There are hundreds of foods and herbs on this great planet that we can eat and nourish ourselves with. We often ask the question of which ones are most beneficial to our bodies. While there are a ton of healthy foods, it’s easiest to narrow down the list to about 10 foods that will not only satisfy the palate, but revitalize the body with all their benefits. This is especially helpful for people just getting into the pace of healthier eating.
After much research, and plenty of experimental recipes, I have found the below foods to have the most benefit while still tasting great. Included are some of my favorite ways to prepare the food in order to help get your own culinary creative juices flowing. This is not an exhaustive list of super foods. Start small and make your own list of good nutritious, tasteful foods as you learn what your body and taste buds love.
Number 1 – Nuts. Almonds are the best source of nuts out there. They’re packed full of fiber, protein, and vital nutrients like vitamin E, iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. They are loaded with biotin and B2 to help give you an energized feeling. The protein and fiber will help keep you full and satisfied. Almonds have a high amount of unsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to help regulate cholesterol levels.
When shopping for almonds, make sure they don’t have too much salt or aren’t covered in sugar. You could eat them as a snack either alone or mixed with some fruit and granola. You can also crush them up and add them on top of a salad, or use them as a “crust” for meat.
Number 2 – Avocados. People shy away from these nutritious fruits because they have a higher fat content – but it’s the good kind of fat. Monosaturated fats help you feel full longer and keep you energized. They’re rich in potassium, B vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Like almonds, they have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Ohio State University found that the nutrients in avocadoes could stop oral cancer cells from spreading.
Avocadoes are delicious as a guacamole dip with spices and herbs. You could keep it simple and eat it by itself with just a bit of sea salt. You could also slice it up and add it to a sandwich or salad for some extra flavor.
Number 3 – Berries. Generally, all berries are good for you, but blueberries, raspberries and Goji berries have the most nutritious benefit of these bitter-sweet tasty treats. They can help detoxify the body, maintain weight, and build up the immune system. Blueberries have even been shown to help reduce cognitive decline in elderly patients who eat them (along with other berries) regularly. They all carry a significant amount vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.
My favorite thing to do with berries is make them into a fruit salad, add some low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and a bit of organic granola for a tasty parfait. You could also add them to your salads or munch on them as a snack by themselves.
Number 4 – Apples. Apples are the superstars of fruits. They get a lot of attention, and with good reason. They’re loaded with antioxidants and kill off harmful toxins in the body. Some researchers and doctors have dubbed the apple, the “miracle fruit,” because they have been shown to extend lifespan, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of stroke. High in fiber and vitamin C, they have earned their place on the super food chart.
There are a number of things you can do with apples. There are bitter and there are sweet, there are red and there are green. Try adding some sliced green apples to the crock pot with chicken and sugar-free apricot preserves. Or, chop them up and add them to salads, dip them in peanut butter, or smother them in cinnamon. Aside from frying them and pouring sugar all over them, anyway you eat them is good.
Number 5 – Sweet potatoes. These have a wide range of benefits. They have a significant amount of vitamins A, B, and C, and provide ample amounts of fiber, beta carotene, and healthy carbohydrates (the kind that burn into energy). They also contain a good amount of iron, calcium, and protein. Sweet potatoes keep you energized and full, can prevent and reduce risk of heart attack, keep the skin looking healthy, and boost the immune system.
There are so many ways to make sweet potatoes. My favorite way is to slice them up into French fry size, toss them in some olive oil, salt, pepper, curry, and garlic powder, and bake them until the edges are crispy and the middle is soft. Mashed or baked with added butter and cinnamon are good choices too.
Number 6 – Leafy greens. Foods like spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage (to name just a few) are immensely beneficial to the body and mind. Chock-full of essential nutrients like vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, fiber, niacin, zinc, folate, and selenium, they offer a huge range of benefits from helping with bowel irregularity to fighting cancer (steamed broccoli). Leafy greens have been known to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and are the supreme antioxidants. Some of them, like kale and raw broccoli, provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Recent developments show that cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts help fight osteoporosis.
These vegetables are best eaten raw or steamed just lightly, because they lose some of the nutrients in the cooking process. A nice spinach, kale, and berry salad with a fruity dressing is a wonderful spring or summer dish.
Number 7: Asparagus. This is a vegetable that should make it to the plate at least three times a week. It is a hugely detoxifying vegetable, flushing out toxins and purging the body of excess water. It also has some pretty amazing anti-aging benefits with the excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, B, C, E, and K to name just a few.
These are delicious steamed and then seasoned with salt and pepper. They can also be marinated in garlic olive oil and grilled or baked with preferred seasonings, too. They make the perfect side dish to a Salmon or lean meat dinner.
Number 8 – Quinoa. This “newer” superstar to the food list has been getting more and more popular over the years. Quinoa is a pure grain that offers a great complement to a meal, or even as the main ingredient because of its high fiber and quality protein content. It has a good amount of essential minerals like manganese, zinc, magnesium, and folate as well. The quality of the protein in this grain, along with the minerals, makes it a great substitute in place of rice and potatoes.
Quinoa can be ground into flour to add nutritious richness, but it’s most often cooked like rice or couscous. You can add butter and seasonings, or eat it plain. My favorite recipe is to make it into a Tabbouleh, mixed with seasonal herbs and vegetables for added flavor.
Number 9 – Wild Salmon and oily fish. Other examples of oily fish include mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, and anchovies. These take an acquired taste, but well worth the benefits. With the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, these foods are the ultimate heart healthy items. They have also been found to help with inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Interestingly, UCLA researchers found that people with prostate cancer who ate these oily fish on a regular basis had significant slowing of the cancer’s progression.
Sardines and anchovies are delicious additions to any salad or sandwich. Baked almond-crusted trout is worth trying. You can add other spices or herbs to the chopped almonds too. Broiled mackerel covered in olive oil, a tiny bit of salt, pepper, and lemon is a household favorite. Wild salmon is what is eaten most often, however. We smoke it to add to a dip, bake it for a great entrée, or sauté it for a salad. Seasonings most often used with these fish are garlic, paprika, and Old Bay.
Number 10 – Grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry. These meats and poultry provide less chemicals and fat content. They have exceedingly higher levels of omega 3’s as well. The grass-fed red meats are chock-full of CLA, the type of fat that is well-known for its anti-cancer benefits. They are a superb source of protein and vitamin B12. These wholly organic meats and poultry are coming from animals that eat a natural and holistic diet, so there are no hormones or antibiotics to worry about. They are GMO-free.
These meats and poultry can be cooked the same way you would make regular supermarket meat, chicken, or turkey. Don’t fry the foods, however, because that adds a significant amount of unhealthy fats. Frying foods can very quickly make a supremely healthy super food into a health risk.
Dr. Franklin’s list of superfoods
Peak Health – Grass-fed and Pasture-Raised