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What's a 'Superfood'?
Just about any health professional has his or her own "top 10" list of healthy foods. They often include berries, tomatoes, nuts, salmon, whole grains, low-fat dairy, eggs, dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and sweet potatoes. You could also argue the merits of other foods, such as green tea, carrots, chocolate, alcohol (in limited quantities), olive oil, soy products, oranges, pumpkin, and turkey.
Whatever particular foods you choose, lots of fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, beans, and omega 3- fatty acid-rich foods should be gracing your table, according to the experts and the U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines
The challenge is working more of these super-nutritious foods into your daily diet -- especially if you are not a fan of their taste or texture.
For example, "if you love tuna noodle casserole, crab cakes or fish patties, substitute salmon for the seafood."
One favorites is tofu because it's so versatile. - You can crumble it on chili, slice it thin in lasagna, or puree it and use it to replace half the cream cheese in recipes, Tofu is an excellent example of adding good nutrition without realizing a taste change.
Overcoming Food Biases
Preconceived ideas can cause people to turn up their noses before they even taste a particular food. Our taste buds evolve over time, and some foods just get a bad reputation.
If you want to give broccoli (or any other food) another chance, consider the impact of the visual presentation. To prevent your food biases from kicking in, make sure the food is shredded, pureed, diced, or otherwise masked.
One Change at a Time
Making changes in your daily routine can be daunting. But you don't have to eat all superfoods, all the time. Start small and make tiny dietary tweaks, one at a time, until they become healthy habits.
Something as simple as choosing a whole grain over a refined grain is a step in the right direction.
If you don't like a particular food at first, keep trying. It can take some time before new foods get added to your favorite list.
"Research on children has shown that it can take as many as eight or nine times before an eating preference is established,"
Here are 15 tips, techniques, and ideas to help you sneak nutrition into your diet.
Fruits and Veggies
While the headlines rant on about healthy fats and net carbs, the real news in nutrition is the way food affects your genes. It turns out that specific chemicals in foods -- such as sulforaphane, a phytochemical in broccoli -- work with your genes to ratchet up your body's natural defense systems, helping to inactivate toxins and free radicals before they can do the damage that leads to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even premature aging.
While it's still not quite a household term, "nutritional genomics" is a field that's only going to get bigger, says Jose Ordovas, PhD, director of the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at Tufts University. He predicts that in the next five to 10 years we'll be able to assess our genetic vulnerabilities and eat to reduce our risks accordingly.
If, say, you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease, you may want to eat more broccoli and oats. Someone with other genetic red flags might alter her diet in other ways. Says Ordovas, "Exactly when this will happen is difficult to predict. But it will happen."
The specifics - which foods influence which genes - are still being mapped out. But while you're waiting to hear about the panacea for your gene pool, you might as well feast on foods that appear to pack the most potent disease-fighting, anti-aging punch.
Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, and Salsa
Lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red, also appears to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people 55 and older. Additionally, a study of elderly nuns (77-98 years old) linked higher levels of lycopene with greater self-sufficiency.
While fresh tomatoes have a good hit of lycopene, the most absorbable forms are found in cooked tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce and soup. A spoonful of tomato salsa will also offer a dose of the antioxidant.
Get the same benefits with: pink grapefruit, guava, red bell peppers, and watermelon.
Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Carrots
Eating at least two cups of orange fruits and vegetables a day boosts intake of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, essential for healthy skin and eyes, and which may also reduce the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
Lutein and lycopene, also found in orange produce, help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and may also protect skin from sun damage and even reduce wrinkling.
Another reason to add a handful of raw baby carrots to your lunch: falcarinol, a substance naturally present in carrots, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cancerous tumors in rats by one-third.
Get the same benefits with: mangoes and cantaloupes.
Blueberries and Red Grapes
Anthocyanins, the chemicals that give these fruits their deep hue, are absorbed into the brain's membranes and can improve memory and cognition, says James Joseph, PhD, of Tufts University. "And frozen fruit works just as well as fresh."
Get the same benefits with: plums (fresh or dried), purple grape juice, blackberries, and red cabbage.
Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
The sulforaphane in broccoli increases the production of enzymes that clear toxins from the body. The younger the broccoli, the more sulforaphane it has: Three-day-old sprouts offer up to 50 times the protection of mature stalks, says Paul Talalay, MD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Go for BroccoSprouts, which are grown to ensure high levels of the phytochemicals.
If you're sticking to the stalks, buy fresh: Frozen broccoli is blanched, which leaches out some of the sulforaphane, says Talalay.
Don't like broccoli? Try out other cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and cauliflower, which offer some of the same benefits. Get the same benefits with: broccolini and broccoli rabe (also known as rapini).
Oatmeal, Barley, and Beans
Oatmeal's star ingredient is soluble fiber, which lowers levels of LDL cholesterol and, consequently, cardiovascular disease.
If you need a change of grain, toss some barley in your cart, which can lower LDL and total cholesterol as well as oatmeal can.
You can also boost your intake of soluble fiber (as well as heart-healthy folic acid and blood-pressure-controlling potassium) by eating beans: about three cups a week is optimal.
Beans contain anthocyanins and quercetin, antioxidants also found in berries and apples. The darker the bean, the bigger the benefit.
Spinach, Kale, and Collard Greens
If you make just one change today, eat some leafy greens.
A recent study suggests that, for each daily serving you eat, you drop your risk of heart disease by 11 percent.
Eating greens may also save your eyesight, thanks to their two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. This antioxidant combo decreases your risk for age-related macular degeneration.
"Greens are packed with carotenoids because they sit out in the sun all day, so they need protection from sun-induced damage," says biochemist Dean P. Jones, PhD, of Emory University School of Medicine.
"The carotenoids accumulate in the retina and protect your eyes." Dietary guidelines advise at least three cups of greens a week.
Frozen or bagged is as good as fresh.
Salmon, Sardines, and Tuna
The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat two servings of fish a week, for the omega-3 fatty acids that boost heart health.
New research suggests that omega-3s may also keep your brain sharp. A recent study found that a higher intake of fatty fish significantly reduced mental decline, particularly when the subjects were timed during challenging mental tasks.
While mercury and PCBs have become a concern, "The benefits will outweigh the risks," says Nadeau.
Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which have higher levels of mercury. If fresh fish isn't an option, go for canned tuna, salmon, and sardines.
Cornell researchers recently found that quercetin, an antioxidant in apples, may protect the brain from the kinds of damage seen in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
All varieties contain healthy amounts of this and other antioxidants, says study author Chang Y. Lee, PhD, chairman of the department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University.
Eat the peel; it's where the compound is most concentrated.
Low-Fat Dairy Products or Fortified Soy Milk
Yogurt and other low-fat dairy products are packed with calcium and vitamin D, which keep bones healthy and strong.
Eat two to three servings a day. If you're lactose intolerant, mix it up with calcium- and vitamin D-enriched soy milk.
Soy has been touted as easing menopause symptoms and preventing cancer, and it earned an FDA-approved health claim based on evidence that eating 25 grams a day could help lower cholesterol.
Isoflavones, components of soy with estrogen-like properties, may also decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
Avocados and Olives
It's old news that the avocado's monounsaturated fatty acids are good for heart health, but new research yields another reason to go for the guac -- especially if you pair it with salsa.
The fat in avocados (and olives) enhances absorption of disease-fighting carotenoids:
"There has to be some fat in the diet to efficiently absorb these fat-soluble phytonutrients," says food scientist Steven J. Schwartz, PhD, of Ohio State University in Columbus.
Like avocados and olives, these cooking oils aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals.
A study had showed that when a salad of spinach, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots was topped with fat-free salad dressing, fat-soluble carotenoids were not absorbed.
