Want to get a nutritional boost in what you’re eating these days? Sarah Maughan, a holistic nutritionist based in Toronto, dishes on what super foods she’s eating more of lately.
Remember, though, that every food, as long as it’s a real, whole food, can be a super food, she says. “Any whole food that offers nutrients that are beneficial to your body is a super food,” says Maughan. Don’t get stressed out about eating things that are labelled “super food,” advises the Toronto-based nutritionist, who says she wants to ease people’s stress over eating tons of the latest antioxidant-rich foodie find.
That said, here are three foods you may want to add to your shopping basket.
“These are one of the highest antioxidant foods,” says Maughan, adding that the anthocyanian, which gives the fruit the blue colour helps to prevent oxidative damage. “And this is especially important if you have an active lifestyle, to offset the stress you’ve put on your muscles,” she says. Blueberries also reduce the risk of high blood pressure by increasing the strength of your blood vessels, and this fruit manages to be both high in fibre and low in sugar. “So it doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike — making it a great to add to smoothies, on cereal or oatmeal or in your yogurt or salad,” she says. Plus, she points out, they’re in season right now, they’re inexpensive and easy to find. In fact, Maughan suggests buy many pints now and freezing them to use later on.
Beet juice has been found to help increase athletic endurance, says Maughan. And recent research from St. Louis University has found that eating beets (which are high in nitrates) helped runners run five kilometres faster than after they’d eaten cranberries. “Plus, beets help to reduce inflammation and helps the liver to detox the body.”
Not sure what to do with beets? She suggests barbecuing them as you would potatoes, or steaming them and putting them in a salad. And don’t forget using them in your smoothies. “They’re sweet so you can use them like a fruit and put steamed beets into a smoothie, much like carrots, to offset the bitterness of other smoothie ingredients,” she says.
Cacao nibs taste somewhat like chocolate chips, but offer more nutrition and contain less sugar, says Maughan. “Add them into a trail mix, and when mixed with nuts and dried fruit, the nibs will give the mix that chocolate hit you’re looking for,” she says. Cacao is also available in a powder form so you can mix it into oatmeal or blended into a smoothie–“use it where you’d like to put chocolate,” says Maughan.
The benefits of cacao nibs? “They’re high in magnesium and in the summer when you may be low in electrolytes, they can help you by helping to prevent muscle cramping, and they’re also good for your heart and lowering blood pressure.” Another plus that people who are looking for a caffeine pick me up? Cacao offers a caffeine effect, but because it comes from theobromine, it wont’ give you the jitters because it also contains a relaxant effect from the magnesium. Look for it in health food store.