It’s not all deep-friend and butter-crusted. Southern cooking gets a bad rap in the world of health, and in many ways, deservedly so. Between our battered chicken and hearty loafs of corn bread, we’ve got fatty foods that have been busting belts for years. But if you’ve got a hankering for a down home spread, there are some Southern staples that can keep you lean and healthy.
High in carbs, yet low in fat, this Southern grape is a great quick snack for an athletic boost. They’ve also been found to have more antioxidants than blueberries and raspberries and are a great source of dietary fiber. They also help lower cholesterol and prevent the growth of abnormal cells.
It’s an old Southern superstition that welcoming the New Year with a bowl of black-eyed peas will bring a prosperous 365 ahead. If you’re into this lovely legume, you’re in luck. They’re rich in magnesium, an antioxidant that’s good for bone health and acts as an enzyme to the body’s chemical reactions.
Although it’s not Popeye’s power food of choice, collard greens are just as good for you. This soul food standard is packed with phytonutrients that reduce the risk of numerous kinds of cancer. They’re also packed with enough vitamins and minerals to make your bottle of Centrum jealous-one cup includes 100 percent of your daily value of vitamins, A, C, and K, as well as a hearty helping of B2, B6, and E. Sautee them slow on low heat with some extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Mmm, mmm, good.
If you’re a vegetarian, you might be short on some proteins. Pecans can fill the void. This native Southern nut is also full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats that can lower your cholesterol. They are also a good weight-control snack.
Don’t just save sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. The candy-colored taters are one of the richest antioxidant vegetables you can gobble. Dig into the soft orange center and get a good dose of manganese, copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and iron. They’re also bursting with beta-carotene for the ultimate Vitamin A boost, and they also act as a good source of Vitamin C, both of which go after your body’s cell-damaging free radicals. A recent study has also put sweet potatoes in the category of anti-diabetic foods that proved they helped stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance.