October Fuel

How good is your diet?  I mean,
how well do you really eat?  I’m not talking about a diet that consists solely of twigs, sticks and berries - I mean how many servings of vegetables, fruits and whole grains do you consume every day for every meal?  

We may not all be perfect in how we fuel our bodies (who is?) but we can do ourselves the favor of boosting our systems through a few “superfoods” that we can easily incorporate into breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.  Use the following as a guide to improve your well-being and you won’t regret it!

Leeks, onions, and garlic can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Some studies suggest they slow or prevent the growth of prostate, stomach, and colon cancer cells. They also have antibiotic properties, which helps keep germs away.

Avocados:  These “fruits” contain loads of beneficial fats (yes, beneficial!), help control inflammation (think arthritis) and is great for your heart.  Make certain you try and save as much of the dark green portion below the peel as the darkest color has the most carotenoids.  Add some sliced avocado to your salad or sandwiches, or mash up for some delicious guacamole!

Blueberries:  Eat them fresh or frozen, either way they have tons of antioxidants, which combat the damage done by inflammation (much like the cruciferous veggies). Anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds that give blueberries their deep color, may have a protective role against diabetes as well.

Chocolate is high in flavonoids, which have been shown to improve blood flow, suppress coughs, improve memory, and give you hydrated, smooth skin.  The higher the cocoa concentration, the better and avoid sugary milk chocolate; read the label to make sure you’re not adding in a bunch of extra “fillers” that might negate any benefit.

Cinnamon:  Cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all herbs and spices. It also has been shown to have a positive effect on blood glucose levels (diabetics take heed!), adding it to foods can keep you feeling steady and satiated.  Try sprinkling some on your morning oatmeal or brewing it with your coffee.

Cruciferous vegetables
:  Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli rabe (to name a few) are particularly high in phytochemicals which help protect against cancer.  One phytochemical in particular, sulforaphane, may increase enzymes that fight against carcinogens and free radicals that damage cells.  One thing to note:  cook these veggies lightly or eat them raw as overcooking may destroy the beneficial properties.  

Dark, leafy greens:  Spinach, kale, and swiss chard are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, and lutein.  They’re also a great source of Omega 3 fats - great for your brain!  Instead of traditional lettuce, use spinach or kale to top your burger, or blend some kale or swiss chard into your fruit smoothie.

Flaxseeds offer the easiest and most concentrated way to naturally consume Omega-3 fatty acids which speed up cell metabolism and reduce inflammation in the body.  Omega 3’s also reduce triglyceride levels and help lower blood pressure. Be certain to grind the flaxseed just prior to eating as the beneficial properties fade over time.  Sprinkle on your breakfast cereal, in yogurt, or on your sandwich.

Green Tea:  Among all teas, green tea wins the contest when it comes to concentration of protective antioxidants.  It helps prevent damage to your heart and has been shown to help improve bone density.  Be aware though - adding milk to your green tea may impede absorption of catechin antioxidants.   

Miso:  Ever heard of this stuff?  If not, you’re missing out. This salty tasting, buttery textured soybean paste is a great source of vitamin B12 and zinc, which helps the immune system function properly.  It’s also wonderful for your circulatory system, aids in protection against breast cancer, and is beneficial for bone and joint health.  Use miso in place of salt for some recipes (soups, marinades), add into dressings or make some good old-fashioned miso soup!

Oregano:  As much as a half teaspoon of dried oregano has the great benefits of a spinach salad! Oregano can act as an expectorant, clearing congestion, and can also improve digestion.  You can add oregano to so many foods - soups, eggs, tomato sauce...don’t be shy!

Salmon:  Wild caught, Pacific King, Sockeye, and Coho salmon have more DHA (brain health) plus omega-3 fatty acids than almost any other seafood.  They are also lowest in mercury content.  If fresh salmon is a budget-buster, try canned Alaskan salmon; it’s as nutritionally beneficial.   

It seems as if vitamin D deficiency has become more prevalent among us sunscreen slatherers...Wild caught sardines (low in mercury) are a great source of vitamin D; a three-ounce serving has as much calcium as a cup of milk!  Eat them plain, with crackers or mashed up and mixed with dijon as a sandwich spread.  

Walnuts:  Walnuts contain the most omega-3 fatty acids per serving, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and may reduce inflammation in arteries. Walnuts are also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium.  Chop them up and add to salads, muffins, or other baked goods or eat a handful by themselves.

 A relative of ginger, this spice is particularly known for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties and some studies suggest a protective element against Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.  Add some to soup or stir fry, or you can take it in supplement form (but we believe it’s most beneficial to come from the food you eat!).

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