Add these superfoods in 2020
I’ve given up on lofty New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I’ve found I’m much more likely to follow through with small tweaks to current habits. Examples include drinking 16 oz. of water before my morning coffee or adding new healthy recipes to our regular meal rotations.
This year I plan to add more superfoods. While the term has been overused by some marketers, the concept is fairly straight forward. Superfoods are essentially foods in their natural state (unprocessed) that are nutrient-dense.
The ANDI system, developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, ranks the nutrient density of foods from 1 (worst) to 1000 (best) https://www.drfuhrman.com/elearning/eat-to-live-blog/128/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods. This system takes into consideration a wide range of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. There are other considerations that aren’t factored into this system, such as fatty acid profile and glycemic index. However, this system is a great starting point, especially if specific health conditions aren’t steering towards a particular diet.
I’ve chosen foods from 5 groups that rank high on the ANDI scale and are relatively easy to find and/or easy to work with. These categories include green vegetables, other vegetables, seeds and nuts, beans, and fruit.
Green Vegetables – Watercress
Watercress ranks at the top with an ANDI score of 1000, along with kale, chard, and collard greens. Watercress contains bone-building calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and immune-enhancing vitamin A and C. Additionally, watercress contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which may reduce the risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. It contains anti-cancer phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which neutralize carcinogens.
Considered a vegetable by some, an herb by others, watercress has a spicy flavor. It can be used in salads, pureed into soups, tossed into a stir fry, or made into pesto.
Other Vegetables – Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi ranks in at 352 on the ANDI scale. It is a member of the cabbage family and contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals, including isothiocyanates as well as indoles and sulforaphane. It contains fiber and is a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Both the bulb and leaves are edible; the bulb needs to be peeled. Tasty recipes include using kohlrabi raw, sliced thinly and served in a salad with apple, walnuts, goat cheese, and lemon; grilled, or included in a winter soup.
Seeds and Nuts – Pecans
Pecans have an ANDI rating of 124. I’ve typically chosen walnuts (ANDI of 34) over pecans due to walnut’s fatty acid profile (high omega-3) and for its brain benefits. However, pecans are a great nut choice in their own right. They have a high monounsaturated fat content, similar to olive oil. In addition to protein, pecans have a high content of vitamin E, potassium, and phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels. Pecans are best eaten shortly after harvest before the oils can oxidize. Frozen, they will last for up to a year. Smoothies, salads, and snacks are an easy way to incorporate this nutritional nut.
Beans – Lentils
Lentils rank towards the top of the bean category with an ANDI rating of 104. For those who tend to avoid this food category, lentils are easier to digest than many other beans. They have high soluble fiber content, creating a low glycemic load. This helps to even out blood sugar levels. A cup of cooked lentils contains 18g of protein, and they are a great source of folate, iron, and manganese. Lentils are easy to cook and use; they make a wonderful addition to soups, stews, curries, salads, and roasted veggies.
Fruit – Goji berries
Goji berries are a nutritional powerhouse, with balanced macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) and are a source of soluble fiber. Their ANDI rating is 114, just below blueberries (132) and pomegranate (119). They are used in Chinese medicine (Gou Qi Zi) as a general anti-aging tonic and to improve eyesight. Goji berries contain 17 amino acids, including 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, as well as a large variety of antioxidants including beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. They also provide many vitamins and trace minerals such as vitamin C, zinc, and iron. Dried goji berries are easy to find, and can be added to salads, smoothies, trail mix, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Best wishes for health in 2020!
For educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.