If you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you may be confused by all the claims made about health food. It seems like every week a new food is touted as a “superfood”, and a new concept about how we should eat is introduced. How can you distinguish the truth about health food when there is so much hype? Relax. It’s easy to learn some simple facts about food, and determine the best things to eat for a healthy, balanced life.
Some foods really are superfoods.
- Quinoa is at the top of our list, because it truly is an amazing food. Often confused for a grain, this versatile seed can be used in salads, veggie burgers, and much more. It’s a complete protein, and is high in magnesium, phosphorus, folate, fiber, and other important nutrients, and has a low glycemic index.
- Chia Seeds can be used in smoothies, sauces, and more, without disturbing the flavor. They’re rich in fiber, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin, and have more calcium than milk. They’ve also got omega-3 fatty acids, which make them a great health food choice. Unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds can be easily incorporated into food, with no need for grinding.
- Wheat Germ has been on the public radar for a while, which makes sense, because it’s a legitimate health food. The inner-most layer of wheat, it’s high in fiber, with monounsaturated fats and protein. It’s easy to eat, because you can sprinkle it in foods like oatmeal, cereal, or salad, or even a peanut butter sandwich, but you can also use it as breading for meat. It’s crunchy with a mild flavor, and a great way to easily add some extra nutrition.
- Avocados and Coconut Oil are both sources of healthy fat. Avocados are delicious and nutritious, containing vitamins K, C, E, B5, and B6, as well as potassium and folate, and they’re easy to eat in salads, sandwiches, or alone. Coconut oil is an antioxidant that can also boost your immunity, thyroid function, and blood sugar control. You can use it for baking, cooking, and even in salads or added to oatmeal.
Other foods’ claims are less impressive.
- Spirulina is a dark green algae, usually dried and powdered. It’s extremely high in protein, and has beta carotene and iron. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive, and if you eat animal products, you can find easier sources of these nutrients for much less money. Unless you’re a vegan, it’s really not worth it.
- Acai Berries are praised for their high levels of antioxidants. While this claim is true, but other berries, like blueberries and raspberries, are equally high in antioxidants, but easier to come by and cheaper.
- Agave Nectar is billed as a natural substitute, but actually is comprised of 70-80% fructose. That’s more than what’s found in high-fructose corn syrup! Worse, agave nectar has no nutrients. If you’re looking for a sweetener to take the place of sugar, you’re better off with raw honey, which has anti-viral, antibacterial, antifungal properties, is an antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, and helps alleviate allergies.
- Skim Milk doesn’t have the fat of whole milk, but it loses vitamins, protein and calcium in processing. It’s then fortified with synthetic vitamins to replace what’s been lost, but the body doesn’t absorb these as well. What’s more, it’s high in calories and sugar. A better option? Almond milk. Low in calories, carbs, and saturated fats, almond milk supplies calcium, as well as vitamins A, D, and E.
- Margarine without trans-fats may not actually touted as a health food, but it has long been seen as a lower fat option to butter. In reality, butter is a better bet! High in vitamins A, D, E, and K, butter also contains trace minerals like manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium, as well as iodine. It’s good for skin health, cognition and the immune system, and can even boost your metabolism.
The secret of healthful eating is to eat a well-balanced diet, not getting caught up in the hype of superfoods or diet trends. Opt for natural, whole foods, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, choosing a variety of colors to work in a wide range of nutrients. At our clinic, we strive to help patients live lives of balance and wellness. Embracing an integrated approach to healthcare, we work with patients to help them learn to meet their body’s needs, rather than just addressing symptoms and ailments. For more information on how we can help you achieve your wellness goals, visit our website or call for a free consultation.