“Superfood” is a term we hear a lot around healthy foods but how many of us actually know what it means and why particular foods are so super? With resolutions on our minds and the launch of HonestlyFIT, I’m taking a moment to break down what it takes to be a superfood and which ones we should all eat more of in 2018! Generally a food qualifies as super when it has been seen to reduce chronic diseases and is packed with key antioxidants, polyphenols (which prevent cell damage), vitamins, and minerals. That is the case with watercress, walnuts, baby bok choy, sesame and seaweed – the 5 superfoods that outshine many of their more famous superfood siblings in terms of gram per gram nutrients. Last week we showed you how to incorporate them into a delicious salad, but they are all so versatile that the options for incorporating them into your diet are endless.
- Watercress – This delicate green delivers a slightly peppery taste that is a surefire way to elevate your salads this year. It is loaded with vitamins A, B6, and B12 which support healthy brain and nervous system function, and phytonutrients that promote cell health by protecting against the damage caused by pollution, pesticides, and normal metabolic activity. Ounce for ounce, watercress has more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. It also delivers immune boosting magnesium and phosphorus, which supports strong teeth and bones. Not to brag or anything, but it’s the fourth highest scoring food in the aggregate nutrient density index (ANDI), which ranks foods on their nutrient per calorie density. If you want to subdue the flavor, or don’t have time to clean and de-stem a large amount of watercress, try mixing it with equal parts spinach.
- Walnuts – Last year it seemed like everyone was fawning over almonds and cashews, but this year walnuts really deserve some recognition because they are actually the healthiest nut! They provide monounsaturated fats, proteins and many omega-3 fatty acids, making them ideal fuel for active days and great for our skin, heart and bone health. I love lightly toasting them and adding them to oatmeal, salads, stir frys or blending them up into a bean-free appetizer dip.
- Baby Bok Choy – Technically a part of the cabbage family, baby bok choy is an incredibly nutritious and versatile vegetable that I gained a whole new appreciation for once I began eating it raw. Like watercress, it ranks very highly on the ANDI thanks to it’s low caloric content and high concentration of: potassium (good for muscles and heart); vitamins A and C; calcium (good for bones); magnesium (regulates nerves and metabolism); and iron (creates oxygen-carrying red blood cells).
- Sesame – Comprised of mostly fat and protein, sesame seeds are a tasty way to add texture and nutrients to your meals. Sesame seeds have lignans which act as antioxidants in our bodies to help fight disease and regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The only food that delivers more of these healthy lignans are flax seeds, a superfood that has been hogging the spotlight for quite some time now! I am obsessed with getting my sesame seed fix through FIT Furikake, sprinkling them onto rice noodle dishes, or incorporating them into homemade low-carb crackers.
- Seaweed – Discovering the health benefits of seaweed was truly delightful because I have a serious addiction to seaweed salads and snacks and it makes my copious consumption seem totally legitimate! Seaweed is similar to sesame in that it delivers lignans and similar to bok choy with its minerals, iodine, iron and calcium which support healthy bones, brains and metabolic function. The green color of seaweed comes from chlorophyll, which is a major detoxifier and blood purifier. Anytime I eat at a Japanese restaurant I opt for a seaweed salad, but when preparing food for myself I get my seaweed nutrients via nori (pictured here) or spirulina.
Cheers to a super 2018!
**Addendum: We photographed this recipe using a combination of watercress and lambs lettuce, which is also highly nutritious.
(Images by HonestlyYUM. In collaboration with HonestlyFIT)