We need both kinds, but our modern Western diet is overrun with omega-6 sources, which may add to the inflammation that's been linked with increased risk for heart and neurodegenerative diseases.
Like black teas, green varieties contain antioxidants called catechins that have a protective effect against heart disease.
But a recent study of postmenopausal women showed that only green tea can significantly decrease your risk of breast cancer.
The green tea "turns down" levels of circulating estrogen, which have been implicated in the development of the disease. Animal research suggests that a daily cup of tea (bagged or loose) will provide the benefits.
Ginger, Curry, and Other Spices
A recent study found that one half-teaspoon daily of antioxidant-rich herbs and spices, whether fresh or dried oregano, sage, peppermint, thyme, clove, allspice, and cinnamon; can help prevent chronic disease.
Ginger, in particular, has high antioxidant power and anti-inflammatory properties.
But the "hottest" spice these days is curcumin, a component of turmeric and yellow curry, which animal studies suggest may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
"Indians who eat a lot of curry blend have much lower rates of Alzheimer's, but at this point researchers don't know yet if that's what makes the difference," says Greg M. Cole, PhD, of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
These guilty pleasures may actually help your health.
These foods can help alleviate discomfort associated with heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux.
If you experience frequent indigestion or heartburn, you have lots of company. Millions of Americans have ongoing digestive health problems of some sort. It can be a sign of overeating, choosing the wrong foods, or a more serious problem.
Registered dietitian Sharon Saka, of Suffern, New York, says that a few simple lifestyle changes can alleviate heartburn and indigestion. She suggests eating smaller, more frequent meals. This will decrease pressure on your abdomen and make it less likely for you to experience heartburn.
Other preventive tips:
A number of foods can trigger heartburn or indigestion by relaxing the band of muscles at the end of your esophagus so it can't keep out stomach acid.
Here are some common gastric irritants you might want to avoid:
If your problem continues or if you regularly have severe heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD), see your doctor.
For overall healthy digestion and to minimize acid reflux, make sure you get plenty of fiber from a variety of vegetables, non-citrus fruits, and whole grains.
Drink enough fluids to help your body absorb important nutrients and lubricate food waste. And exercise regularly.
Use low-fat methods when cooking, for example, substituting broth for butter or oil when you saute, and replacing oil with applesauce (cup for cup) when you're baking.
Herbal chamomile tea is said to have a calming effect on the stomach, so try some after you eat or before bed.
And here are some meal and snack suggestions from Saka that are stomach-friendly:
Bowl of Oatmeal with Raisins or Blueberries
Starting the morning with oatmeal will give you a nutrition-packed start to your day.
Oatmeal is high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, provides 20 percent of your daily vitamin A, and delivers 41 percent of your RDA for iron.
Combine it with some skim milk and you'll get 15 percent of your daily requirement of calcium. Throw in some raisins for some extra iron and potassium, or blueberries for more antioxidants and vitamin C.
You can't beat turkey if you want a lean, nutrient-packed protein source that'll be easy on your stomach. Eat a turkey sandwich for lunch and you'll get 28 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and more than 34 percent of your daily niacin needs, which decreases cholesterol levels.
Salmon, Zucchini, and Potato Kabob
Cut up some salmon (or another fish of your choice), zucchini, and potatoes (leave the skin on to get the most fiber and vitamin C) into cubes or bite-sized pieces and pop the skewer on the grill or in the broiler.
The salmon gives you protein, B vitamins, and phosphorus. And it's a perfect source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attacks, and even protect against cancer. And the zucchini is packed with vitamins and minerals, too!
Grilled Chicken with Carrots
Without the skin, chicken is a terrific low-fat source of protein. Easy to cook either indoors or out, you also get iron, 26 percent of your RDA of vitamin B6, and the antioxidant selenium. You won't find another food with more beta-carotene than you get in carrots, giving you 242 percent of your RDA of vitamin A and 3 grams of fiber too.
Apples and Grapes
Both apples and grapes are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and are a great source of vitamin C. You'll also get 3 grams of dietary fiber if you choose an apple as your snack or dessert.
4 Surprising Foods
If you couldn't get a flu shot this year and you're worried about avoiding a dangerous bout of the virus, take a close look at your daily meals and make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and low-fat protein.
"A healthy diet combined with frequent exercise and adequate sleep is the best defense against flu," says Pat Vasconcellos, registered dietitian, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in private practice in Boston.
Vasconcellos also stresses the importance of washing your hands numerous times a day to keep your body germ-free, including after you eat one of the flu-fighting foods on our list.
They may not be as popular as oranges, but black currants are one of richest sources of vitamin C you can find -- around 2,000mg of vitamin C per 3.5 ounces, more than three times the recommended daily intake for adults.
Getting enough vitamin C is crucial because it helps prevent infections and helps keep the immune system healthy. So keep your eyes peeled for both entree and dessert recipes that call for black currants.
The "other white meat" contains high levels of zinc and selenium, both of which help keep your immune system strong.
Pork is also one of the best sources of B vitamins and contains only a little more total fat than beef. So when your family is sick of beef and you're looking for a quality protein source, try a pork entree instead.
Mix up your morning breakfast with a glass of grapefruit juice instead of orange juice for a vitamin C-rich drink that's both sweet and tart.
However, you should check with your doctor if you're on certain medications for blood pressure, AIDS, anxiety, or hay fever, as mixing grapefruit juice with certain drugs can lead to dangerous toxicity.
Your kids might turn their noses up at the sight of them, but Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin C, as well as fiber and folate. They boost anticarcinogenic glucosinolates, which have important cancer-fighting properties.
Serve them lightly steamed, or include them in beef stew for a flu-busting boost of nutrition.
4 Trusty Staples
Research shows that one cup of yogurt a day may work to keep the gastrointestinal tract healthier, which can help ward off flu. Plus, recent studies show that regular consumption of dairy products like low-fat yogurt may help you lose weight.
Look for yogurt that contains the active culture L. acidophilus, which is helpful in fighting off yeast infections. And be sure your yogurt's label says it contains live cultures, as the cultures are what have the positive effect on your GI tract.
An American staple and one of the cheapest sources of vitamin C, potatoes can round out any meal with high amounts of potassium and fiber, too. The skin contains the most fiber and the flesh just under the skin contains the most vitamin C.
It's important to use fresh potatoes, as they contain more vitamin C than potatoes that have been sitting around in your cabinets. Also, be aware that soaking potatoes in water causes them to lose their vitamin C.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Complex carbohydrates, like those found in whole wheat pasta, are an essential part of a healthy diet that will keep your immune system strong. Whole wheat pasta is also rich in niacin, fiber, and iron. Whip up the same recipes that you used for white pasta, but substituting the whole wheat version instead.
A good source of immune-boosting minerals like zinc, selenium, and iron, cashew nuts are also quite high in protein.
Just be sure to consume them in moderation, because nuts are high in fat and calories. However, most of the fat in nuts is unsaturated.
Your diet is the first line of defense against catching colds.
There are specific vitamins and nutrients that you can eat to help bolster your immune system. "Think of nutritious foods as part of your cold-season armor," says Jeannie Moloo, PhD, registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "A healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low-fat meat will certainly help ward off those nasty colds."
Water is also a key ingredient in your anti-cold diet, says Moloo. "Drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water and decaffeinated drinks, gives your body what it needs to stay healthy," she says. "If you're dehydrated you're more susceptible to catching cold." So, keep bottles of water on hand, and add these items to your shopping list this winter:
Research shows that one cup of yogurt a day may work to keep the gastrointestinal track healthier, which can help ward off colds, says Moloo.
Even better, some new studies indicate that regular dairy consumption may help you maintain a healthy weight, or even shed a couple pounds.
