Super Foods

8 Super Foods Your Body Will Thank You for Eating
Article By: Leslie Fink, MS, RD

Our expert lists eight "super foods" that help enhance your body, mind and soul.
Like it or not, Mom was justified when she forced you to eat your vegetables. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts give you nutrients and substances that might truly have an impact on your health. Same with crunchy nuts, sugar-sweet berries and thirst-quenching iced tea.
"If you're concentrating on eating foods that have a lot of nutrients and phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant substances that fight disease), you're hedging your bet for at least a healthier life, if not a longer one," says Barbara Gollman, MS, RD. Here's her input on eight "super foods" to stock up on:
Walnuts. Walnuts contain Alpha-Linolenic Acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that studies indicate lowers cholesterol and protects against heart disease and stroke. The California Walnut Commission usually recommends 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of walnuts per day (or the equivalent of about 8 walnut halves). Not sure how to get started? Walnuts add a healthy crunch to any salad, soup or stir fry.
Chile peppers. Capsaicin, the substance that gives chiles their heat, acts as a disease-preventing phytochemical, says Gollman.
Tomatoes and tomato products. The antioxidant lycopene in tomato-rich foods may help prevent prostate cancer, and might also help prevent breast cancer. "Cooked tomatoes are more effective than raw ones," says Gollman. So load up on tomato paste and tomato sauces.
Berries. All berries are good for you, but blueberries and raspberries seem to hold top spots on the berry nutrition chart. Their anthocyanins and ellagic acid (the substances that give them their rich colours) possess potential cancer- and heart disease-preventing antioxidant properties. Plus, they're high in fibre and vitamin C.
Leafy greens. Folate, a much-talked-about B vitamin, does triple duty. In addition to helping fend off heart disease and possibly even cancer, it's believed to prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies. So go for anything that's leafy and green. Some of Gollman's tasty suggestions: Mix steamed chard with minced garlic and fresh lemon juice, and make pesto sauce with basil and kale.
Quinoa. Pronounced KEEN-wah, this nutty-tasting food is unlike any other grain (although not a true grain, it is often called one). "It's the only grain considered to be a complete protein," comments Gollman. If that's not enough to give it clout, consider that the sterols it contains may lower cholesterol, decreasing your risk for heart disease.
Yogurt. Sure, it's good for your bones, but that's not all. Most yogurts contain good bacteria that help maintain proper digestive health and may help boost your immune system. Look for the words "live and active cultures" — such as L. acidophilus and Bifidus — on ingredient labels.
Tea. Whether served iced, hot or decaffeinated, black or green tea — as well as some other non-herbal teas — might help prevent cancer and heart disease due to the antioxidant effects of the flavonoids and polyphenols they contain. Up your tea intake with some of Gollman's ideas: Make a tea slush with iced tea and puréed fruit, or try jazzing up regular iced tea with frozen mango cubes or slices.