The holiday season, for many of us, is a time of cookies, cakes, and other baked goods, both homemade and packaged.
All variety of rich foods, meat, cheeses, and eggnog are offered and consumed, often in excess, at Christmastime.
What if, instead, we could find some balance in our December diet by choosing to eat foods as close to their natural form as possible?
The more we change the food from its original form, the less “super” it is. The term “superfood” is a marketing buzzword that has become part of the vernacular.
Most natural foods are packed with vitamins and provide our bodies with high quality nutrition. Food, like air and water, contains life force. When we eat high quality foods, we are filling our bodies with more vitality and energy. Eating foods that are canned, boxed, prepared in a factory, or pumped with preservatives and other chemicals is not going to give us a whole lot of life force.
Many superfoods are exotic, expensive, and not practical to include in our everyday diet, such as acai berries, Moringa, chia, and bee pollen. While all of these are definitely worthy of your attention and consideration, this article focuses on foods that are accessible in any grocery store in the United States.
1. Sweet potatoes
The delicious sweet potato is a healthier cousin of the regular potato, chock-full of potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Baked or boiled, pureed or fried, sweet potatoes are a yummy treat that can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
2. Dark, leafy greens
Dark green, leafy vegetables provide tons of nutrients, such as zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and fiber. Research has proven their potential to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
By including any or all of the following leafy greens in your meals, you can consume anti-inflammatory compounds called carotenoids, which may protect against certain types of cancer: kale, Swiss chard, collard, turnip greens, spinach, arugula. Mix them in with soup, salad, curry, stir-fry, and green juice.
This brilliant magenta veggie boosts energy levels and lowers blood pressure. Studies are showing that they can help fight cancer, reduce arthritis pain, and assist with weight loss. Beets offer a plethora of nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron. Sauté, steam, or grate them to add color to a salad, soup, stir-fry, or smoothie.
Turmeric is a potent spice originating from India. It is used for cooking and has a slew of medicinal benefits. It has a slightly bitter taste, so I add small amounts of turmeric to almost every meal I make to “microdose” myself and my family with this beneficial food. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Like garlic, it is also helpful for wound healing and pain reduction.
5. Peanut butter
Peanuts are often categorized as nuts, but they are actually legumes, a type of plant food that includes beans, lentils, and peas. Legumes are rich in vitamin B, minerals, protein, and fiber. Peanut butter is a delicious version of this high quality plant food and can be eaten as a snack with bananas, apples, bread, or mixed into a fruit smoothie. Add peanut butter with a small amount of water to pasta or rice dishes to give your meal a protein boost and a nutty texture and taste.
Avocado is creamy, versatile, and rich in many nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and “good,” monounsaturated fats—predominantly oleic acid, which is linked to reduced inflammation in the body. Eating avocado regularly may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Ginger is a root that serves as a flavor enhancer and boasts multiple medicinal uses. Ginger can help with nausea and pain from inflammation. It can be utilized fresh, as an oil or juice, or in dried, powdered form. Dice, crush, or blend the ginger into your soup, sauce, smoothie, or herbal tea.
Garlic is amazing. This relative of onions, leeks, and shallots has been used for centuries as a natural medicine. It is a great provider of vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, and more. With its strong flavor and medicinal qualities, garlic is both a popular ingredient in savory dishes and a home remedy for many conditions, from upset stomach to a sting or cut on the skin.
Maintaining good health through nutrition is best achieved by eating a variety of local, unprocessed foods every day, rather than honing in on the latest food fads.
Regularly eating the above foods will benefit your health and may prevent disease. May this list be of benefit!