It’s comforting to know we can be in charge of nurturing our own health by choosing foods that offer an array of health benefits. The following five everyday super foods are must haves in your kitchen because they’re nutritious, delicious, convenient and economical.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We’ve all heard this statement, but research shows that all fruits and veggies can play a role in promoting and maintaining our health. Fruits and veggies have good-for-you nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre which have been shown to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
Choose a variety of in season fresh fruits and veggies every day. If not try frozen, and try to focus on dark or brightly coloured fruits and veggies such as pomegranates, blueberries, carrots or spinach (the pigment is where the ultra-healthy antioxidants and phytochemicals can be found).
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains contain fibre, vitamins, minerals and other valuable phytochemicals and antioxidants that may not be found in some fruits and veggies. Some experts believe that whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to lower cholesterol and that they have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Select whole grain products by looking for the word “whole grain” in the ingredient list or try rolled oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice, barley and rye.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Research shows that eating a small amount of nuts and seeds regularly can help reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Nuts, seeds and nut butters are great options for snacks, or to include in your meals, because their protein, healthy fats and fibre content can help with satiety. Be aware of your portion sizes though – ¼ cup is all you need at a time.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to your health, when eaten in adequate amounts. As a result, these good bacteria work at improving your digestive health. Probiotics can be found naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, tempeh, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, in probiotic supplements, or foods with added live probiotic cultures.
5. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are a great source of omega-3 fats, which can offer many benefits for every member of your family. Some experts believe that omega-3s may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help in the brain, nerve and eye development in infants. Great sources of omega-3s include salmon, sardines, anchovies, arctic char and trout. Pressed for time? Canned salmon is an excellent way to get your omega-3s! Enjoy the health benefits of fatty fish by consuming fish at least twice a week.
1. Nutrition in a Nutshell, Health Link Alberta, Your Health Magazine, 2005.
2. Probiotics – The Good Bacteria, Eat Right Ontario, 2010.
3. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, Health Canada, 2011.