You’ve probably seen troubling headlines recently about pink slime in ground beef and concerns that drinking too much coffee leads to depression. What you probably haven’t seen, however, are glowing stories about super-foods that can do no wrong. I’m talking about fruits and vegetables that standby like wallflowers when they actually deserve attention for being the nutritional superstars they are.
You might think this green, leafy vegetable is meek and delicate, but in fact it’s the go-to source for flavonoids, a powerhouse among antioxidants. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating more watercress can lower the risk of cancer by decreasing DNA damage to blood cells. It doesn’t hurt that watercress is also packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B1, B6, K, E, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium.
These gorgeous root vegetables contain compounds shown to protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer. The pigment that gives beets their rich, purple-crimson color is betacyanin, a champion cancer-fighting agent.
Everyone knows this member of cruciferous cabbage family, but few know that it’s a fantastic source of both calcium plus vitamin C, which does double-duty by boosting calcium absorption. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin A, folate and fiber, and at just 20 calories per cup it’s one of the very best super-foods for weight-loss.
Not only are kiwis the perfect combo of sweet and tart, these fuzzy wonders are among the most nutritionally dense fruits anywhere, and their bright emerald flesh is chock full of antioxidants. Eat just one large kiwi and you’ll meet your daily quota for vitamin C. And you get fiber, potassium and some vitamin A and E to boot.
There’s a lot a little ginger can do. You’ve probably heard that ginger can help soothe a queasy stomach, but did you know it can help relieve a nasty migraine? Recently, Danish researchers discovered that ginger blocks prostaglandins, the culprit that causes inflammation of blood vessels in the brain and sparks a migraine.
Tip: You’re sure to find these grocery all-stars at your supermarket, but why not nab them super-fresh and in their most perfect, nutritious state? For that, become a “locovore” who shops nearby farmer’s markets for locally produced fruits, vegetables and organic dairy products.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.