The Healthy Dozen “Super Foods”

We all have in mind what we think are “healthy” foods. If you are reading this, you probably know what foods are “bad” for your body. I try to convince myself that I’m safe if I follow the idea of “All things in moderation” especially when I’m looking at a tub of my favorite Blue Bell ice cream. I found myself hesitating to list what I thought were healthy foods so I looked at what the experts eat. Here is a peak into the favorite foods of professional Registered Dietitians and nutritionists.

“This is every nutritionist’s ‘convenience food.’ In just a quarter cup, you get fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat from the olive oil.” —Jennifer McDaniel, a registered dietitian nutritionist in St. Louis and an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson

“This is one of those powerhouse spices every R.D. tries to work into his/her diet. Research shows that just half a teaspoon a day can help regulate blood sugar—and when our blood sugar drops, we feel hungry, so cinnamon can curb your appetite. I add a teaspoon to my coffee beans before I grind them; it infuses my coffee with flavor and health benefits.” —Jennifer McDaniel
See Rick’s article on cinnamon here:

Dark Berries
“A bowl of berries is what most nutritionists have when they’re craving something sweet. Berries are jam-packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants—crucial for aging well. We favor super-dark berries, like blueberries and blackberries, because they have the highest doses of those powerful antioxidants.” —Keri Glassman, a dietitian in New York City and author of The New You and Improved Diet

Almond Milk
“No matter what we think about dairy, most of us agree that it’s too easy to overdo. Yogurt, cheese—even that whey protein in an energy bar is dairy. It sneaks into more than you might expect. That’s why R.D.’s love unsweetened almond milk. It has a consistency similar to cow’s milk but half the calories—and you still get vitamin E. I love using almond milk in smoothies, and I also swap it for milk when I make oatmeal and pudding.” —Carolyn Brown

“Every dietitian I know agrees that avocados are a must-eat food. They are a great source of healthy fats, which help fill you up so you’ll be less likely to want a snack later on. Plus, they taste really decadent. I love putting avocado slices on my salad; research shows that it helps your body absorb nutrients. And they are the perfect food if you’re on the go. When I fly, I stash an avocado in my carry-on. I cut it in half, sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, grab a few crackers, and I’ve got a perfect plane snack.” —Carolyn Brown, , a registered dietitian at Foodtrainers in New York City

Greek yogurt
“Dietitians are a little obsessed with Greek yogurt, but for good reason: It’s got two times the protein and less sugar than regular yogurt; it’s filled with probiotics, which help keep your immune system strong; and it’s lower in lactose than other dairy—great for someone with lactose intolerance.” —Kate Geagan, a dietitian in Park City, UT, and author of Go Green, Get Lean

“You’ll find a carton of eggs in any R.D.’s fridge, including mine. Eggs have gotten a bad rap due to their cholesterol content, but research shows there’s limited evidence linking egg consumption and heart disease. Plus, this protein-rich food has 70 calories, 13 vitamins and minerals, and the anti-inflammatory nutrient choline, which most Americans need.” —Jennifer McDaniel

Extra-virgin olive oil
“Dietitians love it when good taste, nutrition, and health meet—and extra-virgin olive oil is a triple win. It’s teeming with antioxidants and good-for-you mono unsaturated fats, and it’s delicious. I always buy it in a dark-colored bottle; light can oxidize the oil, minimizing some of the health benefits.” —Kate Geagan (NOT FOR COOKING)

“Too many of my clients steer clear of nuts because they’re high in fat, but dietitians eat them because we know that monounsaturated fat, in moderation, can help you maintain your weight or even lose. Almonds and walnuts are my favorites. They satisfy a crunchy craving, and the fat-fiber combo fills me up. Nuts are also loaded with protein, antioxidants, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.” —Keri Glassman

“If there’s one veggie that every nutritionist across the country eats and recommends, it’s kale. That’s because the leafy green is so nutrient-dense. It’s loaded with vitamins K, A, and C, fiber, and calcium. And it’s packed with so many cancer-preventative antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. My favorite way to eat more is making kale chips, a total party favorite and kid pleaser. Just rip up the kale, massage a little olive oil into the leaves, and bake at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes. They’re as good as potato chips!” —Carolyn Brown

“Most nutritionists reach for this grain over brown rice or wheat pasta because it’s a complete source of protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids your body needs. It also contains more fiber than most grains, with five grams in every cup. And it gets better: Quinoa is packed with plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it a great way to get those anti-inflammatory fats in your diet.” —Jennifer McDaniel

Water with lemon
“A lot of my dietitian friends start their day by drinking water with lemon, and it’s my morning ritual as well. Unless you’re eating mostly whole, plant-based foods, the pH balance in your digestive system is probably on the acidic side. Lemon is very alkaline** and helps bring the body back to an ideal balance, which is important for overall health. Plus, downing a big glass of water right after you wake up is a great way to get your digestive system moving.” —Carolyn Brown
* For the full lemon water benefits: pure filtered water and lemon creates the ultimate water to start or end the day! The trick however, is to have the water lukewarm. If the water is too hot or too cold then it will cause the body to expand energy in order to process it. Lukewarm water also has that comforting feeling to it…especially on a cold morning! – Ross Bridgeford
** Obviously, lemons contain acidic acid but it is not the relative acidity/alkalinity of the food but rather the effect it has on the body that is important. Seemingly acidic foods such as lemons, limes and tomato are acidic in their basic state, but once metabolized by the body have an alkalising effect. The high alkaline mineral content of these foods means that once consumed and metabolized they increase the alkalinity of the cells of the body. On the other hand, because of the sugar content, an orange stays acidic and has an acidic effect on your body.
***Do not leave the lemon in lemon water. If you are going to drink the water right away by all means leave it in, but if you are making up a batch for later, the water can easily get too lemon-y if you leave in the squeezed lemon chunks and more importantly, unless you have REALLY washed the lemons or have bought organic, pesticides and chemicals could leach out of the rind and into your water if they are left soaking for too long, losing the lemon water benefits.

Maybe there are no surprises in here for you but I think it is always good to review our daily habits and eating is certainly a habit that has a huge effect on our physical and mental health. If you are gulping down carbonated sodas and vending machine snacks every day, you might want to give lemon water and nuts or kale chips a shot. A small change in eating habits can make a big improvement in the way you feel.

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