With all the demands of your family and work, you struggle to make your health a priority. You often feel overwhelmed, and taking care of your health seems like one more job. You probably don't realize this, but you have nutritional needs that require special attention. Do your body a favor and eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods called super foods. These high-nutrient foods can help you stay healthy and fit.
Fruits and Vegetables
Brimming with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other health-promoting substances, fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer. And, if you're looking to lose weight and tone-up, these super foods may be your best bets, as they contain minimal amounts of fats and calories. Show your body some love by filling half your plate with vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, strawberries, peaches, oranges and grapefruit.
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Whole grains can get your heart on the fast track to optimal health, as they help to control your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, insulin levels and triglycerides. According to the Nurses’ Health Study published in the September 1999 issue of “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," if you gobble down two to three servings of whole-grain products per day, you cut your chance of having a heart disease by 30 percent. A meta-analysis study published in the May 2008 issue of “Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases” states that noshing more than two servings of whole-grain foods per day can slash your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 21 percent. What's more, fiber from whole grains helps you feel full and keeps your digestive system humming. For glowing health, consume foods such as whole oats, whole wheat, whole-grain barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and sorghum.
Fish deserve a place in healthy diets, as they offer genuine health benefits. Adding fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may help prevent heart disease; control lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and eczema; and guard you against cancer, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least two servings of fish a week, especially sardines, herring and wild salmon, but avoid fish containing high levels of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
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Eggs store significant amounts of protein, an essential nutrient that you should include in your diet for optimal health. Besides contributing to your growth and development, protein helps your body repair cells and make new ones. Contrary to what most people think, egg yolks are good for your health despite their cholesterol content. Choline, a nutrient found in egg yolks, maintains the structure of your cells and aids communication between your nerves and muscles.
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Soybeans earn a complete protein status since they contain all the essential amino acids you need to keep yourself fit. Substitute soybeans for meat, milk or egg in your dishes, as they contain low levels of unhealthy saturated fat and no cholesterol. Being an excellent source of dietary fiber with both soluble and insoluble fiber, soybeans may help maintain stable blood sugar, lower serum cholesterol, prevent colon cancer and ease symptoms of digestive disorders, according to the National Soybean Research Laboratory.
- University of New Hampshire: Superfoods to the Rescue
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fruits and Vegetables
- Harvard School of Public Health: Health Gains From Whole Grains
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Whole-Grain Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Results from the Nurses' Health Study
- Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases: Whole Grain Intake and Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-Analysis
- American Diabetes Association: Whole Grain Foods
- Harvard School of Public Health: Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution
- American Heart Association: Fish 101
- MedlinePlus: Protein in Diet
- Linus Pauling Institute: Choline
Mala Srivastava covers health and business for several online publications. She holds a Master of Science in microbiology from India's HNB Garhwal University and a Master of Pharmaceutical Business Management from ICFAI University.