Make sure the label says your yogurt has live cultures, as the cultures are what have the positive effect on your GI track.
Trade in your sugary breakfast cereal for a bowl of muesli, a whole grain oat-based cereal with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Whole grain foods like muesli contain more nutrients than highly processed foods, specifically zinc and selenium, which help keep your immune system strong. If muesli is not your thing, try a whole grain oatmeal instead for similar health benefits.
It's no surprise that oranges made our Superfoods list because of their high vitamin C content, a common cold-fighter. Just one orange a day provides your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
In fact, eating a whole orange is preferable to drinking a glass of orange juice, because it doesn't have the added sugars and preservatives that processed juice often contains. An easy and inexpensive fruit to find, oranges are also rich in flavonoids that may have an antioxidant effect.
Go heavy on the garlic in your dinner recipes. This flavor-packed vegetable is also packed with allicin, an antibiotic that has been shown to prevent complications from a cold in some research. According to Moloo, some studies recommend as much as one clove a day. So if you don't already own a garlic mincer, now is the time to get one. Add fresh minced garlic to some plain hummus for a quick snack, or rub it on a steak for a burst of flavor.
Lean Ground Beef
A good source of protein, zinc, and selenium, lean ground beef can help keep your cells healthy and fight off illness. Flavor your lean ground beef with a little garlic, shape into hamburgers, and serve on whole grain rolls for the ultimate cold-fighting dinner for your family. Add a tomato for some extra vitamin C!
Green Bell Peppers
One of the best vegetable sources of vitamin C, green bell peppers are a great item to include in your salads and dinner entrees when it comes to fighting off colds. Flavonoids found in the peppers actually are thought to enhance the antioxidant action of the vitamin C. Green peppers also contain a natural painkiller, capsaicin, that is clinically proven to be effective when rubbed on joints in a cream form. Saute some green peppers and onions and serve as a side with steak, burgers, or chicken. Or slice fresh peppers into strips and dip them into that garlic-flavored hummus for an afternoon snack. Your stuffed-up head will thank you for it.
Calcium is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and bones. And now there is some research that shows that calcium might help with blood pressure control, says Tara Gidus, a registered dietitian (RD) in private practice in Orlando, Florida, and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
But do you know how much calcium you need each day, and which foods will get you the most bang for your buck when it comes to calcium intake?
Women and men ages 19 to 50 need 1,000 milligrams a day, according to the Dietary Reference Intake, which is published by the National Academy of Medicine.
Recommended amounts for women over 50 years old vary between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams per day depending on age and whether the woman is menopausal and on hormone replacement therapy.
Gidus says she recommends people always try to get calcium through food first, because it is absorbed better by the body. But if you can't, it's okay to turn to supplements. If you're worried you aren't getting all your milligrams in, check out the list below for some calcium-rich choices.
A portable way to put calcium in your diet, yogurt is also a good source of protein. Plus, some research has shown that dairy foods like yogurt can be helpful if you're trying to lose weight because it's a filling and often low-calorie snack. Select a plain low-fat, low-sugar-content yogurt, mix in some fresh berries for an extra serving of fruit, and you've got a satisfying and healthy afternoon snack with almost 50 percent of your daily calcium needs.
Also a good source of protein, milk is our most common supply of calcium. It is often fortified with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium more effectively. If you're allergic to milk or lactose intolerant, look for soy milk that is fortified with calcium as an alternative, says Gidus.
Recommended Serving Size: 8 ounces of low-fat 1%, 290 milligrams of calcium, 102 calories
Romano and Swiss Cheese
These varieties have the highest amount of calcium of all the cheeses, according to Gidus. Cheese is also one of the few good sources of vitamin B2 and a good source of B12. Since cheese is also high in fat, you'll want to consume it in moderation. Serve four small slices of Swiss with whole wheat crackers for a extra serving of whole grains. Or choose Romano cheese to top your pastas, instead of Parmesan, for a bone-building supplement.
Look for tofu that says on the label that it's processed with calcium in order to gain maximum benefit from this vegetarian staple, which is derived from soybeans. Tofu is also a good source of a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Although not nearly as high in calcium as dairy products, spinach does have more calcium than most vegetables. However, the calcium isn't absorbed as well as the calcium in dairy products, says Gidus.
Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice
If you can't eat diary, Gidus recommends turning to calcium-fortified products like orange juice to meet your daily calcium needs. Many companies manufacture calcium-fortified versions of their popular products.
You can maximize brain function by eating a healthy and balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, which are a primary fuel source for the brain.
"Low carb diets may be in, but people must have complex carbohydrates to have good brain function," says Rachel Brandeis, a registered dietitian (RD) of Atlanta, Georgia and spokesperson for American Dietetic Association. "Without carbohydrates you might not think as clearly and you can be lethargic."
It's important to avoid simple carbohydrates often found in junk food because the glucose gives the brain a short-lived sugar high, often followed by a crash that makes you feel hungry and tired. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, supply the brain with a steady stream of glucose that enhances brain function. Brandeis recommends making each meal balanced by including both proteins and carbohydrates.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Skim Milk and an Apple or Raspberries
The secret to warming up your brain each day is as simple as eating breakfast, says Brandeis. Choose a hot or cold whole grain cereal like Muesli (with no added sugar) or oatmeal. These provide a good range of vitamins and minerals as well as soluble fiber to help keep you satiated throughout the morning.
Have your cereal with skim milk, a nonfat source of protein and calcium. Add some fruit, like an apple or raspberries, which are one of the best fresh fruit sources of fiber. This is a great way to fuel your brain with both carbohydrates and protein.
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread with Tomato
Brandeis recommends trying to include at least three food groups in your lunchtime meal, something this sandwich easily accomplishes.
Pick a whole wheat bread, which has more vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium than regular white bread. Light meat turkey offers an extremely low-fat meat protein source that is also rich in B vitamins and selenium.
Adding veggies like lettuce and tomato to your sandwich will give you an extra dose of carbohydrates as well as vitamins like folate. To add even more protein and calcium to your sandwich, choose a low-fat cheese like cheddar or American.
Dinner: Salmon with Brown Short-Grain Rice and a Garden Salad
"Some people make the mistake of just eating a protein and a salad for dinner at night," says Brandeis. "Even though vegetables have carbohydrates, they don't have enough to fuel your brain like brown rice will."
Salmon is a good source of protein and an exceptional source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help to prevent heart disease and strokes, and can enhance brain function. If salmon is not your thing, substitute other fishes like mackerel, bluefish, or herring, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Brown short-grain rice is an ideal complex carbohydrate food with some fiber. Whole wheat pasta is a good alternative to brown rice, because it's also high in fiber.
A mixed vegetable salad filled with asparagus, bell peppers, and broccoli can round out your meal with additional vitamins and carbohydrates.
The summer heat can suffocate even the most voracious appetite. Cultures around the world each have their creative methods for staying cool -- spicy foods are the choice around the equator, while others drink hot tea to make their sweat glands work overtime.
But who wants to be sweaty when it's already sticky outside? What we want are some healthy, refreshing foods -- preferably snacks that satisfy those recommended daily allowances (RDA) for essential vitamins and minerals. So we talked to registered dietician Sharon Saka, of Suffern, New York, who says our best bet is to avoid hot foods and heavy meals, and take advantage of summer's fruits and vegetables. Saka recommends eating smaller amounts more often, and says staying hydrated is essential -- at least 6 to 8 cups of decaffeinated fluid a day -- especially if you're outside and exercising.
So here are 10 superfoods to help you stay cool this summer. And the best part: many of these snacks are great meals in themselves!
Kiwi, Papaya, Raspberry Fruit Salad
When the heat is on, just about any juicy fruit is refreshing and delicious.
Kiwi, papaya, and raspberries are a powerful combination because they're each packed with cancer-fighting vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and beta-carotene. In fact, both kiwi and papaya rival oranges for their vitamin C content -- one kiwi contains 117 percent of the RDA and papaya a whooping 313 percent.
Vitamin C is, of course, crucial to our immune system, and some studies show it may reduce high blood pressure.
Papaya and kiwi also add potassium to your diet, which helps your body stay hydrated, regulates your nerves, heartbeat, and blood pressure. And 67 percent of your RDA of vitamin K can be found in papaya.
This under-rated vitamin is necessary for normal blood clotting, and it helps your body absorb calcium, which is especially important for people at risk for osteoporosis.
Raspberries win in the fiber category with 8 grams, and they're rich in vitamin C as well. In addition to its regulatory qualities, the right amount of fiber is linked to a decreased incidence of colon cancer, and it helps keep cholesterol levels lower.
Now, add some protein to this fruit salad -- low-fat cheese perhaps? -- and you have a full meal.
Chickpeas and Green Salad
A crisp green salad is the perfect light dinner for steamy summer evenings, especially since no oven is required. Trade in your iceberg lettuce for spinach and get a Popeye-size dose of iron.
Add some chickpeas to it for a protein and fiber bonus, plus 20 percent of your daily folate needs.
Folate is essential to red blood cell growth and has been shown to prevent birth defects if taken by pregnant women. Chickpeas are also rich in vitamin B6, which aids in the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and has been used by nutritionists for PMS relief. Mix in some cherry or grape tomatoes and you get more fiber, plus 19 percent of your vitamin A.
Fruit Smoothies or Ice Pops
Here's another twist on using fruits to stay cool. Put those raspberries, papaya, and kiwi in a blender with some crushed ice for a smoothie that will make the heat a distant memory. Or put a pureed fruit mixture into ice-pop molds and put them in the freezer overnight for a frozen fast food treat whenever you're ready.
Crushed pineapple is a great frozen fruit snack too, especially since it's yet another good source of vitamin C and thiamin, a mineral that helps release the energy from carbohydrates and ensures that the brain and nerves have enough glucose.
Tuna or Chicken Salad in a Green Pepper
A scoop of tuna or chicken salad in a green pepper is a simple summertime meal. Yellow, red, and orange peppers are all nutritious too, so pick whatever appeals to you. In addition to the protein in the tuna and chicken, you'll get fiber from the pepper, along with 159 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and some vitamin A too. Vitamin A, or retinol, is essential for healthy vision, skin, and growth.
Cantaloupe and Ricotta Cheese
Having cantaloupe as part of any meal or snack can be wonderfully refreshing. And you'll get 108 percent of your vitamin A RDA and 98 percent of your vitamin C. Combine it with some ricotta cheese and you'll get protein, plus 17 percent of your calcium needs, equal to drinking a 1/2 cup of milk.
Ricotta is a delicious substitute for cottage cheese, and it's lower in sodium and calories. Try it on a slice of whole wheat bread or a small pita (both add fiber and iron), sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Or mix it into a fruit salad for a delectable dessert.
What you eat can make a difference if you're depressed or just suffering from a temporary bout of the blues.
Poached Salmon with Dilled Sour Cream
Feeling down once in a while is a natural part of life's ups and downs. But there are ways to adjust your diet to help stabilize your mood. Susan Moores, registered dietitian, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and nutrition consultant in St. Paul, Minnesota, says eating regular meals is vital to keeping your moods balanced. "It's important to keep your energy level up by not skipping meals, otherwise your serotonin level, a chemical in the brain that produces calmness, could change."
Choosing a healthy variety of food and not just focusing on one nutrient is crucial, says Moores. "When people eat better they feel better, and there is a definite role for a healthful diet when someone is suffering from depression.
Good nutrition won't pull you out of depression, but it is a piece of the puzzle for managing depression." Moore also cautions that popular low-carbohydrate diets may have a negative impact on people's brains.
"Carbohydrates are linked to serotonin production and lack of carbohydrates may cause changes in mood," she says. Here, a list of foods that contain nutrients that might help stabilize your mood.
Note: If you're dealing with prolonged depression, you may benefit from therapy and/or medication. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
Salmon and Mackerel
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and mackerel are great dinner options no matter what your health concern.
There is some research that shows a link between lack of omega-3 fatty acids and depression, says Moores.
Omega-3 fatty acids also help prevent heart disease and stroke and may help prevent some cancers. Plus, salmon contains selenium, an important antioxidant mineral. Be sure to choose wild salmon at the grocery store or local fish market, since it contains more omegas than farmed (often called Atlantic) salmon.
Some studies have shown that people who suffer from depression also have lower levels of the antioxidant vitamin E, according to Moores.
So, though oil is high in fat and should be consumed in strict moderation, canola oil is rich in vitamin E. (The USDA recommends consuming no more than 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, of oils each day.) Try substituting canola oil for vegetable oil when you're sautéing that salmon for a healthy dinner.
Recommended Serving Size: Six teaspoons (2 tablespoons), 225 calories
Spinach and Fresh Peas
Dark green vegetables like spinach and peas are high in folate, which may help stabilize your mood because it's needed to help make serotonin. Plus, peas are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Keep in mind that canned peas have diminished nutrients, so try to use fresh or frozen peas whenever you can. For a nutrition boost, add peas to your tuna salad, or build your dinner salad with spinach instead of lettuce.
Also high in folate these low fat, high-protein legumes are a nutritious alternative for people who don't eat meat, and a delicious addition to any diet.
Chickpeas are rich in fiber, iron, and vitamin E.
For a simple snack, combine a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with some minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, and olive or canola oil in your blender or food processor. Add salt, pepper and other spices as you wish. The resulting hummus makes a healthy and hearty vegetable dip.
Chicken and turkey are both rich in vitamin B6, which plays a role in serotonin production in the body. They are both a good source of selenium and other vitamins and minerals, too. Remember, eating chicken with the skin increases the fat content considerably.
Reduce your risk of getting cancer by packing your diet with these powerful fruits and vegetables.
Foods with Lycopene
Cancer is the nation's second leading cause of death, and every day it seems we learn about a new risk factor or something we need to stop doing or avoid to reduce our chances of getting this deadly disease.
But the good news is that eating the right foods can help you protect yourself against cancer. Sharon Saka, a registered dietitian in Suffern, New York, says a diet rich in fiber, vegetables, and fruits, including juices made from 100 percent fruit juice, can make a big difference in your cancer risk. Add 30 minutes of moderate activity five or more days a week and you'll reduce your cancer risk even more.
So which foods should you eat? Look for foods with phytochemicals, says Saka, which are found in beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale. Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens are packed with fiber, lutein, and carotenoids, all cancer-fighting substances. Foods rich in the vitamins C, E, and A, all antioxidants themselves, can protect you from cancer by preventing the growth of free radicals in your body, so stock up on oranges, avocadoes, and apricots!
Here are 12 superfoods you can add to your daily diet to reduce your risk of cancer.
This fruit/vegetable is the epitome of a cancer-fighting superfoods. Not only do tomatoes contain lycopene, the antioxidant phytochemical that also helps prevent heart disease, but they're a good source of vitamins A, C, and E -- all enemies of cancer-friendly free radicals.
Pile tomatoes, spinach, and peppers on top of ready-made pizza dough and top with tomato sauce and part-skim mozzarella. Pop some cherry tomatoes into your romaine lettuce salad. Stuff your sandwiches with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts or shredded broccoli. However you do it, find a way to add tomatoes to your daily diet.
Watermelon also contains lycopene, the famous cancer-fighting substance found in tomatoes. Plus, recent studies show that eating more fruits and vegetables leads to a lower risk of lung, oral, esophageal, and colon cancer.
