Of all the types of questions a fitness professional is asked, nutrition is the most common subject. Quite frankly people are clueless when it comes to what they eat. Conversely, that is not their fault. In this country we search for the quick fix, the easy way out and our media has done a great marketing job on “diets.” These diets usually consist of restriction some selection of food; fat, carbs, meat etc. So we are constantly told what we “shouldn’t” eat and rarely are we told what we should eat. So I wanted to put together a list of 10 foods that most everyone needs (barring food allergy, religious reasoning or preference). These 10 foods have various purposes that go beyond how many calories they consist of. These foods help the body ward off disease, decrease inflammation, and add vital vitamins and minerals to our body.
1. Eggs- Eggs are on this list for a variety of reasons; the whites are full of high biological value protein (that is a good thing), the yellow is full of leptin (which controls appetite) and they are extremely versatile (scrambled, poached, boiled etc.). Eggs also have 12 vitamin and minerals, one of which (choline) is vital for brain development and increased memory. Eggs are nutrient dense only containing 75 calories per egg.
2. Nuts- If you only look at foods based upon their fat content and calorie count you would probably leave these section of food out. You would be missing the point of the article. Yes calories matter, however a twinkie may have less calories than a Big Mac that does not mean it is a good option. Most nuts are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the cardiovascular system and act as an anti-inflammatory warding off potential disease. Also nuts are considered an antioxidant which has the potential to decrease the potential for cancer. Because most nuts are high in fat, thus high in calories, use proper judgment and portion control and monitor the salt as well. Almonds, cashews, pistachios are all good choices.
3. Sweet Potato- One of my all-time favorite foods that packs a punch and is nutrient dense. Sweet potatoes are technically a vegetable, although we rarely think of them in that way. Their dark orange coloring makes them high in Vitamin A and C and an outstanding source of potassium. Diabetics can enjoy these foods because they are lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, generally because of their high water content. Sweet potatoes also act as an anti-inflammatory.
4. Broccoli- Another one of my all-time favorite foods. Without the cheese, broccoli is a true super food that is packed with potassium a rich source of Vitamin A, C and K. It can be very beneficial for diabetics because of its high fiber content. Just remember, no chees
5. Apples- Not all fruits are created equal. Some are good and some are not. Apples however are unique, the skin is full of fiber (blunting the insulin effects of sugar) and they have high antioxidant content. Apples have been linked to prevent lung cancer, improve lung function and help prevent Type II diabetes.
6. Salmon- the American Heart Association recommends eating salmon twice per week because of the high Omega 3 content. It is low in calories, high in protein and low in saturated fats. If at all possible choose fresh salmon versus farm-raised.
7. Kiwis- They are a nutrient dense food that has an entire days requirement of Vitamin C in one large kiwi. Also high in fiber and potassium and a good source of Vitamin A and E. Great taste and texture makes this fruit a great super food.
8. Beans- Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber which is great for ridding the body of unwanted waste. These are heart healthy foods which are low fat good source of protein. Beans are versatile, they can be a good side dish, a great substitute for meat and chicken and can also be mixed in with other foods to make a great snack.
9. Quinoa- What? Yea Quinoa (pronounce keen-wa) is an ancient grain that is now readily available in health food stores and sections of your commercial grocery stores. Its high in protein and fiber and a good source of iron. It is as easy to prepare as rice and can be combined with nuts and beans as a good meal.
10. Berries- pack an incredible amount of nutritional goodness into a small package. They’re loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, low in calories, and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer. And their flavors satisfy sweets cravings for a fraction of the calories in baked goods. Blueberries lead the pack because they are among the best source of antioxidants and are widely available. Cranberries are also widely available fresh, frozen, or dried. All can add flavor and nutrition to numerous dishes, from salads and cereals to baked goods and yogurt.
So instead of focusing on foods you shouldn’t eat, concentrate on the foods you should. Start incorporating the above and watch your health increase dramatically which will vicariously help you reduce body fat, lower your blood sugar and help you build more muscle. Let me know if you have any good recipes!