If food popularity contests were held, certain foods would take center stage. These star power foods have included coconut oil, quinoa, acai bowls, smoothies, and even bananas, just to name a few. You can certainly eat these foods if you like, but there is no naturally glowing halo over any of them. They have no special nutritional value making them more worthy than other foods. They just happened to be at the right place at the right time to get noticed and take that center stage. For many of these foods, their moment of fame has already come and gone.
What about other note-worthy healthy foods often overlooked? They generally provide necessary nutrients contributing to your overall health and well-being but may lack that “star power” as more popular foods.
Let’s take a look at 7 such foods that rarely make a top ten list of foods to be eating now. While uncelebrated these foods offer significant health contributions deserving a place on your plate:
- Collard greens
This cruciferous vegetable is from the same family as broccoli and cabbage. A staple in Southern cooking, its slightly bitter taste goes along well with kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. Those dark green leaves contain excellent sources of vitamin C and K along with fiber. A substance called sulforaphane is found in collard greens which may prevent some forms of cancer. Another substance collards contain is lutein, a necessary compound important for brain and eye health. To help prevent the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with cooking collard greens, cut them into small pieces so they will cook more quickly.
Look no further than your egg carton for this delicious food that can be served in so many ways and not just for breakfast. It’s hard to find a food packing as much high-quality protein (7 grams in one large egg), antioxidants, essential nutrients for eye health, muscle strength, brain function, is affordable. Eggs also provide only 70 calories and 5 grams of fat. Be sure to include the yolk, a top source of choline, a necessary nutrient for healthy cell membranes and brain function. Yolks are also a good source of vitamin B-12, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants linked to a reduction in age-related macular degeneration. Unless you are allergic to eggs, most people can eat eggs and reap the nutritional benefits they provide.
There is a reason why this melon is called “water” melon – it contains 93 percent H2O. And if you’re not getting insufficient water throughout the day, this can lead to mild energy-draining dehydration. A cup and a half of watermelon are as hydrating as an eight-ounce glass of water and it naturally packed with vitamins A, B6, and C, all of which have their own energizing properties. Toss cubed watermelon with feta cheese, olive oil, lime juice, and chopped fresh mint leaves for a refreshing and invigorating energy boost.
To put a spring in your step, take along some convenient, quick carbs found in raisins. Studies have found raisins are just as effective at keeping runners’ stamina up as were carbohydrate-based snacks designed for endurance. The ideal amount for a quick pick-me-up is about two mini boxes of this popular dried fruit. To jump-start your morning add raisins paired with nuts to cereal or yogurt. The nuts will contain protein, healthy fat, and fiber keeping your motor running for hours while the carbs in raisins give you a boost of energy for the short term.
Out of all tree nuts, pecans are the highest in antioxidants. Antioxidants are healthy plant nutrients that help fight disease. They protect our bodies from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals which many researchers believe is the factor in the development of atherosclerosis, cancer, and other health conditions. Pecans with their healthy oils contribute to heart health, promote healthy skin and also contribute to satiety leading to a feeling of fullness helping with weight management. Use them in addition to other nuts like almonds and walnuts, by adding them into salads, Greek yogurt, or oatmeal, or blend them into protein shakes for a dose of appetite-squelching fat.
This cruciferous vegetable has about five times the antioxidant power as green cabbage. That deep purplish-red color means it’s a great source of anthocyanins, the same type of antioxidant found in blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. Anthocyanins have an anti-inflammatory effect and may be helpful in lowering blood pressure and improving vision. A cup of uncooked red cabbage provides 85 percent of the daily value of vitamin C and almost half a day’s worth of vitamin K. Try it in salads or in a lightened coleslaw or try braising it with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Being a member of the cruciferous vegetable family makes Brussels sprouts a very special veggie. Brussels sprouts join other cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and bok choy in this prestigious group. One special component in these veggies is sulforaphane which can stimulate enzymes in the body to detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells. They also appear to help protect against cancer by reducing oxidative stress which can increase free radicals thus increasing risk of cancer of the colon, lung, prostate, breast, and others. Incorporate this veggie into your meals by chopping cooked Brussels sprouts adding them to a green salad, pasta sauce, or soup, or drizzle steamed Brussels sprouts with olive oil and fresh garlic for a nutrient-dense side dish.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.