The 10 Spot: Foods to Eat This Year
Dec 28, 2018 05:08PM
Fibrous foods never go out of style! Most of us don’t eat enough fiber, and it’s incredibly important for our gut (makes the intestines function better, cleans the colon, and reduces constipation), microbiome (microorganisms that protect against germs and break down food to release energy), cardiovascular, and immune health. So pack in those veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains whenever and wherever you can.
Adaptogenic herbs are classified as adaptogens, meaning they can “adapt” their function based on our body’s specific needs. When we adapt to our environment, we’re able to better handle whatever life throws at us. Experience an increase in energy and clarity from adaptogenic mushrooms like chaga and reishi or try mushroom coffees that are a tasty and beneficial alternative to the average cup of joe.
2019 should also be the year you discover the benefits of bitter-tasting foods. Greens like arugula, mustard, collard, endive, and spinach all add great flavors to soups, salads, and sandwiches. The bitter elements of foods have health benefits, too—they’re stimulating to the appetite and strengthening to your digestion.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular, neurological, and dermatological health, and a standard American diet is deficient in them. It’s best to obtain healthy fats through your diet via high omega-3, low mercury seafood. The Environmental Working Group’s best choices for safe and healthy seafood are salmon, sardines, mussels, rainbow trout, and Atlantic mackerel.
In addition to serving as another source of omega-3 fatty acids, tree nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios) are also a great source of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, plant sterols, and fiber—all of which can help improve cholesterol levels. They also contain protein, vitamins, and minerals and have been shown to aid in maintaining a healthy weight.
Originating in Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia, kefir, a fermented drink made by adding kefir grains to milk, is becoming increasingly popular in the states—due to its rich probiotic content. It contains up to 61 different strains of bacteria, which is more than most yogurt. It also has antibacterial properties, improves bone health, and improves allergy symptoms…so drink up!
Here’s a mouthwatering one: spices. Get out of your comfort zone and add some spice to your life (and meals) with wonders such as ginger, turmeric, coriander, and cumin to replace the need for all that sugar and sodium in most dishes. These spices and aromatics also have a satiety effect that will leave you feeling full faster.
Dark, leafy greens (spinach, watercress, beet greens, etc.) provide antioxidant properties that activate immune cells and promote cardiovascular health. Green cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy, and collard greens) protect against DNA damage, destroy cancerous cells, and may even prevent cells from becoming cancerous. Tip: Broccoli sprouts are packed with sulforaphane—thought to boost the body’s immune system and protect against cancer.
Sourdough bread can be a good grain choice since it’s made with a probiotic. The end product—after the bread is made—produces lactic acid, which helps make the nutrients we consume be more digestible and absorbable. It’s also better tolerated by people who are sensitive to gluten (hooray!).
Beans are the bee’s knees. A source of protein and fiber, they’re also low in fat and sodium, have no cholesterol, and can decrease the risk of diabetes. Fun fact: Beans are the only food group found in all five of the Blue Zones, i.e. areas in the world where people reach age 100 at 10 times the average rate in the world. What’s more, they’re equally good for the environment, since they use a fraction of the planet’s resources when compared to beef.
By Tara Mendanha
Special thanks to the following contributors:
Shideh Chinichian, MD, family medicine physician, Mercy Medical Group, El Dorado Hills; Amy Triplett, RD, and Kari Holmstedt, RD, Clinical Outpatient Dietitians, Marshall Medical Center, Placerville; Rachael Dardano, CEO and Owner, Internal Wisdom, Folsom; Kathryn Boulter, ND, Resident Doctor, Revolutions Naturopathic, Folsom, and Dawn Alden, ND, Resident Doctor, Revolutions Nauropathic, Roseville; Michael Jacobs, Grocery Buyer, Sunrise Natural Foods, Roseville; and Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD, Director, Integrative Medicine Program, Institute for Population Health Improvement, University of California Davis