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10 Super Foods to Help Kick Start Your Diet

By: Laura Peill – (Check out her blog Chronicles of Passion & Facebook)

Part of detoxing and improving your health is eating foods that offer optimal nutritional value and a big bang for your buck in terms of nutrients.

Here’s 10 nutrient rich foods that you should buy on your next grocery trip:  

Greens – You’ve probably heard it before, but I’ll say it again: eat your greens! Whether it’s spinach, kale, chard, collard greens or watercress, all of these green veggies offer fiber, protein, B vitamins, riboflavin, iron and a host of other nutrients to keep your health in top shape. They aid in digestion and help fill you up, while their high levels of chlorophyll encourage healing within your body and help in detox. Not a fan of salads or just a greens pile? It doesn’t have to be boring! Throw them into the blender and make this peach pie smoothie bowl!

Avocado – Actually a fruit, this creamy delight is high in healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fats help us feel fuller longer and aid in digestion, as well as act as insulators for our cells. Having healthy fats in our diet also plays a key role in raising our good fat levels while simultaneously decreasing our levels of bad fats – the ones that contribute to clogged arteries and heart attacks. Healthy fats also help regulate our cholesterol levels and contribute to overall homeostasis in the body.

Almonds – A source of protein and fats, research has shown that one serving of almonds per day (20-25 almonds) can play a key role in helping you lose weight and get your health on track. Just like avocado, almonds contain monunsatruated fat, contributing to the feeling of fullness and curbing our appetite. They also offer fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients, and like most foods high in healthy fats, offer great protection against heart disease and cardiovascular problems.

Blueberries – High in antioxidants, blueberries are a low glycemic fruit, which are low in sugar and do not cause a spike in our blood sugar levels.  Their blue color comes courtesy of the antioxidant plant pigments, and these act to guard against heart disease, memory loss and cancer. Blueberries are also high in vitamin C, so replace your orange juice with some fresh blueberries and you’ll keep your cold and flu at bay! Or better yet, bake some blueberry muffins!

Sweet Potato – These fiber filled veggies are a rock star when it comes to beta carotene. Offering higher levels than carrots, these are good for your eyesight, and also contribute generously to your Vitamin A needs, which plays a role in helping you maintain healthy skin. Furthermore, purple sweet potatoes have also been shown to have unique anti-inflammatory properties and offer high levels of antioxidants. Cook these up to eat for dinner, like in these Loaded Sweet Potato Fries, or use them in baking to offer extra moisture and replace some of the sugar.

Beetroot – You may have heard that you should consume beetroot because it is high in antioxidants. While this is true, the main reason you should consume beetroot is because of it’s ability to provide the body with nitric acid, something few vegetables are able to offer. Nitric acid keeps our blood vessels healthy, and consuming beets and beet juice offers an excellent source of these nitrates to help look after our vessels. Better yet if you’re an athlete, as research as shown the increased nitrates can help widen the blood vessels, thereby offering enhanced performance abilities.

Quinoa – This grain is one of the only grains that offers a complete protein, making it an ideal option for vegans and vegetarians as a plant based protein source. It is a wholegrain, meaning it also contains high levels of fiber and the combination of the protein and fiber help fill you up and prevent you from over-eating. It is naturally gluten free, so it doesn’t play havoc on your digestive system and it is high in a multitude of other nutrients including magnesium, potassium, calcium and B Vitamins. Start replacing your rice and pasta with quinoa and you will reap a lot more health benefits!

Black Eyed Peas – Not only are black-eyed peas an excellent source of plant-based protein, but they also contain resistant starch. You can kind of think of this as food for our gut bacteria, whereby, some of the starches in the beans resist digestion when they are consumed and thereby sit in the gut fermenting. This fermentation yields good bacteria in our gut and offers food for the bacteria already in our stomach. Have them for dinner tonight and make these Black Eyed Pea Teriyaki Bowls!

Brussel Sprouts – This cruciferous vegetable belongs in the same family as kale and cabbage and is most often suggested for consumption to help lower cholesterol levels. Research has also shown however that it has cancer-fighting compounds, which act to protect the DNA and create cancer protective substances. This green veggie is also high in fiber and has very high levels of Vitamin K and Vitamin C.

  • Cinnamon – If you’re used to having this spice only in your apple pie, you better think again. This spice has great anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help prevent blood clots and act as an antibacterial agent in the body. Start adding cinnamon to your oats in the morning, into smoothies and juices or sprinkled over some freshly sliced apple. It adds the perfect hint of sweetness to dishes without the addition of sugar, especially cookies and cakes!

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