Every time I open my latest health or fitness magazine, there is an article telling me the top foods that I must eat every day if I want to stay healthy. They seem to promise everything from preventing cancer to keeping your skin clear. Do I really need to eat all that stuff? I mean, I know kale is supposed to be good for me, but I detest it.
In reality, no one could eat anywhere near the quantity of food required to meet all the recommendations that these experts tell us we have to consume. However, we do know that not all foods are created equal. Choosing and eating as many healthy foods as possible may help increase your life expectancy as well as the quality of your life.
Here are ten of the top power packed foods designed to give you energy, vitality and all around good health. I’m sure there are more that you’ve heard about, so just fit in as many as you can while still enjoying what you eat.
1. Beans – If they give you gas, take precautions before you eat them. Soaking them first can help. Beans of all kinds (kidney, navy, lentils, chickpeas, Northern) are high in protein. This is plant protein so it contains very little fat, carbs and calories. If fiber is a problem in your diet, eating a healthy portion of beans each day can keep your digestive system healthy. On the other hand, if you really can’t handle them, get your fiber elsewhere.
2. Oatmeal – Oatmeal has come into popularity as a food that lowers blood cholesterol. You can make it yourself with rolled oats or eat the instant kind if you are in a hurry. Oatmeal is a filling grain that also provides much needed fiber to keep hunger at bay and your blood sugar constant. I like to add some protein powder to mine for a complete breakfast in the morning with some berries mixed in.
3. Fruits – Fruits are filled with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and A. Antioxidants fight free radical damage in the body and reduce the risk of cancer. Berries such as blueberries and grapes have the highest amount of antioxidants. But choose an array of fruits in a wide variety of colors for maximum health. The antioxidants in fruit boost the immune system to fight the effects of aging in the body. I like to make sure I have a different color fruit at least twice a day. By the way, bananas definitely count and are great before a workout when you can’t eat much.
4. Allium foods – This class of foods includes garlic, onions, leeks and shallots. Garlic is known for lowering cholesterol. Allium vegetables healp guard the body against the risk of cancer and many other ailments. They also help lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Eating these power packed vegetables in their natural state, especially garlic, increases their health benefits. I suggest watching the timing of when you eat these. If you’re going to be in close quarters with someone or have a big interview the next day, hold off on these until afterward.
5. Salmon – Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of heart disease and other conditions like atherosclerosis. Wild salmon is a fatty fish but it contains good fats that have been proven to improve health in children and adults. Salmon is rich in protein, which is of great use after an exercise session to build muscle tissue. I like mine marinated in Soy Vay teriyaki sauce and grilled or broiled.
6. Flax seed – Like salmon, flax contains omega-3 fatty acids. These seeds also contain omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. You get a lot of power to fight high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes with this seed. Ground flax seed can be added to fruit smoothies, sprinkled in yogurt, eaten with cereal or added to pancake mix to name a few. Try sprinkling a little in your oatmeal.
7. Peppers – Peppers come in such a great variety of colors to brighten up any meal.. They also contain antioxidants like beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Peppers range from mild and sweet to so hot you’ll be calling the fire department. All peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which has the properties of an anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever. It can also lower cancer risk and heart disease. They are good in salads, salsa and all sorts of dishes.
8. Nuts and seeds – Nuts are high in fat but those fats are the good kind. Peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and pistachios are all providers of good fats and protein. Crush them into a fine powder and use as a coating instead of higher carb bread crumbs. Nuts also help to lower cholesterol. Eat them right out of the shell with no additives to avoid adding too much sodium in your diet.
9. Acai – You might have already heard about this berry on the news a lot. It is rich in antioxidants and increases energy. People who eat them regularly say they get more done and look better while doing it. You can get Acai juice and supplements in your health food store. Just check to be sure it’s the real thing.
10. Yogurt – Low fat or fat free yogurt is great for you. It contains calcium, Vitamin B, and protein. If you’re lactose intolerant and you don’t drink milk, yogurt is an alternative to get your calcium in to build strong bones and teeth. Live yogurt also contains friendly bacteria to help promote a healthy digestive system.
Working out regularly is essential for fitness and weight control. But building a healthier body also begins with what you eat. Try some of these super foods to get started on the right foot and combine that with a consistent exercise routine. You’ll feel more energized and happier every day. It’s definitely worth it.