Sacramento Experts Recommend these Six Foods
You are what you eat, so to be your healthiest self, it’s important to incorporate nutrient-rich foods into every meal. Read on as two nutrition experts from Marshall Medical Center—Amy Triplett, RD, and Tamalisa Carlson, MPH, RD—share six nutrient-dense foods that you should be eating regularly, along with quick and easy preparation tips.
1 / Blueberries
“This is a wonderful antioxidant-rich food,” explains Triplett. “Antioxidants help guard against free radicals that damage cells in the body and can lead to cancer.” The berries also promote brain health, are high in fiber and contain vitamin C. Triplett recommends sticking with organic blueberries.
Preparation Tip: Add them to smoothies, yogurt, salad or cereals to benefit from their superfood powers.
2 / Beans and Legumes
Beans are a simple way to increase protein and fiber without adding fat and cholesterol to your diet, says Carlson. All beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, navy), dried peas and lentils are packed with lean protein, complex carbohydrates and B vitamins, as well as a variety of minerals such as iron, zinc, phosphorous and potassium. With canned beans, Carlson says to rinse and drain them before eating, to remove excess sodium.
Preparation Tip: Choose beans and/or legumes as a main entrée for a meatless meal at least once a week. Use them to make a tasty Mexican dinner or serve cold in a pasta salad. Hummus—made from garbanzo beans—is a popular choice to pair with vegetables.
3 / Flaxseeds
The main component in this tiny food is omega-3 fatty acid, which “plays a role in decreasing certain cancerous tumors such as colon, breast, skin and lung,” Triplett says. “It also helps to reduce cholesterol, especially targeting LDL, which is the ‘bad cholesterol.’”
Preparation Tip: Ground flaxseeds provide the most health benefits and can be sprinkled on several foods, such as salads, soups and warm cereals, or added to smoothies.
4 / Cruciferous Vegetables
Nothing packs a nutritious punch for fighting cancer like cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, collard greens, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. “They are loaded with antioxidants to protect the body’s cells from cancer and prevent tumor growth,” Carlson says. “In addition, they’re packed with B vitamins, which help with energy metabolism and keep the body functioning optimally.” Dark green vegetables are high in beta-carotene, which promotes healthy eyes, skin, hair and your immune system. “Surprisingly, a serving of broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange. With benefits like these, try eating cruciferous vegetables at least several times a week,” she says.
Preparation Tip: Steam and mash cauliflower to look like mashed potatoes or roast your favorite varieties and add to sandwiches, salads or soups.
5 / Garlic
With antibiotic properties and vitamin C, garlic allows for protection against colds, Triplett says. It also contains vitamin B6, which promotes heart health by lowering blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL; and increasing HDL, or good cholesterol.
Preparation Tip: Roast it in the oven and spread on almost anything.
6 / Orange Foods
From vegetables like sweet potatoes, to fruits like tangerines, orange foods are filled with beta-carotene for healthy eyes, skin, immune function and cancer prevention. Citrus fruits also supply important vitamin C to fend off colds and keep your body strong. “Just one carrot a day will meet your body’s requirement for this necessary nutrient,” she says.
Preparation Tip: Crunchy, raw carrots make a delicious snack, and are great dipped in hummus. Try to eat one serving of orange-colored vegetables or fruit every day.
5-Minute Fresh Blueberries with Yogurt
1 pint of fresh blueberries
4 oz. vanilla or soy yogurt, stirred
1 tbsp. chopped walnuts
2 tsp. grated chocolate, optional
Place blueberries into two bowls, top with yogurt, walnuts and chocolate. Variation: Layer vanilla yogurt and berries in wine glasses and top with crystallized ginger. Serves two.
The dressing should be used right away because the flaxseeds will swell in liquid, making the dressing thick.
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 tbsp. whole flaxseed
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Press garlic and let stand for 5 minutes. Grind flaxseeds in a blender on medium speed until well ground. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 2 minutes. Variations: Add 1 tsp. curry powder; add 1 tbs. minced basil or rosemary; add 1 tbs. of honey; add 2 pinches of cayenne. Makes 1 cup.
1 or more whole heads of garlic Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and discard outer layers of the whole garlic bulb, leaving skins of the individual cloves of garlic intact. With a sharp knife, cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan (muffin tins work great), cut side up. Drizzle olive oil over each bulb, and use fingers to rub the olive oil over all the exposed garlic cloves. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400-degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes, or until cloves feel soft when pressed. Allow the garlic to cool. Use a small knife to cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins. Spread the roasted garlic over warm French bread, mix with sour cream for a topping for baked potatoes, or mix in with Parmesan cheese and pasta.