The Power of Plant Foods - Three Picks to Bring to Your Plate
The Overlooked Superfoods
“Superfood” is the opening word for this blog. Take a minute and think of what comes to mind as the term superfood has become quite the buzzword. Avocados and kale come to my mind, but these are only two of the most touted “superfoods”. I want to talk about a few foods today that may be a little more under the radar when it comes to the term superfood, but they definitely deserve this title!
Artichokes have a surprising load of antioxidants, which are nutrients that can help protect our cells, and in turn, can lower the risk of disease. Per serving, artichokes are one of the most antioxidant rich vegetables. They are also extremely rich in phytonutrients, which are similar to antioxidants, as they provide many health benefits. Artichokes are also a great source of prebiotic fiber, which helps feed the good bacteria in our guts. Whether you prefer fresh, canned, or even marinated, all artichoke forms will offer nutrition benefits. Just be sure to give the canned ones a rinse to remove extra salt.
For more resources for how to prepare artichokes and recipe ideas, visit the following links:
California Artichoke Advisory Board Recipes (hover over the upper left tab “Recipes and Such”)
I find the nutrition label we see on store-bought walnuts to be a bit deceptive for walnuts as it truly does not depict the deeper nourishing
components they offer. Walnuts also rank as one of the top antioxidant providing foods. Research shows walnuts have a positive influence on weight, aging, the reproductive system, cancer prevention, brain health and development, heart health, and diabetes. Walnuts are a rich source of copper, one of walnut’s key nutrients that plays a role in brain development, blood vessels, and immunity.
Here is one you may find a surprise: melatonin. Melatonin is not only good for a good night’s rest, but it also helps remove damaging components, namely “free radicals”, before they damage our cells. Melatonin has been shown to be present in walnuts, and in relatively high amounts. For extensive information on walnuts health benefits, recipes, and more, visit:
Garlic is more often recognized as a superfood than those above, but I mostly want to highlight garlic because it is likely one of the easiest foods to include on a daily basis (if you like it of course). I say this because garlic is incredibly versatile. Garlic also has a long shelf life which makes it easy to always have on hand.
Garlic is wonderful in pasta sauces, pizza toppings, and of course, garlic bread. But there are so many other ways to incorporate this nutritious vegetable, hence it is highly versatile. Try making a herbed potato soup with multiple cloves of minced garlic. Sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic to then combine with lemon juice, rosemary, and freshly grated parmesan to add a fresh twist on top of whole wheat linguine and shrimp.
And for health? Garlic is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects. It also contains many sulfur compounds, some of which are further enhanced and activated when garlic is minced. These compounds may help fight off some types of cancers.
Ultimately, I hope this blog gets you thinking more about the power of plant foods. They all have something unique to offer, which is why we want to make fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains at the forefront of our meals.
By: Laura Johnson, RD, CD, Sensibly Sprouted