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No Gimmicks: Meet 4 Hall of Fame, Real Deal Superfoods

Oatmeal_Mangoes_400Trying to eat healthy? Then you’re probably familiar with the term “superfood.” It seems that every other day there’s a new superfood touted as a cure-all.

For example, take kombucha tea, which is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. Although it’s sometimes referred to as kombucha mushroom tea, kombucha is not even a mushroom; it’s simply a colony of bacteria and yeast. Stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer, and improving digestion and liver function are just some of its claims. Unfortunately, there’s no current scientific evidence to support these so-called findings. I say save your money.

There are other trendy foods that are good for you and worth the money. I recently fell in love with chia seeds. They’re loaded with alpha lineolinic acid (ALA), a heart-healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer, and antioxidants that may ward off certain cancers. Two teaspoons daily are recommended and can easily be added to your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt, blended into a smoothie or used as a crunchy salad topping.

Why look for the next new superfood when there are so many great foods out there already? The basic principles of eating healthy lead me to my food choices, not a new marketing campaign. While there are so many of these “forgotten superfoods” these are some that deserve the attention.

Eggs: One of the most versatile foods, eggs taste great in many different healthy preparations. Eggs can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are never boring. And to make things even better, they have a high nutritional value, especially in choline and leutin. They’re a good source of protein, only around 75 calories each, and are not high in fat. The belief that an egg is not advisable for individuals with high cholesterol has long been disproven.

Potatoes: Whenever I tell my patients that I love potatoes they’re shocked. Aren’t they packed with calories? Shouldn’t they be on the “don’t eat” list? Exactly the opposite. With so many health benefits, including being high in potassium, Vitamin C, B6 and fiber, no one should eliminate them. But it does come down to how you prepare them and your portion size. Personally, I like white potatoes better than sweet, and I like them baked. Look for one the size of a computer mouse vs. a DVD.

Oats: I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost 365 days a year, so you might say I’m a little biased here. I wish I could tell you I’m eating the steel-cut version and cooking it overnight in a crockpot, but I’m buying the quick oats version and simply nuking it in the microwave for 2 minutes each morning. It’s high in soluble fiber, a good source of magnesium, and selenium, and low in saturated fat. But you don’t only have to eat it for breakfast. Lots of my patients enjoy a bowl of oatmeal made with nonfat milk for a morning snack. And I grind it and use as breading for chicken cutlets. As long as you aren’t piling on the sugar or cream oatmeal is a home run.

Avocado: This amazing food is rich in monounsaturated fats, good source of Vitamin K and folate, and high in fiber. I regularly add avocado to sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or to an omelet instead of cheese. I’m a big fan of guacamole, but as I advise my patients, I definitely watch the serving size, along with those baked chips. What most people don’t realize is that one avocado is not a serving, quite the contrary. One-fifth of an avocado is actually one serving, but I do give a little leeway here and tell my patients that one quarter is acceptable.

One thing I love about my so-called superfood picks is that they complement one another. I love to add an egg to my oatmeal or on top of my baked potato with some black beans and low-fat sour cream. As I noted above avocado is perfect in an omelet with lots of veggies, or mashed into guacamole as another baked potato topping.

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