Beginner’s Guide to Nutrition: Superfoods Simplified

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There’s a lot of hype surrounding so-called superfoods and their medicinal properties. It seems there’s a new study claiming the cancer-fighting properties of exotic fruit almost daily. Take away the questionable “miracle-working” claims of superfoods and what you’re left with is a group of veggies, fruits, and meats that are dense with key nutrients that many Americans are deficient in because of our imbalanced diets. And not all superfoods are exotic and expensive (we’re looking at you, acai). Most are everyday veggies and fruits you can pick up at your local farmer’s market. Here are some of the best sources for the key nutrients you need according to the USDA’s dietary guidelines.

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THE SUPERFOOD MENU
Here’s a day’s worth of meals (including snacks and dessert) using nutrient-dense foods that are easy to find in the supermarket. If a fruit or vegetable is out of season in your area, don’t be afraid of the frozen option.

“Most frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as fresh,” says Casey Potts, a sports nutritionist working with Carmichael Training in Asheville. “Freezing them actually locks in their nutrients, and they’re cheaper than their fresh counterparts.”

Breakfast
Packet of plain oatmeal with cranberries on top

Nutritional Kick: Oatmeal has repeatedly been proven to lower cholesterol, but a single serving also has 5 grams of protein and 15 percent of your daily fiber. Cranberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods available and are also high in vitamin C and fiber.

Snack
Low-fat plain yogurt sweetened with blueberries

Nutritional Kick: Blueberries are the original superfood, packing antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium in a tiny punch. The plain yogurt adds calcium, protein, and probiotics for a digestive and immunity boost.

Lunch
Berry salad with strawberries, spinach, walnuts, cheese, and lime juice for dressing.

Nutritional Kick: Walnuts are a good plant source of protein, omega 3’s, B vitamins, and antioxidants. The cheese adds protein, strawberries are packed with antioxidants, and a half-cup of spinach has 146 mg of calcium and plenty of vitamin K.

Snack
Apple slices dipped in almond butter.

Nutritional Kick: A medium apple has 20 percent of your daily fiber, 10 percent of your vitamin C as well as quercetin, a flavonoid that has been linked to increased endurance in athletes. Dipping the apple in almond butter adds protein, vitamin E, and iron and B2.

Dinner
Grilled wild Alaskan salmon, red sweet peppers, baked sweet potato.

Nutritional kick: 4oz. of salmon packs vitamin D, B12, B6, and omega 3. The red peppers have all the vitamin C you need and the sweet potato provides ample potassium.

The Cheater’s Dessert
Dark chocolate dipped in almond butter

Nutritional Kick: Dark chocolate contains the potent antioxidant flavonols (also found in red wine and cranberries), which help maintain healthy blood pressure.

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