This post is not mine, but was originally published on The Well Blog on June 30, 2008, and appeared on The New York Timesâ€™s list of most-viewed stories for 2008.
Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but arenâ€™t. But some of his favorites, like purslane, guava and goji berries, arenâ€™t always available at regular grocery stores. I asked Dr. Bowden, author of â€œThe 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,â€ to update his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but donâ€™t always find their way into our shopping carts. Hereâ€™s his advice.
1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.â€¨
How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.
2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.â€¨
How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.
4. Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.â€¨
How to eat: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.
5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.â€¨
How to eat: Just drink it.
6. Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.â€¨
How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.
7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.â€¨
How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.
8. Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them â€œhealth food in a can.â€ They are high in omega-3â€™s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.â€¨
How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.
9. Turmeric: The â€œsuperstar of spices,â€ it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.â€¨
How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.
10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and donâ€™t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
You can find more details and recipes on the Menâ€™s Health Web site, which published the original version of the list last year.
In my own house, I only have two of these items â€” pumpkin seeds, which I often roast and put on salads, and frozen blueberries, which I mix with milk, yogurt and other fruits for morning smoothies. How about you? Have any of these foods found their way into your shopping cart?
Valerie here: We do a lot better than that at our house! Most years we grow beets, swiss chard, and pumpkins. I’ve sometimes roasted the pumpkin seeds, and I buy them when I don’t have our own. (I love pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and nuts on a tossed salad!) We have plum trees and so dry our own prunes. And we often pick huckleberries in the summer, a close relative of blueberries. Of the others, cabbage and cinnamon also often find their way into our food, thought not usually together!
How about you? Are you eating these superfoods?