Many foods give you some health benefits, but certain foods are positively jam-packed with powerful nutrients that support optimal health. These amazing foods give you the most bang for your buck, making every bite count. Maximize nutrient density and health benefits with the following incredibly nourishing, delicious, and easy to prepare foods!
Oily fish like salmon is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosohexanoic acid (DHA). These omega-3s play a starring role in the picture of health because they support a balanced inflammatory response in the body. This is important for both short and long-term inflammation. For example, when you get hurt, a temporary inflammatory response is needed to heal the injury. This short-term inflammation is intended to subside after the healing process is complete. However, without adequate EPA and DHA, the body is unable to return to normal and inflammation persists, leaving the entire body in a pro-inflammatory state. It is this long-term “silent” inflammation that is problematic and can take a serious toll on your health. If proper levels of EPA and DHA are not maintained, your whole body, including the liver, brain, heart and muscles, pays the price. By getting enough EPA and DHA in your diet, you can support the balanced inflammation levels that foster a healthy body and mind. If your immune system is in good shape, try salmon rare or medium rare for the best health benefits.
Vibrantly colored berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, not only pack a color punch, but pack on the health benefits, too. Full of antioxidants, these red and purple fruits support cardiovascular, visual, mental and skin health, just to name a few. The antioxidant pigments are actually what give berries their trademark colors. Red and purple berries are bursting with anthocyanins, antioxidant pigments known to be free radical fighters. Free radicals wreak havoc on the body, damage tissues, and accelerate the aging process. Eating berries every day is a tasty way to rejuvenate your skin, eye, brain, and heart health.
Ginger and Turmeric Roots
Close botanical relatives that are often found together in flavorful Indian foods, ginger and turmeric contain health-promoting compounds that have been prized for centuries. Ginger, used as a digestive tonic, contains antioxidants galore. Gingerol, the active compound in ginger, is responsible for modulating inflammation and supporting cell health. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. Curcumin is another nutrient that supports balanced inflammatory levels in the body, which are key for maintaining overall health.
Another herb that has historical roots in ancient times, garlic has a reputation not only for warding off vampires, but also as valuable household remedy. Recent research provides evidence for its health-supportive properties. Allicin, garlic’s best-known active compound, has been studied for its ability to support cardiovascular, immune system, inflammatory and cellular health. It may not freshen your breath, but garlic can help to refresh your health.
The flesh and peels of citrus fruits contain flavonoids, which are compounds plants produce for various purposes, such as protection from pests, disease, and sun damage. Flavonoids protect human health in similar ways by supporting the health of the skin, heart, bones and other cells. In addition to health-boosting flavonoids, citrus fruits are full to the brim with vitamin C. One of the body’s most important antioxidants, vitamin C supports immune, cardiovascular, and cellular health. In fact, without vitamin C, the immune system cannot function properly. Whether you eat them whole or juice them, citrus fruits are a sweet way to take care of your health year-round.
Vitamin E is naturally found in high concentrations in whole nuts, with some of the best sources being almonds and hazelnuts. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body, protecting against free radical damage and supporting cellular health. This vitamin supports the health of the immune and cardiovascular systems, as well as the body’s detoxification process. From the outside-in and the inside-out, eating nuts is a great way to get your vitamin E levels up. So, go nuts!
It is easy to incorporate all of these versatile and nutrient-dense foods into your diet. This recipe includes all of the power-packed foods above in one delicious meal!
Salmon Berry Salad with Almonds and Citrus Vinaigrette (serves 2)
- 2, 6 oz. salmon filets
- 1 small clamshell of organic spinach and arugula blend
- ½ cup organic blackberries, rinsed and dried
- ½ cup organic raspberries, rinsed and dried
- ½ cup organic blueberries, rinsed and dried
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. ginger powder
- ½ tsp. turmeric powder
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Dash of salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 large orange, juiced
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Place salmon skin-side down on foil, top with olive oil, garlic, ginger and turmeric powders, cayenne, salt and pepper.
- Place salmon under broiler and cook for four minutes per side. Oven broilers vary, so watch closely; salmon overcooks quickly.
- While salmon is in the broiler, place arugula and spinach, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries in a large bowl. Toss together lightly.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.
- When salmon is done cooking, place on top of berry salad mixture, top with almonds and drizzle with dressing.
For more recipes, check out Natural Grocers.com.
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- Wilson, L. (2013). EPA & DHA: The Fats of Life. August-September 2013 Health Hotline.
- Allbritton, J. (2009). Blueberries. Natural Grocers Nutrition Education Department.
- Allbritton, J. (2010). Age Decelerating Antioxidant-Rich Foods. Natural Grocers Nutrition Education Department.
- Pratt, H. (2013). Garlic. Natural Grocers Nutrition Education Department.
- Briggs, S. (2008). Citrus Bioflavonoids. Natural Grocers Nutrition Education Department.
- Allen, J. (2004). Vitamin C. Natural Grocers Nutrition Education Department
- Allen, J. (2003). Vitamin E Fact Sheet. Natural Grocers Nutrition Education Department.