Sides & Snacks - Cabbage and
Carrots - Coleslaw
Carrots are a wonderful source of fiber and beta carotene, and they have a whopping 308 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Combine shredded cabbage and carrots with your favorite low-fat mayonnaise and some red wine vinegar for a delicious side to any meal.
Pasta, Bean & Broccoli Salad
Did you know that one-quarter cup of kidney beans has the same amount of fiber and protein as two ounces of red meat?
Whole wheat pasta is also a good source of fiber, and broccoli will tip the daily scales for your daily vitamin A and C needs. Toss them all together with your favorite low-fat Italian dressing for a simple dinner of cancer-fighting proportions.
Finger Snacks: Peppers, Dried Apricots, Sunflower Seeds
If cigarettes are cancer sticks, then chopped peppers are anticancer sticks. They're packed with all the nutrients you need to reduce your cancer risk: lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
Dried apricots are rich in beta-carotene, and they're perfect for storing in your desk at work as an alternative to the vending machine's fatty snacks. If you're craving a little salt, try a handful of sunflower seeds, which contain selenium, an infamous cancer nemesis.
Blueberries and Strawberries
Both blueberries and strawberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber. Plus they just taste darn good. Add some to your whole grain cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Mix some into your cup of plain yogurt, or top off your ice cream with a handful.
Which foods to eat for your busy life, and which foods to avoid when you're overwhelmed.
You're overwhelmed, overtired, and in desperate need of some mental and physical nourishment. You're stressed. What can you do beyond throwing in the towel and hiding under the covers? Thankfully, you can relieve stress by eating certain foods and avoiding others.
Tara Geise, a registered dietitian (RD) in private practice in Orlando, Florida, and a spokesperson for American Dietetic Association says, "One of the keys is avoiding things that will give your body and mind real highs and lows like caffeine and alcohol. You don't want to intake a lot of stimulants or a lot of depressants when you're stressed." Geise also recommends skipping that sugary snack you crave when the stress builds up. "Sugar causes your blood sugar to spike and then fall quickly, which can make your energy level dip," says Geise. "Then you're low energy and stressed and that's not a good picture."
Not to worry -- there are many foods you can eat that will help with your stress levels.
This green veggie is high in folic acid, which can help stabilize your mood. "When you're stressed, your body releases hormones that affect your mood," says Geise. "Eating certain vitamins and minerals like folic acid and B vitamins can help keep your mood steady because they're needed to make serotonin, which is a chemical that directly affects mood in a positive way."
Even though beef often gets a bad rap, it's a great dinner option for a stressed-out family. Beef contains high levels of zinc, iron, and B vitamins, which are also known to help stabilize your mood. "People think they should stay away from beef, but it's very nutrient rich, even compared to chicken," says Geise. Ask your grocery store butcher for a lean cut if you're concerned about fat content.
Milk is high in antioxidants and vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium. Have a bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk in the morning to start your day with a stress-fighting breakfast.
Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Cottage cheese is high in protein and calcium. "Foods with high protein content that aren't loaded with sugar won't cause a spike in blood sugar and will keep you satiated for a longer time," says Geise.
Try mixing the cottage cheese with a fruit that is high in vitamin C like oranges. Vitamin C plays a role in fighting stress because it's an antioxidant that fights the free radicals that get released when you're stressed. These free radicals have been shown to cause cancer.
Are you ever looking for something you can really dig your teeth into when you're stressed? Try crunching on almonds to get some aggression out. A good source of Vitamin B2 and E, as well as magnesium and zinc, almonds are high in fat, but most of the fat is unsaturated. Like vitamin C, vitamin E has been shown to fight the free radicals associated with stress, and in particular, those free radicals that cause heart disease.
Very rich in antioxidants, blueberries offer a high-fiber, low-calorie fruit option that is also rich in stress-fighting vitamin C. Try them with cottage cheese or as a snack on their own.
A great lunch option, tuna is high in stress-fighting vitamins B6 and B12. Tuna is also a good low-fat protein source. "Don't load tuna down with fat by using a lot of mayonnaise," cautions Geise. "Choose a light mayo instead."
Cornflakes or Crispy Rice Cereal
These nutritious foods will satisfy your appetite and help you get to your ideal weight.
So many of us carry around an extra five or 10 pounds that we'd really rather not have. Though fad diets may help us lose weight quickly, they don't teach us how to eat healthy for the long-term. So before we know it we're carrying around saddlebags again.
Lisa Sasson, of New York University's Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, says you can achieve successful weight loss by choosing the right foods and taking it slowly.
The ideal program is a gradual weight loss of one to two pounds per week. How many calories is that? Sasson says multiplying 10 times your current weight will give you an idea of the number of calories you need for slow, proper weight loss, unless you are severely overweight. Someone who weighs 128 pounds should eat no less than 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day. Below that, your metabolic rate drops, and you lose water rather than fat.
Sasson says the key to weight loss is a balanced approach.
Eat when you're hungry and vary what you eat so you don't get bored. Make sure you include foods from all the major food groups.
Have three healthy meals and a few planned snacks, and watch your portions. Choose foods that are easy to find and prepare.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will fill you up with fewer calories. Eat slowly and stop when you start to feel full. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and with meals. And finally, allow yourself an occasional treat.
Here are some suggestions from Sasson for meals and snacks that are loaded with the nutrients your body needs and that will keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Scrambled Eggs, Toast, and Strawberries
Fasting or skipping meals does not lead to successful, long-term weight loss. A healthy breakfast gets your body going, boosts your metabolism, and helps to regulate your appetite for the rest of the day. So scramble a few eggs, which are a great source of protein, vitamins A, B2, and B12, phosphorus, and iron.
Add some whole wheat toast and fresh strawberries for fiber, plus almost 150 percent of the RDA for vitamin C in the berries. Using a little bit of butter or margarine on the toast or for cooking the eggs will help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Nectarines and Almonds
Having the right midmorning snack will keep your metabolism humming and your energy levels up, and will help you avoid eating too much at lunch out of extreme hunger.
A medium nectarine along with some almonds gives you fiber, protein, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and heart-healthy fat.
Colorful Spinach, Veggie, and Chicken Salad
Throw together a spinach salad with cucumbers, carrots, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and some cooked chicken breast.
Top it with an olive-oil-based vinaigrette dressing for a low-fat, low-cal, and filling lunch. Vitamin- and mineral-rich spinach provides over 50 percent of your RDA for vitamin A, plus dietary fiber and iron.
As a rule, colorful vegetables are more nutritious, and this combination is rich in fiber, tons of vitamins. and the phytochemicals that may help prevent chronic disease. Finally, the protein in the chicken will keep you full until your midday snack.
Yogurt and Grapes Snack
You'll get calcium, protein, fiber, and vitamin C from this super snack. Plus, grapes pack cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Tuna Steak and Broccoli
This dinner will satisfy your taste buds and fill you up without adding on the calories.
Fresh tuna is a great source of heart-healthy fat and omega-3 fatty acid, which helps prevent heart disease and stroke.
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, gives you over 80 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 30 percent of your daily calcium, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. A side dish of Spanish rice is an excellent complement to the fish.
Low-Fat Vanilla Ice Cream with Fruit Topping
Don't deprive yourself of that tasty dessert you crave. This one is refreshing and satisfying but is also a source of calcium, as well as some vitamins and minerals. Just remember to watch your portion size.
Healthy foods you should eat to build your bone density, satisfy your fiber needs, and keep you fit in your 60s.
It's All About Fiber • Fruits and Veggies
Choosing foods that are nutrient dense is essential at this stage of your life.
"Since your metabolism is slowing down, you really want to choose foods that will give you the most bang for your buck and avoid the ones that contain empty calories," says registered dietitian Lynn Grieger RD, CDE.
