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Exploring Womanhood > Mind, Body & Soul > Health & Well-Being Channel > Healthy Eating

Super Foods for Super Health
By Linda Miner RNC, CHN, CMTA - www.MyHealthyBalance.com

If you are looking for that "magic bullet" to make you healthier, I would strongly recommend adding at least one of the following four Super Foods to your diet on a consistent basis. These foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber and protein.

All of the following foods are a good source of the phytonutrient antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that are concentrated in the lens of the eye. Vitamin K, which is important for proper blood clotting and may be helpful in fighting Alzheimer's, is present in all these foods. They are all also an excellent source of Potassium which is a very important nutrient for people with high blood pressure.

SWISS CHARD is one of the most popular vegetables in the Mediterranean region and it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Research suggests that the high levels of chlorophyll act as a health protective. Since Swiss chard is available throughout the year, it is a great food to have as a regular part of your diet.

1 cup of cooked Swiss Chard contains (1):
  • 5493 IU of Vitamin A  • 58 mg of Phosphorus
  • 31 mg of Vitamin C  • 960 mg of Potassium
  • 573 mcg of Vitamin K  • 6391 mcg of Beta-Carotene
  • 10 mcg of Biotin  • 19,276 mcg Lutein & Zeaxanthin
  • 3.7 g of Fiber  • 101 mg of Calcium
  • 3.3 g of Protein  • 15 mcg of Folate
  • 4 mg of Iron  • 150 mg of Magnesium

Chard is one of the few vegetables (along with spinach and beet greens) that are recommended to be boiled because of the high acid content. Boiling frees up the unwanted acids and allows them to leach into the water. Boil for just 3 minutes and then drain the chard with a strainer. Be sure to throw out the water after boiling.

COLLARD GREENS' phytonutrients (phyto = plant) help prevent a wide variety of cancers and research is pointing to the ability of components known as "glucosinolates" and "methyl cysteine sulfoxides" to activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances.

1 cup of cooked Collard Greens contains (1):
  • 5945 IU of Vitamin A  • 494 mg of Potassium
  • 35 mg of Vitamin C  • 9,146 mcg of Beta-Carotene
  • 704 mcg of Vitamin K  • 14,618 mcg Lutein & Zeaxanthin
  • 226 mg of Calcium  • 177 mcg of Folate
  • 32 mg of Magnesium  • 5.3 g of Fiber
  • 49 mg of Phosphorus  • 4 g of Protein

It is best to steam collards. Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and place in a steamer. Cook for no more than 5 minutes for best results.

ASPARAGUS is renowned for being an excellent source of folic acid which is essential for proper cellular division and DNA synthesis as well as being an important nutrient for a healthy cardiovascular system. Asparagus provides health-promoting carotenoid phytonutrients which can function as powerful antioxidants that protect cells against oxidative damage.

1 cup of cooked Asparagus contains (1):
  • 970 mg of Vitamin A  • 3 mcg of Selenium
  • 19 mg of Vitamin C  • 1,087 mcg of Beta-Carotene
  • 92 mcg of Vitamin K  • 1,388 mcg Lutein & Zeaxanthin
  • 36 mg of Calcium  • 263 mcg of Folate
  • 2.9 g of Fiber  • 18 mg of Magnesium
  • 4.7 g of Protein  • 97 mg of Phosphorus
  • 288 mg of Potassium  

Choose medium size asparagus and snap off the bottom of each asparagus stalk. Saute 1 pound of asparagus for just 5 minutes in 3 tbsps of low sodium broth. It absorbs just enough moisture from the broth to make it tender.

BROCCOLI Studies indicate that cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, that contain the largest concentrations of health promoting sulfur compounds which increase the liver's ability to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially toxic substances. Vitamin A and C are also present in broccoli which is also a rich source of folate which is important for heart health.

1 cup of cooked Broccoli contains (1):
  • 2280 IU of Vitamin A  • 505 mg of Potassium
  • 123 mg of Vitamin C  • 1,840 mcg of Beta-Carotene
  • 155 mcg of Vitamin K  • 2,366 mcg Lutein & Zeaxanthin
  • 75 mg of Calcium  • 94 mcg of Folate
  • 39 mg of Magnesium  • 4.7 g of Fiber
  • 102 mg of Phosphorus  • 4.7 g of Protein

Steaming Broccoli is the best way to cook it to preserve nutrients. Cook until a fork can just pierce the stem - about 5 minutes.

Incorporating any or all of these Super Foods into your diet on a regular basis will help you achieve your health and wellness goals.

(1) Mateljan, George. The World's Healthiest Foods, GMF Publishing, Canada, 2007

About the Author:
Linda MinerLinda Miner is a Registered Nutritionist specializing in Metabolic Typing. Linda works with clients to help them restore their health by re-establishing balance in the body. Through one-on-one coaching and an individualized food plan based on your unique characteristics, Linda can help you achieve Optimal Health. If you are looking for a plan that is as unique as you are, then choose Linda Miner to be your Wellness Guide. Learn more at http://www.ichange.com/user/lindaminer.

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