By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD
Acai berries, coconut water, pomegranates, kale, noni juice, there is always some food that is in the spotlight. Sometimes they are worthy of the attention and sometimes not. There are many “super” foods that should be trendy but aren’t. Here are five that are worth adding to your diet.
Bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables. For a leafy green and a cruciferous vegetable, it has a surprisingly mild flavor. It’s low in calories; 1 cup has only 9 calories. It contains thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates; all of which help to decrease your risk of cancer. And it is a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene. As I mentioned in my post about calcium supplements, it’s a great source of calcium that’s easy for your body to absorb. Just 1¼ cups is equivalent to one glass of milk. It’s tasty, versatile, and healthy. Why isn’t everyone talking about it?
Parsnips are a great substitute for the potato. They are high in fiber, and have a low glycemic index (which means they don’t make your blood sugar go up quickly). They are also a good source of vitamins C, K, and folic acid. And they are really delicious. Try roasting them with rosemary, garlic, and a little olive oil at 395° until tender, about 20 minutes. You can also add them to soups and stews.
Barley contains eight of the essential amino acids, lots of fiber, and a host of vitamins and mineral including niacin, B vitamins, vitamin E, and selenium. A recent study found that eating whole-grain barley can help keep blood sugar low after a meal compared to white rice or even whole-grain products. Barley also helps lower cholesterol. You can use it in soups, stews, in place of rice with a meal, or even as a breakfast cereal. Make sure to buy hulled or dehulled barley which is the whole-grain version and avoid pearl barley which has most of the fiber and nutrients removed.
I think beans are fantastic. They are high in both water-soluble and water-insoluble fiber. They help to lower cholesterol, cheaply and healthfully get rid of constipation, and make you feel full and therefore eat less. And their vibrant color means they are packed with health-promoting antioxidants and other phytochemicals. They are a great protein source and a good source of folic acid and iron. Try pinto, black, garbanzo, kidney, navy, or great northern white beans. If you get canned beans, look for “low sodium” on the package or rinse the beans to get rid of some salt. Also check out the canned beans at Trader Joe’s where you get a good price on organic beans and their cans don’t have BPA (Bisphenol A), a compound that can mimic estrogen and may be associated with health problems.
Onions contain flavonoids and allyl sulfides, both of which may help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease for people who eat a lot of them. Thankfully, that is easy to do since onions can add flavor and interest to an otherwise boring meal. Try adding a small amount of fresh red onion to salads and sandwiches. You can also caramelize onions by cooking them slowly on the stove using medium heat with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Caramelized onions are sweeter and can be added to foods such as vegetables or beans. You can also chop an onion, bake it, and add an oil-free version to your foods.
Why isn’t everyone talking about these foods? How about trying one or more today? And don’t forget to buy organic!
Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.