Foods That Boost Your Health

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flaxseedsEating a well-balanced diet is not always attainable, but there are some foods that you can stock up on that can increase the nutritional value of your everyday meals. These superfoods offer vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fiber and so much more. Here are seven foods that boost your health – use them liberally!

Blackstrap molasses: Blackstrap molasses is thick, dark and has a slightly bitter taste, but 1 tablespoon offers 170 mg of calcium, 3.5 mg of iron, and 500 mg of potassium. Add it to smoothies, drizzle it over oatmeal, add it to baked beans, or use it to baste roasted chicken or turkey.

Chia seeds: Two tablespoons of these tiny seeds offer 5 grams of fiber, 90 mg of calcium, and 2.5 mg of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. Blend chia seeds into smoothies, sprinkle them over hot cereal or yogurt, add them to granola, use them as a salad topper, or incorporate them into hummus, casseroles, stir-fries and muffin batters.

Raw cacao powder: This powder is rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants shown to help reduce inflammation, relax blood vessels, improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Add raw cacao powder to protein shakes and salad dressings, sprinkle it over hot cereal, or mix it into chili and stews.

Flaxseed (ground): Like, chia seeds, flaxseeds are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA. Higher intakes of ALA are thought to help guard against type 2 diabetes. Ground flax also provides lignans, which are phytochemicals linked to breast and prostate cancer prevention. Use them the same you would chia seeds (but flaxseed must be ground first, in order to get the nutritional benefits).

Hemp hearts: Use shelled hemp seeds to bolster the protein, magnesium and ALA content of meals. Two tablespoons deliver 6.3 g of protein, 1.7 g of ALA and nearly half a day’s magnesium requirement for women and one-third of a day’s worth for men. Add hemp hearts to the same types of foods to which you’d add chia and ground flax.

Nutritional yeast: Sold as flakes or powder in natural food stores, nutritional yeast is a source of B vitamins, especially B12. And when it’s fortified with B12, it becomes an excellent source, making it a good option for vegetarians and vegans. Depending on the brand, fortified nutritional yeast can provide anywhere from 4 to 12 micrograms of B12 per tablespoon. Sprinkle nutritional yeast over pasta, popcorn, baked potatoes, scrambled eggs, cooked vegetables and salads.

Wheat germ oil:  One tablespoon contains about 20 mg of  vitamin E.  A higher intake of vitamin E from foods has been linked to protection from heart disease and eye disease (macular degeneration) and a slower rate of cognitive decline. Use this oil to increase the vitamin E content of smoothies, protein shakes, dips and salad dressings.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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December 2015
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