Superfoods for a super you.
The following healthy power foods can claim big bragging rights: They can fend off serious diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease; fortify your immune system; protect and smooth your skin; and help you lose weight or stay slim.
If you’re eating most of these healthy foods already, good for you! If not, now’s the time to load up your shopping cart and supercharge your health.
Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer (one yolk supplies 25% of your daily need) and antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Though many of us have shunned whole eggs because of their link to heart disease risk, there’s actually substantial evidence that for most of us, eggs are not harmful but healthy.
2. Greek yogurt
Yogurt is a great way to get calcium, and it’s also rich in immune-boosting bacteria.
But next time you hit the yogurt aisle, pick up the Greek kind—compared with regular yogurt, it has twice the protein (and 25% of women over 40 don’t get enough). Look for fat-free varieties like Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt (90 calories and 15 g of protein per 5.3-ounce serving).
3. Lean beef
Lean beef is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron there is.
(Too-little iron can cause anemia.) Adding as little as 1 ounce of beef per day can make a big difference in the body’s ability to absorb iron from other sources, says Mary J. Kretsch, PhD, a researcher at the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA.
Beef also packs plenty of zinc (even minor deficiencies may impair memory) and B vitamins, which help your body turn food into energy.
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than beans. One cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 g fiber.
They’re also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most women fall short on—calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.
The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming at least 3 cups of beans a week—3 times the measly 1 cup we usually get. Keep your cupboards stocked with all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc.
Use them in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, and veggie chili or pureed for sandwich spreads.
5. Edamame and tofu
Soy’s days as a cure-all may be over, but edamame still has an important place on your plate. Foods such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame help fight heart disease when they replace fatty meats and cheeses, slashing saturated fat intake.
Soy also contains heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, a good amount of fiber, and some important vitamins. Soy’s isoflavones, or plant estrogens, may also help prevent breast cancer.
Some researchers believe these bind with estrogen receptors, reducing your exposure to the more powerful effects of your own estrogen, says Prevention advisor Andrew Weil, MD.
Flaxseed is the most potent plant source of omega-3 fats.
Studies indicate that adding flaxseed to your diet can reduce the development of heart disease by 46%—it helps keep red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries. It may also reduce breast cancer odds.
In one study, women who ate 10 g of flaxseed (about 1 rounded tablespoon) every day for 2 months had a 25% improvement in the ratio of breast cancer-protective to breast cancer-promoting chemicals in their blood.
Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day on your cereal, salad, or yogurt.
These smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of not only MUFAs but other key nutrients as well.
One Ohio State University study found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa, it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids, plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
“Avocados are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet.
Read more on Prevention.com