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South Texas Living


Healthy Living: 10 overlooked ‘super foods’




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February 12, 2014 | 6,014 views | Post a comment

Do you know what’s in your fridge? Believe it or not, there are many ordinary foods in there that have extraordinary nutritional value. Whether it’s a vegetable or seed, these foods can add flavor and health benefits to any meal or snack. TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, examines ten “super foods” that you already have at home.

Beans. Beans (also known as legumes), including kidney, black, white, and red beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are a powerful source of protein and complex carbohydrates, as well as fiber and important vitamins and minerals. Eating beans has been proven to help reduce cholesterol levels, body weight, the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some instances of cancer. Add a variety of beans to your meal, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

Celery. Celery is a simple, yet important vegetable, offering vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can reduce cholesterol and protect against cancer. Add celery to soups, stews, meats, side dishes, and other meals.

Garlic. With a distinct flavor and fragrance, garlic contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties that protect against heart disease, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and provide anti-clotting features. It also offers vitamins C and B6, manganese, and selenium.

Onion. Whether they’re sliced, diced, chopped, or pureed, onions have a pungent flavor and a lot of nutrition, containing fiber, minerals, and vitamins C and B6. There has also been research to learn more about onions’ polyphenol and sulfur compounds, which may reduce the risk of cancer and boost immune function and heart health.

Peas. Green and yellow vegetables, including green peas, are often associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. Garden, snow, snap, dried, and other varieties of peas are also loaded with vitamins A, C, K, and B, minerals, fiber, and protein. They are a great source for eye-healthy compounds beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Include peas in a soup or stew, toss them into a salad, or eat them as a snack.

Black pepper. This common spice is a great way to boost a meal’s flavor without adding calories. Also, capsaicin, the substance that gives pepper its heat, is known for its anti-cancer properties and inflammation reduction, which is the root of chronic disease. Use ground, cracked, or whole versions of pepper.

Bell pepper. Bell peppers come in a variety of vibrant colors -- green, red, yellow, orange, and purple. Peppers offer powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Enjoy cooked or raw peppers and their many health benefits.

Sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which serves as an antioxidant and contains anti-inflammatory properties. They also offer B vitamins, heart-healthy polyunsaturated oil, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and phytosterols, a compound known to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Add sunflower seeds to a fresh salad, mix them into chicken salad, sprinkle them over meat, or grind them up for a spread.

Sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are a rich source of copper, which can provide arthritis relief. They also contain calcium and magnesium, which may lower blood pressure, protect against osteoporosis, and more. Mix them with steamed vegetables, sautéed fish or chicken, or add sesame seeds to homemade bread.

Canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are not only a versatile ingredient, but they are also a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients, including lycopene, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and iron. Keep some in your pantry for pasta and rice dishes, soups, stews, casseroles, ethnic meals, and other concoctions
 

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