A Powerful Team of (Food) Superheroes

A Powerful Team of (Food) Superheroes
Posted on July 12, 2015: Health & Nutrition

On the heels of Comic-Con, we've seen a rash of superhero movies set to bombard the local theater. Spiderman, Superman, Avengers, Wolverine and his X-Men cohorts have helped movie studios make billions of dollars and the parade of costumed crime fighters has just begun!

In the coming months and years, dozens of big-budget feature films will feature teams of individuals with incredible powers battling to save the planet and, in some cases, the entire universe, from disaster.

While we're not necessarily the experts on forming the next 'Justice League', here at Diet Direct, we do have some information on a team of superpowered foods that do not require an ultra-level secret clearance to read.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a list of potential produce powerhouses compiled by Dr. Jennifer Di Noia of William Patterson University. Dr. Di Noia ranked various foods (sometimes called "superfoods") by their percentage of 17 nutrients strongly associated with reduced chronic disease risk; some of these nutrients include protein, potassium, calcium, iron, thiamin, B-complex vitamins, zinc and fiber.

The top 16 items on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list are leafy green vegetables. This should come as no surprise as leafy greens truly are rich in a variety of nutrients. Kale came in at #15, Collard greens came in at #10, Romaine lettuce made the countdown at #9, Popeye’s favorite leafy green, Spinach, hit the chart at #5 topped only by Beet greens, Chard, Chinese Cabbage and…

Watercress!

Yes, according to this recently published list, the ever humble watercress is the #1 Powerhouse Fruit or Vegetable.

We’re willing to grant that this is very useful information if you are building a salad or looking to punch up your selection of green veggies.

For instance, the ever ubiquitous Iceberg Lettuce struggled to chart at #29 so adding a little salad green variety can be a very wise choice.

Although salads are a useful part of any healthy eating plan, we think you are more likely to stick to a plan that has a wide ranging selection of flavors and textures. With that in mind, we present a few additional nutritionally dense choices for your summer festivities.

Eggs
In recent decades, people have avoided eggs because of their cholesterol content. Recent studies have shed doubt on this practice. Scientists at the University of North Carolina Fillings Schools of Global Public Health reviewed 16 studies examining the associations of egg consumption with cardiovascular disease and concluded egg consumption is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or cardiac mortality in the general population. Eggs are packed with vitamins, minerals and various super nutrients like Lutein and Zeaxanthine which can protect your eyes and reduce the risk of some serious eye diseases.

Having noted the benefits of eggs, we should also mention that feasting on eggs (or any other food) all day, every day is not a good idea. A little bit of good food goes a long ways. Since eggs may still be a problem for individuals with certain medical conditions, we strongly recommend following the advice of your healthcare provider.

Shellfish
Although they are among the most nutritious foods on the planet, many of us fail to think about shellfish when we’re looking for healthy choices. Clams, for instance, are an incredible source of vitamin B-12. Twenty small clams will give you about 3000% of your Daily Value of this essential vitamin. As an added bonus, those 20 clams also provide almost 300% of your Daily Value of Iron, close to 50 grams of protein and healthy amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A and Calcium.

Looking for a good source of Zinc? Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food. In addition to this vital trace mineral, oysters are also a good source of iron, vitamin B-12 and selenium.

Garlic
Adding a little garlic to some of your favorite summer dishes not only gives them an added burst of flavor but also provides extra nutrition. Fresh garlic is high in vitamin C, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-6, Calcium, Selenium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. To make matters even better, garlic contains a special nutrient called Allicin. Allicin may lower your blood pressure and decrease your blood level of total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol while raising the level of good HDL.

Blueberries
Although blueberries are not as high in vitamins and minerals as the leafy greens that top Dr. Di Noia’s chart, these tasty little spheres bring a lot of other benefits to the table. They are a great source of several powerful antioxidants and various phytochemicals which may boost your health and even help you lose weight.

A 2010 study published by the American Society for Nutrition showed that obese women and men with metabolic syndrome lowered their LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure with the regular consumption of blueberries. Several other studies have shown signs that adding blueberries to the diet of older adults may help improve their memories.

Meal Replacement Shakes and Bars
Summer schedules can get a bit hectic but that is no excuse to ignore your nutritional needs. Fortunately, meal replacement shakes and bars can be a low calorie way to get the essential vitamins and minerals you need to keep your healthy lifestyle on track when you’re on the go. Keep a Meal Replacement Bar or a single-serving meal replacement shakes packet in your travel kit for a quick protein boost.

Single serving, ready-to-drink meal replacement shake bottles are also a great option for people with busy summer schedules. Just pop the top, add water, shake and enjoy for quick nutrition with minimal hassle.

Using these tools will help you avoid some of the numerous unhealthy temptations that will cross your path during the warm weather months.

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