If you read a lot about food and nutrition, you’ve probably come across articles on “superfoods”. (One of the best resources for more information on the subject is the Food Matters website.) Superfoods are purported to be the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, and while I can’t argue with their nutritional prowess, many of them simply haven’t gone mainstream just yet. Foods like goji berries, maca, spirulina, and barley grass, among others, are available in health food stores and are gaining popularity, but for many of us, they’re not the foods upon which we’re basing our daily diet. By all means, you should find ways to fit them into your meals and snacks where you can, but in this article I’m going to stick to a more basic list of power-packed foods to incorporate into your diet on a regular basis.
Fruits and vegetables
No caveats here. Just eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Every single day. For the rest of your life. Are there some which are more nutrtionally dense than others? Absolutely. But to keep it simple, think about it like this – if it grew
out of the ground, it’s good for you! If you need to prioritize, focus on greens and berries.
High fiber whole grains
This does not mean you should buy packaged goods that have the words “Good source of whole grains” on the front of the box. That, my friends, is often just marketing. Instead, fill your diet with real, unprocessed, high fiber, whole grains. Foods like quinoa, barley, oats, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, even whole wheat pasta are the ones that should make the cut.
Packed with omega-3 (that’s a GOOD kind of fat) and protein, salmon’s health benefits have become widely understood. Choose wild-caught if you can, as the farm-raised varieties can be considerably higher in overall fat and lower in protein than the wild. And that beautiful pink color? In farm raised fish it often is enhanced by dye.
Nuts and seeds
They come from the ground, right? So they make the list of good-for-you foods. Nuts and seeds are calorie dense, though, so if you’re trying to control your weight, you’ll want to exercise caution around portions. 10 almonds have 100 calories. Case in point.
All oils have roughly the same number of calories and grams of fat per tablespoon, but the TYPE of fat varies greatly. For the greatest health benefit, stick with monounsaturated oils like canola, olive, grapeseed, and various nut oils (almond, hazelnut, peanut, etc.). Some of the nut oils have excellent flavor profiles and are terrific in salad dressings or as a finishing drizzle on cooked vegetables.