“Super foods” – sounds pretty awesome, right? Like the Iron Man, The Hulk and Thor of the dietary world or something. But unlike Ant Man, super foods are an actual thing. They’re foods that are dense with clean, good-for-you nutrients and a diet rich in these super foods can help you feel amazing, lose weight and power up for your workouts.
There’s a super food for everyone and the good news is that they’re incredibly easy to fold into your diet pretty much right away. Here are a few that you can start consuming today with little to no extra effort. (In other words, you’re not going to have to go on some kind of globe-trotting adventure to obtain them.)
These tiny little nutrient bombs can help to slow the aging process by neutralizing free radicals (which sounds like some sort of 90’s band – wait, that’s New Radicals) and they’ve also been shown to help prevent cancer and reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Blueberries have a low glycemic index, meaning that they contain carbohydrates that digest more slowly and don’t produce spikes in insulin levels. That’s really important for weight loss and a diet high in these types of foods can help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
You can use blueberries in about a thousand different ways. My favorite is my Blueberry and Almond Breakfast Smoothie, but these are also great to add to salads or a small serving low fat greek yogurt with a little honey and trail mix for a perfect pre-workout snack.
Really, any kind of dark, leafy green vegetable can be considered a super food. Brussels Sprouts are my personal favorite and my lunch usually consists of mixed field greens and baby spinach for the base of my salad.
Kale has gained a lot of popularity lately. You may see sea salt kale chips sold in snack packs at your local grocer. But you don’t have to buy it in pre-packaged snack form to enjoy the health benefits. In fact, kale can usually be found at your local grocer or even locally grown at the farmer’s market and it’s not an expensive food by any means. Add it to a chicken broth-based soup, sautée it with some white beans and turkey sausage or mix it into your salads and toss with a vinaigrette dressing. The great thing about kale (and leafy greens in general) is that it will fill you up really fast without bombarding your diet with calories.
Very high on the list of super foods to mix into your diet would be this powerful little tree nut – the almond. You could probably survive on just almonds alone for a really long time (maybe forever?) if you got stranded in an almond tree grove or if the zombie apocalypse started while you were in the Whole Foods bulk aisle.
These magically little morsels are absolutely packed with healthy unsaturated fats that super charge your body’s ability to burn stored fat. They’ve got tons of non-animal protein and that’s not to mention that they’re high in fiber.
You can eat almonds raw or you can generally find them roasted and salted if that’s your preference. I recommend avoiding “honey roasted” almonds since that will add sugars and carbs that you don’t need. I’ve made my own cayenne or cinnamon roasted almonds in the past where you toast the almonds and toss them in a very small amount of olive oil, cayenne and garlic. There are all kinds of things you can do to enhance the flavor if raw almonds are not your thing. And then there’s almond butter – incredible stuff with lots of versatility.
One thing to note here, though – almonds come with a caloric impact. 10-15 almonds can put you in the 100-150 calorie range. So as with all things, be mindful of your portion size as overeating – even a super food like almonds – can increase your caloric intake and slow progress on weight loss (if that’s your goal).
Guacamole is not necessarily for everyone, but avocados can make an incredible addition to your diet. Like almonds, avocados are high in healthy unsaturated fats. Avocados are actually a fruit and as such, they contain lots of important vitamins – C, E, K and B-6 – in addition to omega 3 fatty acids and tons of other important nutrients that can help you feel full, keep blood sugar levels stable and keep your energy levels up.
Again, avocados are not a calorie-free food, so moderation is important here too. But I’ve found that slicing half an avocado on top of a “taco bowl” (usually with black beans, salsa, grilled organic chicken and a little bit of Mexican cheese) or adding cubed avocado to my mixed greens salad is a good way to incorporate this delicious, buttery super food into my diet.
These tasty little legumes have essentially become the cornerstone of my diet. First of all, they’re inexpensive. I just buy canned black beans from my local grocer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. But more importantly, these things offer a ton of nutrional benefit. They’re high in fiber and cholesterol-free, so if you’ve had high cholesterol then adding these into your diet can help. (Of course, you should be following the advice of your physician when it comes to managing cholesterol. But he will likely recommend a high fiber, low cholesterol diet as at least a part of the treatment – and that’s where black beans come in.)
Black beans are also high in plant-based protein which can help to build lean muscle, which also helps you burn fat faster. They’ll help you feel full due to their density, fiber and protein content.
Personally, an any-time-of-day meal that I can always enjoy is a half cup of black beans (I usually mix them in with some Rotel for flavor), a hard-boiled or even over-medium egg on top with some sliced avocado topped with a dash of Cholula.
Alright, well, now I’m hungry. Enjoy!