Source: Beaumont Hospitals Housecall (Fall 2007)
Certain foods are packed with numerous health benefits. Here's a list of these super foods and their super powers. Eat them often as a healthier alternative!
Salmon, albacore tuna and sardines are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, which decreases blood clotting, prevents heart arrhythmias and combats inflammation. Try eating these fish twice a week. If you're not a fish lover, take a fish oil supplement each day instead. "Omega-3 fatty acids are instrumental in reducing the risk of heart attack by lowering cholesterol, reducing triglycerides and promoting the health of coronary artery walls," says barry Franklin, Ph.D., director of Beaumont's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories.
This nutritious nut is high in monounsaturated fat, which helps lower LDL "bad"cholesterol, and high in vitamin E, an antioxidant to help protect cells from everyday damage. A 1/3 cup serving provides six grams of protein and three grams of fiber, making it a satisfying snack or a crunch topping for yogurt.
3. EDAMAME (eh-dah-MAH-mee)
These green soybeans can lower LDL "bad" cholesterol, and new research suggests they may protect against colon cancer. Look for edamame in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Just steam and pop the beans out of the shells for a snack, or add them to your next salad.
These blue marvels lead in antioxidant power, thanks to anthocyanins, the pigment that gives them their blue color. A one-cup serving has only 80 calories, four grams of fiber and a good dose of vitamin C. Stock up on fresh or frozen blueberries and add it to a batch of pancakes or a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt.
This leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, calcium, fiber and lutein, a carotenoid that guards against age-related eye diseases. Steam spinach with garlic and drizzle with olive oil for a quick, crowd-pleasing side dish.
These tiny, nutty-flavored seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and lignans, a phytochemical that may block hormone-related cancers. Sprinkle one to two tablespoosn of ground flaxseeds (grind in a coffee grinder or buy flasxeed meal) into cold or hot cereals, yogurt, soups and batters.
Available in a rainbow of colors, lentils offer a variety of heart-protective nutrients, including folate and fiber. They are a healthy meat alternative, providing nine grams of protein and 3.3 milligrams of iron per serving. Lentils acan be prepared warm as a soup or cold for a summer salad.
8. QUINOA (keen-wah)
These seed-like grains are packed with goodness. A 1/2 cup serving has 11 grams of protein, five grams of fiber and ample magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. Just substitute quinoa for white pasta in your next pasta salad.
This cultured milk product is famed for its friendly bacteria, collectively called "probiotics," which promotes good digestion and boosts immunity. For breakfast, mix your favorite flavored yogurt with fruit and milk for a healthy smoothie.
10. DARK CHOCOLATE
Saving the best for last, dark chocolate is high in flavoniods, a type of antioxidant beneficial for health. Choose dark chocolate with 60 to 70 percent cacao for the most antioxidants and moderate your portions.