Superfoods for Summer Plates Add these 5 healthy items to your shopping cart this summer and begin to reap the benefits. DR. CARMELLA SEBASTIAN
Feel good this summer by adding these healthy foods to your shopping list.
“ Look for chocolate with 60 percent or higher cocoa content—the darker, the better.”
While there are many healthy foods out there, some of them are, well, super because they’re loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help prolong life. These "ingredients" even fight and prevent chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes—all-important to consider even as you focus on your waistline.
Here are the top five superfoods I recommend adding to your grocery list this summer—these items are available the rest of the year as well:
Blueberries: Heck, you might even want to grow your own! Just plant them in the spring and harvest in late July or August. Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, blueberries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them a top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory. The darker the berry, the more antioxidants it has. Frozen blueberries are just as good as fresh, so add them to yogurt parfaits, cereal, smoothies, and salads. I recommend a 1/2 cup serving daily.
Quinoa: Say it with me: keen-wah. Quinoa is full of fiber, and as you might already know, a diet high in fiber will help you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As a bonus, because fiber helps you feel full longer, it’s also a great tool in weight management. Since quinoa has more protein than brown rice, start using it as a healthful substitute.
Yogurt: Okay, okay, you know the drill: Calcium helps build strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. So put that knowledge to use and start filling your grocery cart with yogurt. Here’s an added bonus: Some studies show that calcium helps with weight loss! If you’re age 19 to 50, the USDA recommends 1,000 mg of calcium per day. If you’re 51 or older, that level increases to 1,200 mg daily. Top with fresh-picked berries and enjoy a refreshing summer treat!
Dark Chocolate: That’s right. I am encouraging you to eat dark chocolate! New research has shown that it is packed with antioxidants and can lower blood pressure. Look for chocolate with 60 percent or higher cocoa content—the darker, the better. In addition, the darker the chocolate is, the lower the fat and sugar content. Now that’s our kind of health food!
Tea: Black tea and green tea have the same overall antioxidant power, but green tea also includes ECGC, an especially powerful antioxidant. A recent Japanese study showed that men who regularly drink green tea had lower cholesterol than men who didn’t. Researchers in Spain and the United Kingdom have also shown that ECGC can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. For a double health whammy, replace sugary sodas with tea.
Dr. Carmella Sebastian (known as Dr. Carm or "The Wellness Whisperer") was born and raised in Pittston, Pennsylvania, and received her MD degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She is board certified in internal medicine and was in active clinical practice before joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Northeastern Pennsylvania, where she was VP of medical affairs and chief medical officer. At Florida Blue, she oversees the National Committee for Quality Assurance-accredited wellness program "Better You from Blue" and manages over 100 client consultations per year.
She recently published her first book, "Sex and Spaghetti Sauce: My Italian Mother’s Recipe for Getting Healthy and Getting Busy in Your 50s and Beyond." Dr. Carm lives in Tampa with her husband and two daughters, who are ongoing (and somewhat reluctant) beneficiaries of her wellness wisdom. For more information, please visit www.drcarm.com. and follow her on Google+.