Savvy ways to sneak superfoods into your diet

Joy Bauer, RDN, CDN, is a fitness and health expert with NBC’s Today show. She is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with 11 books, including her latest releases, The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration and Joy Bauer’s Food Cures. Joy was the keynote speaker at Speaking of Women’s Health in August 2014, sponsored annually by Baptist Health. Here are highlights of her talk on superfoods.

Berries are bursting with flavonoids to help your body fight the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation. Enjoy all kinds to help manage your weight, relieve arthritis pain, improve your skin and hair, help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and support memory function. Tip: Add them to baked goods, breakfast cereal, and yogurt — and pop them right out the freezer and into your mouth as an anytime treat that even your kids will enjoy.

Salmon and sardines are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They support your heart by decreasing inflammation and lowering triglycerides. They also help stabilize blood sugar, regulate your mood, and keep your appetite in check. Research has also shown that people who ate fatty fish at least once a week had a 10 percent slower decline in memory compared with those who didn’t eat fish. Tip: Experiment with new ways to enjoy salmon as your protein of choice by checking out some of Joy’s recipes.

Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Iron and B vitamins in spinach help maintain healthy hair and a strong circulatory system, high levels of antioxidants help preserve eyes and skin, and potassium and vitamin K help preserve bone health. Because spinach is high in fiber and very low in calories, it’s also a great addition to any weight loss plan and can help manage type-2 diabetes. Tip: Add spinach to marinara sauce in the last few minutes of cooking your pasta dishes. You can also add some fresh spinach leaves to an omelet.

Nuts are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats that help satiate your appetite. They stabilize blood sugar and improve cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing your risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they benefit people with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, and help prevent osteoporosis. Watch how many nuts you eat, though, because they’re high in calories. About a handful a day is plenty. Tip: Blend nuts and seeds into your homemade dressing or sprinkle them on top of a salad.

Dark chocolate contains powerful flavonoids, as well as some magnesium, to help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. To receive the benefits, choose a dark-chocolate (not milk chocolate) that contains at least 70 percent cacao, or cocoa. The best varieties contain only one type of fat — cocoa butter — and do not contain added palm oil, coconut oil, or milk fat. Tip: Slowly savor a one-ounce, snack-sized portion — and be sure to account for an extra 150 calories in your daily calorie allotment.

Red bell peppers are mildly flavored, low in calories, and have a high water content and a good amount of fiber, making them a great choice for watching your weight. One of nature’s best sources of vitamin C, as well as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants, the humble red bell pepper helps with arthritis, osteoporosis, cataracts, macular degeneration, skin, hair, and teeth, and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Tip: Use red peppers to season meat dishes, breakfast casseroles and chicken wraps. Don’t forget to toss them in with your salad to add color and crunchy flavor. 

Beans, lentils and other legumes are the best source of plant-based protein. Rich in vitamins and minerals, such as folate, magnesium, iron, and potassium, they’re also a great source of high soluble fiber to help stabilize blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller longer. The heart-healthy nutrients in beans help lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Tip: Enjoy them in a bean dip, a hearty soup, three-bean vegan chili, or a breakfast burrito.

Egg whites are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, and selenium, involved in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, cataracts, mood disorders, migraine headaches, and PMS symptoms. Eggs also provide biotin, another B vitamin essential for hair growth. Tip: To take advantage of the protein in the whites and the nutrients in the yolks while minimizing their fat and cholesterol, whip 1 whole egg with 2 to 3 egg whites for omelets or scrambled eggs; substitute 2 egg whites (or ¼ cup egg substitute) for 1 whole egg in baked goods.

Oats and other whole grains have become famous for their cholesterol-lowering properties and are associated with reducing risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes. Eating whole grains can also help with weight loss and maintenance because their high fiber content keeps you feeling full and helps control your hunger. If you have celiac disease, look for brands of oatmeal that are certified to be gluten-free. Tip: Add berries and chopped nuts to your oatmeal for a nutrition-packed breakfast.

Pumpkin, an excellent source of beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin, can help prevent arthritis and maintain skin, hair, and eye health. It’s a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in lowering blood pressure and preserving bone health. As a low-calorie, fiber-rich vegetable, pumpkin is a tasty addition to your weight loss plan and preventing/managing type-2 diabetes. Tip: With canned pumpkin, buy 100 percent pure pumpkin puree rather than pumpkin-pie filling, which has added sugar. Use it to pump up your pasta dishes, sauces, and oatmeal. So easy! You can even add a scoop to some nonfat vanilla yogurt for a yummy snack.

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And check out Joy’s delicious, nutritious recipes incorporating these superfoods.


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