Simple foods with extra nutrition and health power

Black tea

When it’s tea time, most health-conscious consumers tend to go for green. But black tea can be as good for you because it comes from the same antioxidant-rich plant that produces the green variety. Black tea may offer similar protection from heart disease and some cancers.

How to drink it: To get the most benefits use the regular, not decaffeinated version. As well, avoid bottled or instant teas because the level of antioxidants is barely detectable. If you are brewing it use boiling water and steep for three minutes to get the most antioxidants.

Celery

It’s a great source of potassium, a nutrient that helps reduce blood pressure and regulate the balance of fluids and minerals in the body. The suggested amount is 4,700 milligrams a day. Although banana is the most popular choice to get potasium into your body, munching four medium stalks will deliver about the same amount of potassium as a 105-calorie banana for a mere 24 calories. The crunchy crudité also contains compounds called phthalides, which moderate blood pressure, too.


How to eat it: Dip celery in hummus for an extra dose of fiber. Add it to soups, stews and stir-fries.
Tip: Keep a stash of precut celery sticks immersed in a tub of ice water in the fridge; the cool bath keeps them at their crunchiest.

Cherries

Cherries, both sweet and tart, are particularly rich in anthocyanins, micronutrients that may jump-start the immune system and mop up free radicals that cause disease, says Ronald Wrolstad, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus of food science and technology at Oregon State University at Corvallis. “This may give cherries the potential to help ward off cancer,” he says. Other research suggests they may also reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and gout.


How to eat them:  Fresh –available only for a limited time,frozen, dried and canned versions, which are available year-round, are equally nutritious. Freeze the fresh ones for a cool bite, add tart dried cherries to salads or top pancakes with the canned kind.

Edamame

If you want all the benefits of soy-protein minus the cholesterol, plus the heart- and bone-protecting isoflavones—but you’re tired of tofu, grab a handful of edamame.Edamame is the whole unprocessed soybean. Most often sold frozen in or outside the pod, these crunchy green beans have all the pluses of tofu, as well as almost twice the potassium and folate and nearly four times the fiber.


How to eat it: Boil in the pod, sprinkle with sea salt and eat warm or cold by squeezing from the skins. Or toss raw, preshelled beans into any green or fruit salad. You can also roast them by spritzing raw shelled beans with olive oil, seasoning with dried basil, garlic powder, parsley or salt and cooking in an oven at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Roasted beans are a good crunchy snack but they’re higher in calories than fresh beans.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have several redeeming qualities. Nutrition wise they’re low in calories and are a top plant source of B-complex vitamins, including riboflavin, which helps keep skin healthy and eyesight sharp. They also have high level of  selenium, an antioxidant that may protect against some cancers. All mushrooms offer benefits, but the big winner is the meaty portobello. It’s high in selenium and potassium.

How to eat them Grill them or mix them raw into salads or sauté and add to pizza.

Onions

What nutrition and health benefits do we get from onions?         they have blood-thinning property similar to that of aspirin         they are a source of quercetin, a flavonoid thought to reduce heart attack risks         they fight bacteria that can cause stomach cancer         they may bolster bone health

How to eat them: Raw onions (all varieties) are best because cooking can kill off their blood-thinning compounds; try slices on sandwiches or in salads. If you can’t take the strong taste, marinate them in balsamic vinegar with some water, sugar and fresh herbs. You can also sauté chopped onions with olive oil or roast whole in a covered dish in a 400-degree oven for an hour.

Pomegranate juice

Antioxidant-loaded pomegranates have been generating quite a buzz. The conveniently presqueezed pomegranate juice, which offers almost all the health perks of the whole fruit without the hassle, is available almost everywhere. The beverage has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, cranberry juice or orange juice, and is loaded with polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that may protect against cancer and promote heart health

How to drink it To balance the flavor and cut calories, mix with an equal amount of seltzer or freshly brewed tea.

Quinoa

Quinoa delivers significant amounts of 20 different amino acids that your body uses to maintain and repair tissues, including all of the essential amino acids—protein building blocks your body can’t make and has to get from food, making it one of the best nutrition choices. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure. A half cup gives you more than 50 percent of your daily needs, as well as some iron and potassium.


How to eat it: Boiled quinoa, sligthly undercooked, makes a nice side dish alternative to brown rice. Or eat quinoa like oatmeal, mixed with skim milk and a spoonful of light maple syrup.

Sunflower seeds

With 25 percent more vitamin E than almonds, sunflower seeds are the latest go-to snack for reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Vitamin E may also fight inflammation, which can lead to joint pain and cartilage deterioration. 4 tablespoons of dried seeds provide 12 milligrams of vitamin E—that’s 80 percent of your daily needs. They’re also full of fiber, healthy fats, protein and iron.


How to eat them Shelled seeds are great tossed into salads, baked goods like muffins or spice cake, meat loaf or any recipe that calls for nuts. You can also crush them, add some olive oil and use them as a coating for baked chicken or fish fillets.

Whole-grain cereal

The nutrion and health benefits of eating them are known by almost everybody. Aside from making a nice, hearthy, low calorie breakfast, they will give you the morning boost to your metabolism. They claim health benefits as well:  Shredded wheat and Cheerios say their whole grains can help lower cholesterol, which can reduce your heart disease risk.

How to eat it Check the labels for calories intake and for types with at least 4 grams of fiber and no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. Add a cup of skim milk for your protein needs.

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