National Nutrition Month: Superfoods and You - Lexington VA Health Care System
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Lexington VA Health Care System

 

National Nutrition Month: Superfoods and You

March is National Nutrition Month and the first day of spring is in March. With warmer weather on its way, many people use this time to shed the winter pounds they have gained. Besides exercise, including superfoods in your diet can help you get to and maintain a healthy weight.

"The term 'superfood' refers to various food items that provide a lot of vital bodily nutrients including berries, fatty fish, greens, legumes, and nuts," reports Emma Metcalf, MSN, RN, Medical Center Director. Superfoods are generally low in fat and cholesterol. Superfoods are known to reduce cholesterol and weight overall as they are generally low-calorie, whole foods. They also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer due to their high antioxidant content. Many believe that eating more superfoods puts a person in a better mood and boosts energy levels.

According to Metcalf superfoods that are nutrient dense and provide a variety of health benefits include dark-colored fruits such as red grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Dark, leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli, and collard greens are high in antioxidants, as are orange-colored vegetables, such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

"Superfoods also include tomatoes, apples, blueberries, avocados, and spinach," says Metcalf. "Some other superfoods are salmon, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and honey."

Here are a few superfoods to try in your next salad or smoothie.

Jicama - This slightly sweet and crunchy root vegetable has insulin, a belly-busting fiber that acts as a prebiotic. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C, which may boost collagen and fight wrinkles. You can eat it cooked or raw in salads, slaw, tacos, and stir-fry.

Chia - Did you know that one tablespoon of chia seeds has as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal? Chia also has bone-building calcium and heart-healthy omega-3s. Try these nutty-tasting edible seeds on cereal, salads, and in soups.

Kale - This popular superfood has a high nutrient content. It contains 45 different flavonoids as well as lutein and beta-carotene. The high fiber content in kale helps reduce cholesterol, while omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce inflammation.

Goji berries - The plants that goji berries come from are native to Asia. They are members of the nightshade family, along with eggplants, tomatoes, and tobacco. The berries are also commonly known as wolfberries. Goji berries have a long history of use in Chinese cuisine, and there is anecdotal evidence for a wide range of health benefits in traditional Chinese medicine.

For more information about superfoods and their benefits, talk with your dietitian today.