Here, Grieger and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, offer their picks for the best foods that you can eat to keep you feeling vibrant and healthy in your 60s.
A great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed has been shown in studies to lower cholesterol levels. Grieger recommends buying ground flaxseeds in order to ensure you are getting the benefits of their oils. Sprinkle over cold and hot cereals or blend into a smoothie.
These nuts contain vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium -- essential for bone density. "People really don't get as much magnesium as they should, so eating almonds is an easy way to get your daily requirement," says Grieger.
Did you know that a woman's risk of heart disease rises to the same level as a man's after she has experienced menopause?
That's why, Grieger says, "It's really important to watch your cholesterol levels at this age." The fiber in plain oatmeal can help lower your level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol.
Fruits and Veggies
The large amount of antioxidants, fiber, and potassium make this fruit a super-healthy choice. The carotenoids found in mangoes can help to prevent age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss in older people.
Give your metabolism a boost with these super-high-fiber fruits.
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in our country, and the incidence increases in those over 60 years old. "Dried plums can really help with digestion," says Bissex. "I recommend them highly."
Research shows that the antioxidant lycopene, found in tomatoes, can decrease your risk of getting several forms of cancer including, breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate. And interestingly, canned tomatoes provide significantly more lycopene than fresh tomatoes. "They are very health enhancing," says Bissex. "You don't have to feel guilty eating pizza or pasta. Just be sure to add veggies!"
What to eat to prevent osteoporosis, alleviate menopause symptoms, and stay healthy in your 50s.
Including these five superfoods in your diet can help to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause, maintain your memory power, and prevent osteoporosis. Selected by registered dietitians Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, these superfoods are delicious to eat, easy to prepare, and super-good for you!
An alternative protein source to meat, tofu and other soy products can be beneficial for lowering your cholesterol and preventing heart disease. Soy products like tofu may also decrease the side effects associated with menopause, says Grieger.
Containing a whopping 19 grams of fiber per cup, navy beans top Grieger's list of superfoods. Studies show that fiber can help reduce your risk of colon and other forms of cancer, as well as diverticulosis. "Women need 30 grams of fiber per day, so these beans are an excellent source," says Grieger. Include them in chili, or cook them as a side dish instead of pasta or rice for a simple nutritious boost -- and an extra serving of vegetables!
If you find yourself forgetting things lately, you may want to add some blueberries to your diet. New studies show that these fruits may actually help with short-term memory loss. More good news: "They are off the charts with antioxidants!" says Bissex. Top blueberries on plain yogurt for a quick superfoods breakfast or snack.
Additionally, yogurt contains high amounts of good bacteria such as acidophilus, which helps to prevent yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
Avocado contains antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which can help to protect your vision and skin. The monounsaturated fat found in avocados has also been shown to improve the condition of hair and skin. "Women shouldn't be afraid to eat avocados because they think they are fattening. They have tremendous health benefits!" says Bissex. Slice up a ripe avocado for your turkey sandwich, or the ever-satisfying guacamole and chips.
Foods to help you think and see better, and lower your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Keep your body and mind feeling young and healthy with these seven superfoods selected by registered dietitians Lynn Grieger RD, CDE, and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD.
Packed with nutrition, these foods will also help lower your risk of getting osteoporosis, heart disease, and other conditions that become a factor in your 40s and beyond.
Filled with omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have been shown to help protect against heart disease. Grieger chooses walnuts because, "they are a quick high-protein snack that doesn't contain saturated fats."
Whole Grain Cereal
Plus, says Grieger, "Eating breakfast is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It gives you energy and boosts your metabolism, helping you to lose weight."
Choosing a whole grain breakfast cereal that is fortified with all of your vitamins and minerals could also eliminate your need for vitamin supplements. Which cereal tops Grieger's list? Total.
Add some strawberries, blueberries, or even a tablespoon of raisins for a tasty bonus.
Meat has made a comeback in recent years, thanks to Atkins and other low-carb diets.
In addition to being high in protein, beef is one of the few food sources loaded with zinc.
Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, for helping to heal your body faster, and for slowing down the signs of aging. "Most women don't think that they should be eating red meat, but they can receive the benefits of it by consuming just a small amount," says Grieger.
If you find yourself squinting at the computer screen a little more than you used to, you may be experiencing one of the more subtle signs of aging: age-related degeneration of the eye.
You can help protect your vision by consuming the antioxidant lutein.
Kiwis contain large amounts of this antioxidant, as well as vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. "There is a powerhouse of nutrition in just one cute little kiwi," says Bissex. Grilled chicken, avocado, and kiwi served over a bed of greens makes a tropical salad entree that is low in fat and high in flavor.
New research shows that foods containing antioxidants enhance memory, which makes spinach the perfect brain booster for those days when it feels like you left your mind at home.
Plus, spinach contains iron, folate, and vitamin K, all of which are essential for blood clotting and bone health.
For a quick side dish, saute some baby spinach in a large non-stick pan with a little garlic and olive oil until it wilts. Or build your salad on top of spinach instead of lettuce.
Beans and Legumes
Loaded with calcium, fiber, and antioxidants, beans are the "definitive superfoods," says Bissex. They moderate blood sugars and lower cholesterol. Pack your diet with dark beans since they tend to contain more antioxidants and other nutrients than lighter varieties.
What to eat to stay healthy, fertile, and disease-free in your 30s.
If you're planning to get pregnant, already have children, or just want to stay in shape, filling your body with nutritious foods is one of the best things you can do to give yourself much-needed energy and to ensure good health for many years to come.
And eating right doesn't have to cost a lot of money or time. Registered dietitians Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, suggest their top picks for quick and nutritious foods that are just right for you.
If you are pregnant, you'll want to make sure to eat foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, suggests Bissex.
These nutrients are vital for your baby's brain development. According to the United States Food & Drug Administration, pregnant and nursing women as well as young children should avoid high mercury fish such as swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark.
Wild salmon is considered a low mercury fish, making it a good choice for an expecting woman to consume. Grilled or broiled salmon on a bed of spinach, which has lots of iron, calcium, and folate, makes the perfect pregnancy power meal.
Milk -- 1% Low-Fat
Did you know that your body's bone mass peaks by age 35?
Including calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as milk, is essential for your body's bone density and the time to worry about bone density is now. Most women need 1,000 to 1,200mg of calcium per day, but we often fall short of that requirement, which increases our risk for getting osteoporosis.
"Women really need to do all they can to maintain their bone mass as they age," says Bissex. She recommends consuming calcium-rich foods, such as milk, to ensure a healthy pregnancy and proper lactation.
Low-fat 1% milk is an ideal source because it's low in fat and contains vitamin D, which significantly increases your body's ability to absorb calcium. Plus, research shows that women who consume three to four servings of dairy products every day are more successful at losing weight. So drink up!
One of the fastest and easiest ways to get your daily requirement of iron is to include fortified cereals in your diet. "It is important to get an adequate iron intake to avoid iron-deficiency anemia," says Bissex.
Plus, the need for iron goes up considerably when you are pregnant. Iron-deficiency anemia can cause weakness, fatigue, inability to pay attention, reduced resistance to cold temperatures, and inability to regulate body temperature adequately, according to Grieger. A bowl of cereal with 1% low-fat milk topped with antioxidant-rich blueberries is the perfect way for any mom-to-be to start her day!
Decaffeinated Green Tea
If you are looking for a healthier alternative to your morning coffee, why not try a soothing cup of decaffeinated green tea?
Loaded with antioxidants, research suggests that it can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, and may boost your metabolism as well, according to Grieger.
