5 Superfoods You're Not Eating
We’ve all heard about the amazing powers of salmon and blueberries, but some commonly neglected nutritional superstars deserve a spot in your shopping cart too. “There are thousands of phytonutrients that have potential health benefits, ” says Beth Reardon, a registered dietitian and the director of nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C. “We are just beginning to understand the synergy between foods and their bioactive compounds.”
Here’s the dish on five standouts that prove it’s smart to think outside the superfood box.
Secret Superfood No. 1: Black Rice
Like its brown counterpart, black rice is packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber. But that’s not all: Researchers from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge recently discovered that it’s a powerful source of antioxidants. In fact, it contains anthocyanins, the same phytochemicals in blueberries that have been shown to help maintain brain function. You can buy the Asian cooking staple online or in an Asian supermarket.
“Try black rice in pumpkin or butternut squash soup -- it’s perfect for fall,” says Reardon.
Secret Superfood No. 2: Cabbage
Cabbage isn’t only for coleslaw. When you chew this cruciferous vegetable (ditto for broccoli and kale), you break down the plant cell walls and trigger the formation of a powerful anti-cancer compound called sulforaphane. “Sulforaphane detoxifies carcinogens and speeds their elimination from the body,” explains Reardon. One study from Georgetown University found that compounds present in cabbage help cells recover from the damage of breast and prostate cancer.
Put cabbage on a burger or toss it into a stir-fry.
Secret Superfood No. 3: Chia Seeds
Flaxseeds aren’t the only game in town: Chia seeds contain antioxidants and heart-healthy omega-3s. In one study in the journal Diabetes Care, people with type 2 diabetes experienced health benefits when they ate chia seeds for 12 weeks. “The soluble fiber in the seeds slows the digestion and absorption of glucose over time,” says Reardon. Study participants also had lower blood pressure.
Sprinkle chia seeds on oatmeal or stir them into yogurt.
Secret Superfood No. 4: Watercress
This peppery green was reportedly used by the Greek physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. “Watercress contains high amounts of antioxidants that protect cell DNA,” says Reardon. In one British Journal of Nutrition study, breast cancer patients who ate watercress had significant levels of compounds that seemed to interfere with cancer cell development.
Add watercress to a turkey sandwich or stir it into pasta dishes.
Secret Superfood No. 5: Black Raspberries
These dark-hued berries have been shown to reduce the risk of oral cancer, as well as esophageal and colon cancer in animal studies -- perhaps due to a compound called ellagic acid. And new research from Ohio State University also shows promise for humans, lowering levels of oxidative stress.
Serve black raspberries with vanilla ice cream or on top of Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey.
Ella Brooks is a New York City-based health writer and editor. Her articles have appeared in such national women's magazines as Shape, Prevention, Natural Health and Woman's Day.
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