Superfoods aren’t just another marketing term nutritionist made up to get people to eat healthier. Although there may not be a standard criteria for them, a good place to start is looking for foods that make us feel good and energized, dietician and TV chef Ellie Krieger said.
“We all kind of want the one secret thing, but there’s no such thing as that,” Krieger told Fox News. “It’s really a balance of foods in your diet, and focusing on some superfoods can lead you in the right direction.”
Most people think of dark-green leafy foods when they think of superfoods, but Krieger, who hosts a cooking show on PBS, "Ellie's Real Good Food," recommends these four foods — which probably you didn't even realize were superfoods.
This type of nut may make you think of a sweet and sugary pecan pie, but pecans are actually chock-full of antioxidants and minerals. It’s particularly rich in vitamin E, a compound that fights off free radicals and has been associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration, fatty liver diseases, cataracts, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
You can use the underrated nut on yogurt or cereal in the morning, Krieger said.
“You can also use it as a coating for fish instead of breadcrumbs and immediately improve nutritional value. The possibilities are endless. You can put it in a smoothie and I’ve actually made pecan butter recently, which is amazingly delicious.”
Oats just sound healthy, and that’s because they are. The whole grain is packed with protein and has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower bad cholesterol and help control blood pressure.
“What makes it shine even more as a superfood is that it has a certain kind of fiber called beta glucans. And this fiber is a soluble fiber, and it has been shown in many studies that it may help prevent heart disease,” Krieger said.
Krieger likes to add oats to her smoothies and has incorporated them into a ‘rissoato’ by using oats instead of rice.
This yogurt-like alternative has been trending over the past year. Kefir, a combination of bacteria and yeast fermentations, is high in nutrients and probiotics, and is ‘super’ beneficial for digestion and gut health.
“I suggest trying to get some kind of probiotic-rich food each day and kefir is one of the most delicious,” Krieger said. “It’s very similar to a drinkable yogurt. It has a lovely, pleasant tartness, and it’s just a wonderful food with so many benefits. Beyond the probiotics, it has protein and calcium just like dairy products in general.”
You can drink Kefir by the glass or use it in a smoothie, Krieger added. Like her Blueberry Blast smoothie, which blends a cup of Kefir, 1 cup of frozen blueberries and 1 teaspoon of honey.
Fish may not make it on too many superfood lists, but tilapia, a light and flaky fish, is packed with protein and is low in calories. Just one 3.5 oz serving (about the size of a checkbook) has 26 grams of protein and only 128 calories. Krieger calls tilapia a “gateway” fish because even non-fish lovers tend to like its mild taste.
“Tilapia is great because it is packed with minerals and lean protein,” said Krieger, who advocates for responsibly-raised fish and is a spokesperson for Regal Springs Tilapia. “People who eat two servings of fish a week are healthier than people who don’t.”
Krieger likes to combine certain superfoods for a doubly-super meal. As an example, she shares her Pecan Crusted Tilapia recipe below:
2/3 cup shelled, unsalted pecans
1/2 teaspoon sweet/mild paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (powder)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 1/4 pounds tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pulse the nuts in a mini food processor or mini chopper to the consistency of very small pebbles — but not as fine as sand.
Transfer to a shallow bowl or a plate, then add the paprika, granulated garlic, thyme, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, and stir to incorporate; this is your coating mixture.
Press both sides of each fish fillet into the pecan mixture.
Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the fish and cook until the underside is browned, about 3 minutes. Turn them over and cook for about 3 more minutes, until the second sides are browned.
Transfer the skillet to the oven; bake (middle rack) for about 3 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.