Choose an organic brand and drink it hot or cold. Though beverage companies are now making varieties of iced green teas, make sure to choose one that does not contain a high amount of fructose or corn syrup. These processed sugars only add empty calories, and may outweigh the benefits of green tea.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, kale, and mustard greens - "these are the super-veggies that nutritionists are always raving about because they are jam-packed with antioxidants, fiber, and iron," says Grieger.
Add flavor to these vegetables without losing their nutritional value by steaming them. Lightly top with garlic and olive oil, or a lemon-mustard-butter sauce.
Healthy foods to help you stay fit, maintain your weight, prevent diseases and conditions, and get your body ready for pregnancy.
Staying fit and managing your weight start to be preoccupations in your 20s, along with getting your body ready for pregnancy and childbirth.
Meanwhile, preventing osteoporosis, hypertension, and heart disease are probably not at the top of your priority list. But did you know that what you eat now can help lower your risk of getting those health problems later? Registered dietitians Lisa Goldberg, RD, MS, CDN, and Lynn Grieger RD, CDE, suggest their top picks for maintaining your overall health in your 20s, plus the best pre-pregnancy foods you can eat to prepare your body for baby.
Did you know that your body's bone mass peaks by age 35? Including calcium-rich foods such as milk in your diet is essential for your body's bone density. While most women need 1,000 to 1,200mg of calcium per day, we often fall short of that requirement, which increases our risk for getting osteoporosis.
"Women don't really worry about osteoporosis until they're in their 50s or 60s, but it's actually in their 20s when they can really do something to prevent it," says Grieger. Skim milk is a great source for your daily requirement of calcium because it is low in fat and contains vitamin D, which significantly increases your body's ability to absorb this essential mineral.
Plain Low fat Yogurt
Goldberg chooses yogurt, another rich source of calcium, because it helps to increase your body's bone density and to maintain strong teeth. "When you are in your 20's, you don't think about when you are going to lose your teeth, but loading up on calcium now can help prevent dental problems later," says Goldberg.
"Studies also show that calcium may lower your risk of heart disease and hypertension. Plus, there is evidence that links calcium to weight loss," she adds. Goldberg also likes yogurt because it contains acidophilus, which promotes a healthy gastro-intestinal system and helps keep yeast infections in check.
Protein, Iron, Vitamin C
Meat has made a comeback in recent years, thanks to Atkins and other low-carb diets. In addition to being high in protein, it is loaded with iron.
"Iron-deficient anemia is very prevalent among women in their 20s," says Grieger, "It can cause weakness, fatigue, inability to pay attention, reduced resistance to cold temperatures, and inability to regulate body temperature adequately.
Plus, the need for iron goes up considerably during pregnancy." Eating meat is one of the easiest ways to get enough iron into your system. Stick to the leanest cuts of meat (hint: choose anything with the word loin in it, such as "sirloin") to ensure that you get plenty of iron and protein, without excessive amounts of fat.
A thinly sliced steak on a bed of greens with balsamic dressing makes a delicious low-carb, iron- and protein-rich lunch or dinner option.
An excellent source of vegetable protein, fiber, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron, beans are beneficial for any age group.
But their high concentration of folic acid, especially in lentils, makes them particularly good for women who plan to become pregnant or who are currently expecting.
Studies show that including folic acid in a woman's diet, even before she conceives, significantly reduces the risk of neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Goldberg suggests using dried beans instead of the canned varieties, which often contain high amounts of sodium and fat.
If you're craving something sweet, pass on the cookies and grab a handful of strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, or raspberries instead.
These nutrient-rich fruits are loaded with fiber and vitamin C. "I recommend berries to my clients because they are a low-glycemic index food, which means that they will satisfy a sugar-craving without the surge of insulin," says Goldberg.
An added bonus to these superfoods: Studies show that certain varieties, especially cranberries, can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI). Layer plain yogurt, berries, and low-fat granola for a healthy Superfoods Sundae!
These snacks and simple suppers are packed with nutrients to help active teens stay energized -- and to help them start preventing disease now.
Teen Nutritional Guidelines
Teenagers are notorious for their terrible eating habits. They typically eat only what tastes good or what's within reach. Since their bodies are still growing and developing, good nutrition during the teen years is crucial to preventing diseases like cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Preparing healthy meals at home will help teens set good eating habits that will follow them throughout their lives.
"The foods moms make at home have to be full of super nutrition," says Janice Newell Bissex, author of The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers (Broadway Books, 2004).
Superfoods - foods that are loaded with powerful nutrients; are the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals they need.
What Teens Need
More than any other age group, teens need a lot of energy. Energy comes from calories and on a daily basis, teenage boys need about 2,500 to 3,000; teenage girls need about 2,200 calories.
The good news is that most teens have no problem acquiring them. But parents should note how the calories are being consumed.
A bag of potato chips with a 44-ounce Big Gulp will add calories quickly, but fatty snacks and sugary soda drinks contain very little nutrients. So obviously this typical teenage meal will contribute only to weight gain, and not to your teen's overall health.
Calcium and iron are two essential nutrients for teens because they help build strong bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Teen athletes especially need calcium for maintaining muscle tissue and a regular heart beat. Iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body, giving kids energy. Signs of weakness and fatigue usually translate to a shortage of iron in the diet.
Teenage girls are especially concerned about body image, so they tend to avoid fatty items like dairy products. Bissex says they are hurting themselves in the long run by doing this. "Teen girls are missing out on good fats like omega-3 and monounsaturated fats," she says. Omega-3 fat is good for healthy skin, hair, and the immune system. It's also been shown to reduce depression.
Of course, the most important thing to remember in preparing food is taste. "Taste is number one," says Bissex. "You can have the healthiest food in the world but if it doesn't taste good, then nobody will eat it."
Here are 17 superfoods - teen-taste bud approved - that should be added to every teen diet to help them get all the vitamins and minerals they need for their active lifestyle.
9 Superfoods Snacks
To a teen, there is no such thing as snack time. Snacks are fair game any time, any place. There is nothing terribly wrong with snacking now and then, says Bissex.
She says it's okay for teens to eat as much as six times a day, and three of those times can be for snacking. The following snacks are great for breakfast, lunch, and after school, or for teens who are always on the go.
Avocado and Tomato Guacamole with Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Celery
Most veggies have virtually no calories but plenty of nutrients. A couple of carrots a day will not only provide double your teen's daily beta-carotene requirements, but it'll also lower his cholesterol.
Like broccoli, it will reduce the risks of cancers like lung, throat, stomach, prostate, and breast cancer. Celery lowers blood pressure and cauliflower adds cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
Add flavor to these crudités by dipping them in homemade avocado and tomato guacamole for an appetizing snack. Avocado is an excellent source of vitamin E along with many other vitamins and minerals.
Granola Bar with a Glass of Skim Milk
Granola bars are a solution to the no-time-for-breakfast excuse. Some form of breakfast will help kids be more attentive and therefore do better in school and excel in sports, as well as prevent them from hitting the vending machines right after homeroom.
Add a glass of skim milk for a fat-free calcium boost -- a quarter of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
The nuts, dried fruit, and seeds in granola bars make them high in fiber and omega-3 fats and an excellent source of energy. It's wise to avoid granola that is high in saturated fats.
Frozen Yogurt with Cashews and Walnuts
Plain low-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium; an eight-ounce cup fulfills 45 percent of the RDA and has protein for the immune system.
Low-fat or nonfat frozen yogurt might not have all the benefits of regular yogurt, but it tastes great and it's a much better alternative than ice cream.
If your kids like nuts, sprinkle on some cashews and walnuts. Most nuts contain high amounts of iron, zinc, and magnesium and the fat is mostly unsaturated. It's good to eat fresh, plain nuts, not salted.
