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Already thinking about New Year’s resolutions?
Pledge to pack more nutrition in your meals in the New Year. Mix any (or all) of these 7 stellar foods into your daily diet and your body will thank you.
1. DEEP, DARK-COLORED FRUITS ANDVEGETABLES
“All deep, dark-colored produce have phytochemicals – natural compounds in the plant that have been shown to have a positive impact on health,” says Sue Hazeghazam, a registered dietitian at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. Hazeghazam suggests purple beets, blueberries, winter squash, kale, kiwi, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
As we age, our body’s ability to produce enzymes declines. Sprouts are a concentrated source of the living enzymes and “life force” that is lost when foods are cooked or not picked and eaten fresh. Additionally, due to their high enzyme content, sprouts are much easier to digest than the seed or bean from which they come. Sprouts are also a good source of protein and vitamin C. Try alfalfa sprouts in wraps and roll-ups, or top an omelet with radish sprouts.
3. BEANS AND LEGUMES
By making more meatless meals with beans and legumes, you can boost your intake of plant protein and fiber while cutting the saturated fat and cholesterol found in even the leanest cuts of meat and poultry. Tamalisa Carlson, a registered dietician at Marshall Medical Center, cites The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the new USDA “Choose My Plate” program. “Beans and legumes are a good source of iron and zinc (typically found in meat) and an excellent source of folate and potassium (typically found in plant foods), so it’s like a 2-for-1 deal for your health,” says Carlson.
4. OMEGA-3 RICH FISH
Researchers have found that the omega-3 minerals you get in fish can lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may possibly help with memory loss and Alzheimer’s. There is also evidence to show that they reduce depression. Omega-3 fatty acids are most prevalent in cold-water fish, such as wild (not farmed) salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel.
5. UNSALTED NUTS
A handful of unsalted nuts like pistachios or almonds are a great healthy snack, suggests Hazeghazam of Sutter Health. “Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids which are heart healthy and also a good source of magnesium, fiber and vitamin E,” she points out. But be mindful of how many you consume, as nuts can be high in calories if portions are not controlled. Be sure to pre-bag nuts if you’re taking them along on a trip.
6. BRAN CEREAL
Dietary fiber has many benefits, says Karen Auwaerter, R.D., manager of nutrition and food services at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. “Fiber helps prevent constipation, moderates blood sugar and blood cholesterol, keeps you feeling full and may even reduce inflammation that increases risk of diabetes and heart disease,” she explains. Auwaerter suggests eating 1/2 cup of 100-percent bran cereal daily. “You can eat it as cold cereal (even mixing it with another favorite cereal for variety) or mix it into yogurt for a quick breakfast,” she advises.
7. HUMMUS WITH RAW VEGGIES
“Pair a small container of hummus with some pre-prepped veggies and you have a fantastic portable snack that is full of nutrients,” says Carlson of Marshall Medical. The protein and healthy fats in the hummus, along with the fiber in the vegetables, will keep you full with the energy boost you need to make it through the day.