Can you eat your way to amazing health? Nutrition expert Joy Bauer shares her top superfoods to slash cholesterol, ease aches, rev energy levels, and more:
1. Coffee - Few things jolt you awake on a sluggish morning like a hot cup of coffee. But it turns out your daily brew is doing more than just fueling your day. It can actually boost your memory and reduce your risk of dementia later in life. There’s growing evidence that the benefits of coffee extend well beyond a short-lived improvement in attention and focus. New research suggests that regular coffee drinkers may be at lower risk for cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia as they age. Scientists believe the synergistic effects of caffeine and antioxidants found in coffee beans may be responsible for the beverage’s brain benefits. Just make sure not to load up the sugar or cream - use fat-free, 1 percent, or soy milk and no more than two teaspoons of sugar in your morning mugful.
2. Ginger - This pungent, spicy root contains chemicals that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications, so it has potential to help relieve arthritis pain. If you’re dealing with aching joints, try adding a hit of ginger to your menu every day. Getting your daily dose can be as easy as steeping a few slices of ginger root in hot water to make a delicious “tea.” Also try grating fresh ginger into stir-fries or stews, and adding fresh or ground ginger to smoothies, oatmeal, or a healthy muffin or fruit crisp recipe. Or nibble on a slice or two of crystallized ginger to satisfy a sweet craving after dinner.
3. Sweet Potatoes - This spud is rich in two blood pressure-lowering nutrients: potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps offset sodium’s negative effects on blood pressure, and potatoes (both sweet and white) are one of the richest sources of this beneficial mineral. Diets high in magnesium have also been linked to lower risk of developing high blood pressure. To make your own healthy French “fries”: Cut sweet potatoes into thin strips, coat with oil spray and desired seasonings, and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until brown and crispy.
4. Egg Whites - The perfect base for a diabetes-friendly meal because they’re low in carbs and calories (just 17 per white) and rich in high-quality protein, a winning formula that helps keep your blood sugar steady and weight in check. For breakfast, have an omelet with four egg whites (or one whole egg plus two to three egg whites), plenty of vegetables, and some reduced-fat cheese. For lunch, make a vegetarian burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, sautéed peppers and onions, and spicy salsa folded inside a low-carb wrap. Hard-boiled whites are also a great snack option. Stuff the centers with a dab of hummus for a healthy take on deviled eggs.
5. Pistachio Nuts - These little powerhouses are a great source of phytosterols, natural plant compounds that block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. They’re also rich in monounsaturated fat, fiber, and antioxidants - all of which are good for heart health. Pistachios are also great for weight control, which is an important health goal for many people with high cholesterol. They have the fewest calories per nut of all varieties (30 nuts have just 100 calories), and peeling the shells slows you down so your snack takes longer to eat, which can translate into fewer
6. Edamame (young soybeans) - Power packed with both protein and fiber - a blood sugar-balancing combination that can help keep bad moods at bay. Extreme or erratic fluctuations in blood sugar can compound stress and leave you feeling irritable and cranky. Munch on edamame pods throughout the day, add shelled edamame to stir fries and salad, or try roasted beans for a satisfying snack with a major crunch.