Superfoods to the Rescue?

Prunes boost bone density, cabbage is a good blood purifier and garlic helps the immune system. With claims like these, it’s no wonder people stock their refrigerators with superfoods. So what are superfoods? “Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods often high in fiber, antioxidants and protein that have health benefits” says Kelly Bright, M.S., RD, LDN, registered dietitian with Meritus Medical Center.

Examples of nutrient-dense foods include leafy greens such as kale and spinach, certain fruits like blueberries, strawberries and pomegranates and oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon. These kinds of foods pack a wallop because they contain lots of vitamins and minerals and few calories. “They nourish your body and help keep you healthy,” says Kelly.

Take a peek inside Kelly’s refrigerator and pantry and you’ll find salmon, berries, low-fat yogurt, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and unsalted almonds.

Other beneficial superfoods include:

  • Nuts, legumes and seeds—like walnuts, pinto beans and pumpkin seeds
  • Soy tofu and nuts
  • Eggs
  • Apples
  • Steel-cut oats
  • Pumpkin

Health benefits

So if superfoods offer health benefits, why not gorge yourself on pumpkin pie and tofu burgers? Kelly, along with advice from physicians, cautions to eat everything in moderation. “Superfoods are not a cure all,” says Kelly. “If you’re eating a poor diet and not exercising, eating one superfood isn’t going to help you.”

She also cautions against fad diets that prescribe eating a specific food as a way to lose weight, improve longevity or prevent chronic diseases. “Don’t believe in fad diets where you eat just one thing,” says Kelly.

Rather, Kelly recommends incorporating superfoods into daily meal planning like eating salmon twice a week, using dark greens to make salad or choosing apples and berries over dessert.

Superfoods at super prices

To eat more superfoods, you don’t necessarily have to shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and spinach can be found in the freezer section, but Kelly warns to eliminate vegetables packed in sauces and gravies to avoid added salt and sugar.

“We’re fortunate to live in a rural area where farmer’s markets and produce stands are prevalent,” says Kelly. According to Kelly, produce found at stands are usually twice the size, of better quality and cheaper than grocery store produce.

Other staples that allow you to eat healthy for less include lentils, tuna fish, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and eggs.

March is National Nutrition Month. Mark this month as an opportunity to fill your body with the nutrients it craves and avoid those low nutrient, high-calorie foods.