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The 8 Powerhouse Foods You Should Be Eating

Mar 6, 2012

These 8 powerhouse foods are filled with nutrients that are very beneficial for your body. Consider adding these foods to your diet to assist in weight loss and add antioxidants, fiber, and omega 3's - just to name a few benefits.

1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy. These vegetables all have compound called glucosinolates which have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, according to a 2005 article from Pennington Nutrition Series. They have also been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the body.

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These vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, folic acid, and magnesium. Add cruciferous vegetables to stir-fries, casseroles, soups, and vegetable platters. Take care not to overcook them as they release a sulfurous compound when overcooked.

2. Red Beans

Small red beans look like a smaller version of the kidney bean, and it is used commonly in the traditional Latin dish of red beans and rice. This small bean was ranked the highest in antioxidant amount according to a 2004 study by the USDA. Antioxidants may help decrease stress in the body and help prevent many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer. and Alzheimer's disease. Incorporate a variety of antioxidant rich foods such as beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables into your diet for the maximum benefit from these foods.

3. Cherries

One major health benefit from cherries is their ability to help reduce inflammation in the body. A 2006 study from The Journal of Nutrition suggests that consuming Bing cherries may reduce certain inflammatory markers in the body. Subjects in this study consumed 280 gm of cherries per day for 28 days and blood samples were compared with subjects who did not eat Bing cherries. Cherries are high in a compound called anthocyanins, which is what gives them their bright red color. Anthocyanins are an antioxidant that has been shown to potentially provide certain health benefits with reducing inflammation and possibly lowering risk of certain diseases. Enjoy cherries fresh, frozen, or dried to add these touted health benefits to your diet.

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4. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have been around since the ancient Mayan and Aztec times. These tiny seeds have gotten a lot of publicity in recent years as being a nutrition power house. They are naturally high in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. In fact, chia seeds are among the highest plant sources of omega 3 acids. The fiber in chia seeds is mainly soluble fiber, and when added with a liquid, will expand and absorb the fluid. This may have some benefit for helping you feel fuller longer and reducing hunger. Add 1-2 tbsp. of chia seeds in yogurt, smoothies, water or juice, baked goods, dips, etc.

5. Avocado

Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, potassium and folate. The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in fruits and vegetables and up to 30% calories from mainly unsaturated fat. Choose avocados in place of fats high in saturated fats like butter and cheese. Since avocados are high in fat, they are higher in calories. Eat avocados in moderation; a 2 tbsp serving provides about 50 calories and 3 gm of monounsaturated fat. Add avocados to salads, spreads, dips, toast, egg dishes, etc.

6. Pistachios

A 1 oz serving of pistachios (about 49 nuts) provides around 3 gm fiber, 6 gm protein, good source of vitamin B6, thiamin, magnesium, copper, and more - all for less than 200 calories. Pistachios are also provide a high amount of antioxidants, and they may contribute to lowering cholesterol.

7. Seaweed

Seaweed is commonly consumed in Japanese traditional culture. Seaweed provides a rich source for iron, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and iodine. Seaweed provides a rich source of minerals that can typically be lacking in a standard western diet. Dried seaweed can be sprinkled onto salads, eaten as a snack, or added to dishes such as sushi or miso soup. Seaweed can come in different varieties and colors, dried or wet.

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8. Pumpkin

Pumpkin gets its rich, orange color from beta carotene. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which helps heal the body from infections and enhance eye sight and gene transcription. Pumpkin is full of this antioxidant compound, as well as being low in calories and high in fiber, potassium, and many other nutrients. You can incorporate pumpkin into your diet easily by using canned pumpkin. Make sure it is 100% pure pumpkin and does not have any added fillers. Add pumpkin to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, baked goods, chili, etc.

Holly Klamer is a Registered Dietitian and personal trainer in Colorado. She received her undergraduate degree with a double major in Dietetics and Health Fitness from Central Michigan University. She then went to Colorado State University for her Master's degree in Human Nutrition emphasizing in Exercise Science. There she completed her dietetic internship to be a Registered Dietitian and was a teaching assistant in the nutrition department. Holly loves to travel, be outside, run, road bike and hike. She ran cross country and track in college and still enjoys competing in long distance running. Her passions are in sports nutrition, disordered eating, teaching others how to eat healthy on a limited budget, worksite wellness, weight loss and food allergies. She enjoys public speaking for various nutrition topics especially to young athletes, writing nutrition education material, and individual counseling. Holly has a passion to help people reach their goals of health and improve athletic performance. She currently works as a personal trainer, sports dietitian and free lance writer for various health websites. To contact Holly, email her at holly.klamer@gmail.com.

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