The weekly mind-numbing, end of the work-day trip to the grocery store is rarely an exhilarating event. More often than not you are browsing the aisles randomly picking familiar foods for that last minute dinner. However, there are a few superfoods out there that should have a place in your shopping cart. They will not only protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes, but also help your waistline.
Get Greener with Avocado. Fats, when eaten in the proper balance with protein and carbohydrates, can help to slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which leads to less insulin release. The end result? You stay fuller longer, and your waist gets slimmer, faster. In one study 347 adults (50% female) who consumed an average of ½ an avocado per day had had higher intakes of important nutrients — including dietary fibre, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium — than people who didn’t eat avocados. They also reaped the benefits of being lighter (7.5lbs on average) with a smaller waist circumference (4cm on average). Just keep in mind that fat does have twice the amount of calories as carbs or protein, so limit your avocado consumption to one-quarter at a time, enjoyed as a healthy fat source with a meal.
Super Seed with Chia. This ancient gluten-free grain can be added to just about any food. On a per gram basis, chia is touted to be the highest source of omega-3s in nature, with 65 per cent of its total fat from omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a substantial source of fibre, as well as magnesium, potassium, folic acid, iron and calcium. Chia stabilizes blood sugar, manages the effects of diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity and aids symptoms related to metabolic syndrome, including imbalances in cholesterol, blood pressure and high blood sugar after meals. It is highly anti-inflammatory and reduces high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, a blood marker of inflammation. This wondrous little grain also contains tryptophan, the amino acid precursor of serotonin and melatonin. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your meals, salads or smoothies daily in either ground or seed version
Hone in on Horseradish. It may clear your sinuses and more. Horseradish contains a high percentage of glucosinolates (significantly more than broccoli), which act as a natural antibiotic and can also improve your resistance to cancer and environmental toxins. Horseradish is also said to aid digestion, reduce urinary tract infections and fight against certain pathogens in food, such as listeria, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. If you prefer prepared horseradish to a homemade recipe, than look for one with no added sugars.
Stay Fuller, Longer with Flaxseed. Flaxseed, a must-have in your smoothie-making arsenal, is rich in thiamin, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Flaxseed’s high fibre content helps lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels and aid weight loss. Flaxseed is also full of lignans—phytoestrogenic compounds that have been proven to help protect us against certain kinds of cancers. Researchers have found that mice fed flaxseed had reduced formation, growth, or spread of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma. One pilot study even found that flaxseeds can reduce hot flashes in menopausal women by as much as 50%. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your smoothies or salads daily. Make sure to grind as needed as flax can quickly go rancid (always keep refrigerated)
Slim Down With Olive oil. Olives and olive oil are rich in antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which are known to have anti-inflammatory, anticancer and anticoagulant benefits. But the weight-loss benefits of olive oil could be what is most exciting. When we include mono unsaturated fats such as olive oil (and avocados) in our daily diet, they encourage the release of our appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. Olive oil helps you not only lose weight, but also keep it off. In a study published in the July 2007 issue of Diabetes Care, 11 subjects with insulin resistance and increased abdominal fat used three different diets for 28 days. Each diet had equal calories but different compositions – one was a high-saturated-fat diet, the second was high in carbohydrates and the third was rich in monounsaturated fats. Can you guess the results? Of the three diets, the diet rich in olive oil showed the best outcome, preventing not only belly fat accumulation but also insulin resistance. Need another reason? It can keep you looking younger longer by preventing wrinkles.
Ode to Cherry Season. Cherries are the new wonder-food, and not just because they taste great and can satisfy your urge for something sweet. This fruit contains red-pigmented antioxidants, is high in soluble fibre and is low in calories, all of which can help improve insulin sensitivity. Scientists have identified a group of naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins, abundant in cherries and other red fruits, that may help to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In early studies published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, anthocyanins were found to reduce insulin production by 50 per cent . Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants, which may protect against heart disease and cancer. Add frozen cherries to your smoothies or enjoy fresh when it’s in season.