Most of us love to eat great food. But, we also want to feel great. Can we do both? You bet you can if you choose foods that make you energetic, smarter, leaner, and stronger — and then use them the right way in your daily eating habits. To help you accomplish that, here’s a story reported by CBS News. Registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth, the senior food and nutrition editor for Health Magazine, made these suggestions on “The Early Show” about what she considered some of the top “superfoods” for women:
What are “superfoods”? As Largeman-Roth explained, the list comes from Health magazine’s experts.
“We went to our experts and said, ‘If you had to compile a list of 10 superfoods based on nutrient profiles and research, what would you choose?'” Health magazine went through the answers and, based on the responses, came up with this list:
- Wild salmon
- Wild blueberries
- Greek yogurt
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate
- Red beans
Largeman-Roth says superfoods go beyond just eating food for energy. “These foods,” she said, “are like the supermodels and superathletes for the food world, giving you the biggest bang for your buck, as far as health goes.”
Salmon, she said, is important for its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Largeman-Roth explained omega 3’s also boost mood and fight depression and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, salmon has vitamin D which is another essential nutrient that we’re not getting enough of. Largeman-Roth, citing the American Heart Association recommendation, said people should eat 2, 3 to 4-ounce servings of salmon per week.
Oats, another superfood, helps lower cholesterol. In addition, Largeman-Roth said, oats help you feel full – a key component for a weight loss or weight maintenance diet. “I’m a big fan of steel cut oats — they’re a bit higher in fiber,” she said. “But you should get them any way you can. Instant is fine, just don’t get too much sugar. They’re another example of a very versatile food: you can supplement them with other foods (yogurt) or use them to make cookies or pancakes.”
Greek yogurt also made the list, Largeman-Roth said because of its calcium content. Greek yogurt, she explained, is triple strained, meaning it has three times the amount of milk, meaning its good for your bones. Just one serving, she said, provides nearly a quarter of a woman’s daily calcium needs. She added women should have three servings of dairy per day, so Greek yogurt should make up one of those servings.
Superfoods also extend to nuts – walnuts, that is. Not only are walnuts delicious, they are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and omega-3s, according to Health magazine. Eating just a handful a day, Largeman-Roth said, can help lower your cholesterol, boost brain power, help you sleep better and cope with stress. Walnuts may also prevent heart disease and fight cancer. She said you need about an ounce a day — about 10 whole walnuts.
Why did olive oil make the Health magazine list? Olive oil is another heart-healthy food, Largeman-Roth said, but it also can help with longevity. “The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity,” she said. “This diet protects against Alzheimer’s disease, but also helps with mild fuzzy thinking.” She said you can use olive oil in a variety of ways, from drizzling it on top of pasta to using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.
Some vegetables and fruits also appear on the Health magazine list, including blue berries and broccoli. Blueberries, Largeman-Roth said, are great because they’re super high in antioxidants. “They can help prevent memory loss and improve motor skills and even fight wrinkles,” she said. “They’re an all-natural anti-aging remedy.” Blueberries also may be used in a variety of ways: as a savory sauce to go with meat or fish, or you can eat them plain. She recommended buying frozen blueberries to save money if fresh blueberries aren’t in season. Plus, with frozen berries, Largeman-Roth noted, you can keep them in the freezer, and take them out when you need them. To achieve the maximum effects of blueberries, eat a cup a day.
As for broccoli, this vegetable is considered a superfood because it may potentially help fight breast cancer by reducing levels of excess estrogen. “It’s also rich in vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A,” Largeman-Roth said. “Broccoli helps you feel full on less than 30 calories per serving. Broccoli and salmon can make a great superfood pairing. You should be eating two or more half-cup servings of cooked broccoli per week.”
Red beans also appear on the list, a food that Largeman-Roth said is an often overlooked food, which ranks high on the ORAC scale for antioxidants. “(They’re) packed with protein, folate, minerals and fiber, including resistant starch,” she said. “They’re also very affordable food and very versatile. You can use them in burritos, dips, etc.” You should eat three cups a week to reap the health rewards.
Avocados made the list, too. Rich in mono-unsaturated fats, avocados, Largeman-Roth said, can help you lose belly fat. “You can eat it plain, or make soup with it, or whip up some guacamole. You can add it do a salad also,” she said. “It is high in calories so you want to stick to a half an avocado a day. It also makes a great baby food — I feed it to my baby.”
But superfoods aren’t all about fruits and vegetables. Dark chocolate, a decadent dessert, also appears in the Health list. Rich in antioxidants, Largeman-Roth said dark chocolate can help strengthen bones, and according to some studies, reduce blood pressure. However, you shouldn’t overdo the dark chocolate. Largeman-Roth said only chocolate that’s 70 percent cocoa will work, and you should only eat a quarter of an ounce a day – about two small squares.