10 Super Foods for a Super You in 2012

From Desiree Nielsen, RD, Choices Markets Dietitian

A healthful diet composed of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is a “super food” diet. Foods close to nature are full of energizing nutrition.  However, here we highlight a few foods that are specifically beneficial to you in your weight loss efforts. Consider incorporating these delicious foods into your everyday diet to super charge your eating plan. Not a fan of some of these choices? While nutritious options, they are not the only game in town so we have provided great alternatives for you to try.

1.    Lentils

Lentils are a super star choice for weight loss: low in calories, lentils are high in plant-based protein and one of the highest fibre foods on the planet. They also contain one of the healthiest forms of carbohydrate – slowly digesting and mineral rich.

Not a lentil fan? Try white cannellini beans, chick peas or black beans.

2.    Barley

Barley is a traditional grain that deserves a second look. High in soluble fibre, barley has been studied for its ability to lower blood sugar. A very filling and protein rich grain, barley is a great addition to soups, casseroles and as an economical substitute for rice.

Other great grains: quinoa, steel cut oats, chia seeds and wheat berries.

3.    Pears

Contrary to popular belief, some fruits and vegetables aren’t really that high in fibre. Pears contain an impressive 4-5 grams of fibre per fruit. In addition, pears have only a moderate impact on blood sugar, unlike tropical fruits like mango and bananas.

More lower glycemic choices: apples, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

4.    Greek Yogurt

An easy way to sneak more lean protein into your breakfast, three-quarters of a cup of fat free Greek yogurt contains an impressive 18 grams of protein. Don’t be fooled by some other “Greek style” yogurts. While true Greek yogurt is a low fat product made from strained non fat milk, other products on the market can be very high in fat thanks to an extra helping of cream.

Great lower fat dairy proteins: plain organic non fat yogurt, 1% cottage cheese and skim milk.

5.    Almonds

Almonds are a great snack alternative to the ubiquitous granola bar or muffin. Low in carbohydrates and rich in protein and heart healthy monounsaturated fat, almonds fill you up without filling you out. A quarter cup of raw almonds will help keep hunger at bay in between meals and provide calcium and vitamin E in addition to other micronutrients.

Enjoy a variety of nuts and seeds: raw walnuts, raw pumpkin seeds and raw sunflower seeds.

6.    Eggs

Eggs win the gold star for being a convenient, inexpensive and versatile food for weight loss. 2 eggs provide 12 grams of protein for just 140 calories and those bright yellow yolks help protect your vision with a helping of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

Other easy protein fixes: hemp seeds and 1% cottage cheese.

7.    Halibut

Fish is a great source of lean protein but as we choose fish we must be aware of the environmental impact of eating this treasured resource. Many of our most popular fish choices wreak havoc on our oceans via unsustainable fishing practices. Pacific halibut have an easy-to-enjoy mild taste and are a great source of lean protein.

Sustainable (and healthy!) seafood options include: wild pacific salmon, sardines, B.C. spot prawns and sablefish (black cod).

8.    Sprouted Grain Bread

Whole grain bread is great but sprouted grain is even better. Instead of grinding the grain into flour, grains are sprouted then ground into the bread dough. Sprouted grain breads have much higher protein and fibre content than typical whole grain breads – which means they help fill you up and keep your blood sugars stable.

Keep those grains sprouted: try sprouted grain wraps, cereals and breads.

9.    Spinach

Spinach wins high marks because it is nutrient rich and very low in calories. Two cups of spinach contain a host of nutrients including calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium for a paltry 14 calories. Spinach in particular shines because it has twice the iron of other greens and fewer phytates which can hinder mineral absorption.

Get your daily greens: kale, Swiss chard, collards, broccoli, bok choy.

10. Carrots

Carrots are nutritious, low in calories and provide a satisfying crunch that beats the munchies any time. Not only good for your eyes; the beta carotene and vitamin C in carrots help keep skin strong and healthy and polyphenols help to support heart health. Swap your usual starchy snack for carrots as you dip, munch and crunch!

Other healthy munchies: celery, apples, kohlrabi, snap peas.

Follow Desiree on Twitter here –> @DesireeRD

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