Powerhouse foods are foods that contain high concentrations of the crucial nutrients proven to play a major role in disease prevention.
Foods containing these nutrients have helped prevent afflictions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and even certain cancers.
If you were asked to add five foods to your diet on a regular basis – five foods considered to be nutritional powerhouses – which five foods would you pick?
The following five foods are my choices – they're each loaded with nutrients crucial to a healthier, longer life. Include them into your daily diet and we promise they will change your life for the better!
Tomatoes: The red or pink coloring you find in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, pink guava and pink grapefruit comes chiefly from a carotenoid called lycopene.
This potent antioxidant – together with a group of related compounds collectively called "red family"-- has shown important anti-cancer potential.
Whole grains: When you see the term whole grain, it means that all three parts of the grain kernel – the germ, bran and endosperm – are included in the product. Good whole-grain foods include brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, kamut, whole grain oat cereal (oatmeal), popcorn, kashi (roasted buckwheat) and spelt. These grains have an amazing 96 percent more fiber, magnesium, zinc, chromium, vitamin E, and vitamin B6 than refined grains. Aim for at least 3 servings a day.
Dark green, leafy vegetables: These include spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens, chicory and Swiss chard.
They are excellent sources of fiber, folate and a wide range of carotenoids which seem to help prevent cancer by acting as antioxidant. Try to eat at least 2 servings a day.
Flax: This grain is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a very rich source of alpha-linolenic acid. The nutrients in flax protect against cancer, reduce inflammation, help regulate blood pressure, and lower blood cholesterol levels. Flax can be purchased in several forms including flour, ground seeds or whole seeds. The whole seeds must be ground to release their important fatty acids. Use flax in your recipes, or toss it into salads, smoothies, cereal or yogurt on a daily basis.
Blueberries: Berries are packed full of phytonutrients which are non-vitamin, non-mineral components that have significant health benefits. Blueberries happen to be extra-rich with the good stuff! Research has shown that phytonutrients help the body cells communicate with each other more efficiently to prevent mutations at the cellular level and prevent the proliferation of cancer cells. It seems like researchers are learning new things about the powers of phytonutrients every day. Blueberries are so rich in phytonutrients, they provide as much antioxidant protection to the body as 1,733 IU (International Units) of vitamin E and more than 1200 milligrams of vitamin C.
Be creative when it comes to adding these foods to your diet on a regular basis. Variety is the spice of a healthy life, so enjoy the benefits these five powerhouse foods have to offer!
Rebecca Mohning is a Registered Dietitian and an Exercise Physiologist who believes that we can change our metabolism and achieve optimal health through proper nutrition and regular exercise. She has a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's of Science in Dietetics from Iowa State University. She is a certified Personal Trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine. She specializes in weight management, performance nutrition, and eating disorders.