Mangoes and Grapes
While your teen is on the computer, playing video games, or watching television, slide a bowl of freshly sliced mangoes and some firm grapes in her direction. It'll keep her out of the kitchen for sodas and chips until dinnertime.
This delicious tropical fruit provides 150 percent of the RDA for the cancer-fighting nutrient beta-carotene. It's loaded with fiber and potassium. Plus it'll fulfill a day's requirement of vitamin C. Grapes help reduce heart disease.
Kids tend to experiment with vegetarianism in their teenage years. But that doesn't mean you need to worry about them missing the nutrients found in meat or fish. "You can eat as a vegetarian and eat a very healthy diet," says Bissex.
Hummus; a chickpea puree, is a common vegetarian spread with lots of iron and magnesium. Spread some on whole wheat pita bread (for fiber) and it'll make a satisfying snack or lunchtime food.
Peanut butter, like peanuts, is high in fat and calories. But the good news is that the fat is unsaturated and your kids need a lot of calories anyway. Plus peanut butter is packed with iron. Sandwich peanut butter between some graham crackers and add slices of apples for a satisfying after-school snack.
3 Simple Superfoods Meals
Soon your teen will be preparing meals for himself. Before he graduates from high school, teach him how to prepare these healthy meals. Bissex says that showing your teens a healthy eating style will likely help them maintain the habit. "If you've established it early in life, teens will first veer off a little, but they'll come back to those healthy eating habits," she says.
Grilled Salmon Salad with Spinach
Studies have shown that one weekly portion of fish can help prevent heart attacks in later years. Salmon is a good fish to get your teen hooked on because it contains heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Along with its disease-fighting capabilities, omega-3 helps reduce the risk of depression and minimizes arthritis symptoms.
Instead of tossing chicken into a salad, try it with salmon. When making salads, the general rule is the darker the green, whether it's lettuce or spinach, the better. One cup of romaine lettuce provides 20 percent of the RDA of beta-carotene. You would have to eat a whole head of iceberg lettuce to get the same amount.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Garlic Bread
Even though carbohydrates are a big no-no these days, teens still need them. And face it, they love carbs, especially pasta-addicted college kids. Get in the habit of buying whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta. It has twice as much iron, more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than regular pasta.
Pasta is best topped with fresh tomato sauce. Tomatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamins C, and E, and they're rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Lycopene is actually more rich in a tomato sauce than it is in raw tomatoes. For added flavor, mix some garlic into the sauce or add some to toasted bread. Garlic lowers blood cholesterol and prevents clotting.
Steamed Broccoli and Quinoa
Broccoli -- more than anything -- is a disease fighter. It contains compounds like beta-carotene that fight cancer and reduce tumor growth, especially in the breast. One spear of broccoli will give you plenty of calcium, fiber, and potassium, and twice the RDA of vitamin C.
Serve steamed broccoli with quinoa, a low-fat, high-fiber substitute for rice. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) looks and tastes like grain, but it's a seed that can be found in the grain section of your local supermarket. Quinoa is an excellent source of iron, potassium, vitamin B, and especially protein. In fact, the World Health Organization has stated that the quality of protein in quinoa matches that of milk.
11 Super Snack Foods
Healthy snack ideas for your hungry stomach.
For many of us, snack time is when we lose control of our diets, either by overeating, or by indulging in high-fat, high-calorie foods.
This often happens because we allow ourselves to get too hungry and then are unable to stop ourselves from overeating, says Dee Sandquist, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and manager of the Nutrition and Diabetes Center at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.
To avoid getting too hungry, Sandquist says she recommends always carrying a healthy, portable snack with you when you know you'll be out on the run without easy access to healthy food choices.
Try getting at least two food groups in each of those snacks so that you're getting a combination of carbohydrates and fat/protein, which will help keep you satiated longer, she adds. Here, some super snack food ideas:
Plain Yogurt with Blueberries
Pair plain yogurt with blueberries for a sweet treat that has a similar texture to ice cream. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein, and blueberries are packed with valuable antioxidants that help fight off heart disease. If fresh blueberries aren't in season, try frozen instead -- they work great in cool, creamy yogurt. Or if you get bored with blueberries, substitute any other frozen fruit like cranberries or cherries.
Banana with Almond Butter
This combination will keep you satiated for a longer time than either on their own because of the combination of fiber in the banana and protein and fat in the almond butter. Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps and is essential for normal brain function. Of course, peanut butter would be a great substitute for almond butter.
Hummus with Pita Bread
Made from chickpeas, hummus provides protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Spread hummus on pita bread for some added carbohydrates. Also try putting some veggies on your bread to make a great sandwich.
Apple with Brie Cheese
Salsa with Baked Tortilla Chips
Ingredients in salsa vary greatly, but most tomato-based vegetable salsas are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease and some cancers. Avoid high-calorie fried chips by purchasing the baked varieties instead, and be sure to look for varieties that list zero trans fats on their nutrition labels.
Light Microwave Popcorn
Although this is a single-food snack, Sandquist says she recommends it because of its high fiber and B vitamin content. Plus, who can resist the smell of popcorn?
If you're searching for simple ways to spice up your sex life, try looking in the refrigerator.
"We can create a sexual essence with our partners across the table with food," says Gail Frank, registered dietitian, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and professor on nutrition at California State University in Long Beach.
"Eating is a process of entering into the body and feeling joyful and fulfilled. It's sexual."
Beyond the taste of the food, the color, shape, feel, and consistency can also make a food sexy.
In addition, certain foods contain substances that make us feel good by interacting with our hormones or stimulating our brain, says Frank.
Here, a list of foods to incorporate into your romantic meal plans to help you and your partner get in the mood.
These decadent shellfish have components that help with the buildup of sexual hormones, says Frank.
A good source of minerals like selenium and zinc, oysters are also high in protein. Try serving them for an appetizer during a romantic dinner.
Frank cautions that when buying oysters, you have to be careful to consider what waters the oysters are from, as some can be high in PCB levels or other pollutant chemicals. Pregnant women should also avoid oysters.
Chocolate has been a symbol of love and lust for centuries. Why? It contains theobromine, which is a stimulant to the brain that creates a pleasurable effect.
Chocolate also contains antioxidants that may lower cancer and heart disease risk. Of course, chocolate is also very high in fat and must be consumed in moderation.
Opt for dark chocolate because it contains less sugar, has a higher antioxidant potential, and a higher amount of theobromine than milk chocolate.
Papaya and Kiwi
These colorful fruits have an alluring and interesting aspect about them that can help turn you on, says Frank. "They feel really good on your tongue and are sweet and juicy," she adds.
Tropical fruits are also packed with antioxidants to help ward off heart disease and cancer.
Kiwi is richer in vitamin C than oranges, and papaya is rich in beta-carotene and soluble fiber. Try dipping these fruits into some melted dark chocolate for an erotic dessert.
They don't call it a honeymoon for nothing. This sweet syrup was used by medieval seducers to ply their partners and lovers on their honeymoon.
Mixed into a drink, honey drink was thought to sweeten their marriage. However, honey has a high glycemic index and lacks nutrients, so, though it's slightly better than sugar, it's a good idea to consume it in moderation.
Who knew asparagus could be sexy? But feeding yourself or your partner phallic-shaped asparagus can create sexual atmosphere, says Frank. Plus, asparagus is also one of the few good sources of vitamin E and it's a natural diuretic. Try steaming them and eating them with your fingers.
A good dose of caffeine though a cup of coffee or tea can help get you going in the bedroom, says Frank.
Caffeine causes the release of epinephrine, which contributes to stimulation in the body. Small amounts of caffeine are also found in chocolate.
But, beware -- too much caffeine before bedtime can keep you awake long after the fun has ended.
The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer . The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions
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