Next time when you go grocery shopping, take a look around and try to pick up some of the foods that most of the time are left unnoticed.
Your shopping cart should start looking differently, with more fresh colorful fruits and vegetables and less processed, boxed food.
Major player in European and Asian cuisine is almost absent from the North American typical meal.
Health benefits: Cabbage is loaded with valuable nutrients. At the top of the list is sulforaphane, a chemical that increases your body’s production of enzymes that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer. In fact, Stanford University scientists determined that sulforaphane boosts your levels of these cancer-fighting enzymes higher than any other plant chemical.On top of being healthy, the calories intake is very low. One cup of chopped cabbage has only 22 calories.
How to eat it: There are many ways to add cabbage into your diet. Top your sandwiches and burgers with chopped cabbage, have it as a side dish or as a salad. You can eat it raw or cooked, is equally delicious.
Beets are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable and have a rich crimson color.
Health benefits: This crimson power food is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments – called betacyanins—that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.
How to eat them: Fresh and raw, not from a jar. Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Add grated horseradish for a spicy version of the salad.
You can also eat the leaves and stems, which are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Simply cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash thoroughly. They’re now ready to be used in a salad. Or, for a side dish, sauté the leaves, along with a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.
This salty, bitter vegetable is native to the Mediterranean.
Health benefits: A half-cup of cooked Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, supplying 10 mg each. These plant chemicals, known as carotenoids, protect your retinas from the damage of aging, according to Harvard researchers. That’s because both nutrients, which are actually pigments, appear to accumulate in your retinas, where they absorb the type of shortwave light rays that can damage your eyes. So the more lutein and zeaxanthin you eat, the better your internal eye protection will be.
How to eat it: Chard goes great with grilled steaks and chicken, and it also works well as a bed for pan-seared fish. Wash and dry a bunch of Swiss chard, and then chop the leaves and stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok, and add two peeled and lightly crushed garlic cloves. Sauté for 1-2 minutes then add the chard. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are tender. Season the chard with salt and pepper.
These raisin-size fruits are chewy and taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. More important, these potent berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years.
Health benefits: Goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings—a method of gauging antioxidant power—of any fruit, according to Tufts University researchers. And although modern scientists began to study this ancient berry only recently, they’ve found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance—a risk factor of diabetes – in rats.
How to eat them: Mix dried or fresh goji berries with a cup of plain yoghurt, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or cold cereal, or enjoy a handful by themselves. You can find them at specialty supermarkets or at gojiberries.us.