Make or buy almond or walnut butter! Almond butter is delicious spread onto apples and celery or even used as a healthy and hearty protein source for smoothies. 

5. Green Tea. Green tea really has so many amazing healing properties. Green tea contains the highest amount of EGCG,  and vitamin C of any tea. It also contains minerals like zinc and manganese and has more powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals more so than black tea. For more info on this antioxidant powerhouse: whfoods-green tea. There are also many studies linking green tea and weight loss.

Can’t stand the taste of green tea? Try a different brand of tea. I experimented with green tea for a while before finding a few I really liked. YogiTea makes a great green tea that has a wonderful aroma and is even more delicious with a drizzle of honey or agave and a wedge of lemon. I also really love jasmine green tea. The delicate flavors go so well together. Iced green tea is great too.  If you want to get the full benefits drink at least two cups of green tea a day. Green tea is a great alternative if you are trying to cut back on your coffee or caffeine intake, as it has 1/3 of the amount of caffeine a cup or coffee or black tea has.

Combine two superfoods at a time! As mentioned above, some great ideas are to combine nuts and nut butter with berries for either a healthy homemade trail mix or a delicious breakfast smoothie. Start your day with a cup of green tea and a cup of Greek yogurt with walnuts and honey. Saute dark leafy greens with olive oil for a healthy side dish to any meal. Stay tuned for some great DIY Holiday gift ideas using these superfoods- who wouldn’t want to give the gift of vitality?