While food provides essential nutrients for the body-from fats and proteins to vitamins and minerals-not all food is created equally. Today there is a lot of talk about “super foods,” which is essentially a marketing term for a category of food that provides extraordinary benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Research is ongoing, but there are many super foods that have been found to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer, help control weight, and more. So the next time you’re in the grocery store, consider adding some of these super foods to your cart:
- Blueberries – Packed with antioxidants, blueberries also are high in potassium and vitamin C. They have been proven to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, and are a powerful anti-inflammatory. Most physicians recommend having a ½ cup serving per day. When choosing blueberries go for the darker ones; they generally contain more antioxidants.
- Fish Rich in Omega-3s – Wild (not farmed) cold-water fish like salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel are great examples of fatty fish that are rich in omega-3s. Linked to lowering the risk of heart disease and aiding in memory, omega-3s also are believed to reduce the risk of depression. Walnuts, flax seeds and fortified eggs also are great omega-3 sources.
- High-Fiber Foods – Pass on the white bread and go for the ones high in fiber, with whole wheat listed as the first ingredient. Not only will the fiber help you feel fuller longer, it will help maintain your blood sugar level and control cholesterol. Other great sources of fiber include beans, fruit and vegetables. While fresh is always best, frozen fruits and veggies also are good for you. But avoid canned whenever possible because they generally contain more sodium.
- Calcium – Vital building blocks for strong bones, calcium can be found in dairy products like milk and yogurt. Most people know calcium is important for children, but as you age, it remains a vital tool in the fight against osteoporosis. If you’re taking a calcium supplement, aim for 1,200 mg daily.
A simple online search will produce loads of great super foods. However, starting your day with a super breakfast is always smart. Maria Cannarozzi, M.D., medical director for UCF Health, practices what she preaches with her daily dose of “overnight oats.” Her recipe, which has spread through the clinic, is simple. At night, put the following into a mason jar with a lid that properly seals, shake and refrigerate overnight:
- 1/3 cup plain oats
- 2/3 cup low-fat or skim milk
- ½ banana
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- Cinnamon, to taste
The next morning, microwave for about 2 minutes and stir. It’s an instant super breakfast!
You can hear Dr. Cannarozzi discuss more super foods in her talk, “Super Foods for Super Health” on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m., at UCF Health. For more information and to register visit UCFHealth.com. There is no cost to attend, but space is limited, so registration is required.