My Ten Favorite Foods That Are Super Nutritious
We hear a lot about ‘superfoods’. There are numerous lists and some foods seem to make every one. I decided to create my own top ten list. In order for a food to make the cut it had to meet certain criteria:
- It has to be one of my favorite foods.
- It has to be a food that I eat on a regular basis (daily or at least weekly).
- It must be low in salt, sodium and fat.
- It must be high in nutrition.
- It must be versatile.
Not only are the foods on this list super nutritious, they are also delicious and I never tire of them. When we get right down to it isn’t that what is really important? A food can be on every list, but if you don’t enjoy eating it or know how to prepare it after you buy it, being on a list somewhere is pretty irrelevant.
The key for each of us is to seek out foods that we truly enjoy, can eat on a regular basis and are low in fat, calories and sodium yet high in nutrition.
So here’s the list of my favorite foods. Let me know what you think.
Karen’s Superfoods: The Top Ten List
1. Black Beans – I could probably write an entire article on black beans. I won’t do that now, but if you’d like to know anything and everything about them click here. One cup of black beans provides 59.8% of the daily nutritional value of fiber, 64% DV of folate, 30.1T magnesium and 28% of Vitamin B1. Did I mention protein? Black beans are an excellent meat replacement because they contain a substantial amount of protein (30.4% of daily value in one cup). One cup is 227 calories. Most of all, they are versatile. I put them on nachos, pizza and cook them into soups and salads.
2. Mini Sweet Peppers – It’s no secret that the mini sweet peppers are on my top ten list. I buy a bag every week and usually run out before it’s time to go back to the store. I take them in my lunch as a snack almost daily. They are sweet, crunchy and pretty. If you enjoy chips with your sandwich or to munch on, try sweet peppers instead. Three sweet peppers provide 180 m potassium, 35% DV of Vitamin A and 270% DV of Vitamin C. (Check on bag for nutritional content) I have looked at recipes to find other ways to enjoy the peppers but haven’t tried any of them. Most of them suggest stuffing the peppers with ingredients like shrimp and cream cheese and for me that would defeat the purpose of eating a snack that is only 25 calories.
3. Chocolate Almond Milk – If you haven’t tried chocolate almond milk you’re missing out on a nutritious treat. One cup of almond milk will quench your thirst, satisfy your chocolate craving, and provide 25% DV of Vitamin D, 50% DV of Vitamin E and 50% DV of Vitamin B12 and all for only 120 calories. Poured over ice, chocolate almond milk is an excellent post work-out drink and makes a refreshing afternoon snack.
4. Strawberries – Blueberries are on every superfoods list, but I’m not a blueberry lover so I didn’t include them. Bright red, ripe strawberries are my berry of choice. Strawberries are great just as they are but are extremely versatile too. They can be sliced and added to spinach or romaine lettuce salads, fruit salads and desserts. Strawberries are also loaded with Vitamin C (141.1% DV), Manganese (28%), and fiber (11.5%). Plus they are low in calories. One cup has only 49.
5. Spinach – Spinach knocks most of the other vegetables out of the park when it comes to nutrition. Take a look: Vitamin K – 1110.6% DV, Vitamin A – 377.3%, Manganese – 84%, Folate – 65.7% and Fiber 17.2%. And the best news is one cup is only 7 calories. I often use spinach as the primary ingredient in salads, put it in vegetable lasagna, cook it as a side dish and add it to my fruit smoothies. I know that many people aren’t fans of this dark, leafy green so I recommend adding a couple of handfuls to the blender when you’re making your favorite fruit smoothie. I tried the green smoothie out on my co-workers and even the people that don’t like the green stuff agreed the only give-away that it was an ingredient was the color.
6. Asparagus – This is another vegetable that I find people turn their nose up at. I think it’s because they haven’t prepared it properly. If your only experience with asparagus in out of the can you should give fresh grilled spinach a try. When cooked on the grill or sautéed in a pan on the cook top with a drizzle of olive oil and garlic, asparagus is crunchy and delicious. I made an asparagus salad and my family loved it. Asparagus, like spinach, has high nutritional value and an abundance of anti-oxidants. It’s high in Vitamin K (69.6%), Vitamin A (20.2%) and Folate (17.4%).
7. Salmon – This is one of my family’s favorite foods and now that we know how important the omega-3 fatty acids are to heart health it definitely has a place on the top ten list. It is also abundant in Vitamin D (264.7% DV), B12 (109.6%), Tryptophan (109.3%) and protein (61.9%). The omega-3s come in at 61.2% DV. Four ounces of salmon is 233 calories. There are endless ways to use salmon in salads and main dishes. At times when I’m in a hurry I make salmon loaf using canned salmon, however, fresh grilled is my first choice.
8. Brown Rice – We made the shift from processed grains to whole grains a couple of years ago and I now find it hard to eat white rice. It seems so bland and sticky compared to brown plus the process that takes rice and makes it white removes most of its nutritional value. Brown rice makes a good base for grilled vegetables, salmon, or chicken. One cup of brown rice delivers 88.0% DV for manganese, a mineral that helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is a key component to a healthy nervous system.
9. Almonds – Almonds are one of my favorite snacks. The fact that I eat them every day and never get tired of them along with their ability to lower LDL Cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease secures them a spot on the list. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, in other words, healthy fats that can lower the risk for heart disease by up to 45%. They are also a good source of Vitamin E (44.8% DV) and magnesium (24.6%). Almonds are higher in calories than the other foods on the list so portion control becomes a factor. Twenty three whole raw almonds are about 164 calories.
10. Coffee – Although it’s not actually a food, coffee makes the list and not just because it one of my favorites things. The more studies are done on coffee the better the news gets for java lovers like me. The most recent study shows that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes and infections. It has long been believed that coffee is good for the liver and helps protect against Parkinson disease. I drink coffee black so I don’t have to worry about sugar or cream undoing the benefits I’m getting from the antioxidants in the coffee beans. Hot or cold, coffee is my beverage of choice both before a workout and as a mid-afternoon pick me up.
I had to put some thought into compiling this list. There are a lot of good foods out there that fit the criteria of ‘superfood’ but I wanted to drill down to my absolute favorite ten. These are foods that are on my shopping list every week and that are great eaten alone or as an ingredient in a favorite main dish, soup, salad or dessert.
What did I miss? What’s on your super food list?