Although technically not a scientific term, we often associate the word “superfood” with something that contains multiple nutrients, which positively impact our health. Dietitians would describe those foods as nutrient dense and often encourage individuals to focus on consuming greater amounts to ensure adequate intake, disease prevention and overall wellness (DHHS, 2010).
The following four dynamic duos offer flavorful ways to pair up these foods to maximize their potential health benefits.
Black Beans: Fiber, Protein, Magnesium
Beet Greens: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate
Black beans are nutrient powerhouses filled with fiber to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and protein to keep you full. They are also rich sources of magnesium, which helps keep your bones strong, maintains healthy muscle and nerve function, and supports your immune system.
Beet greens—the leafy portion of a beet—are often overlooked as a full-fledged vegetable. But beet greens have a similar nutrient profile to other green leafy veggies, containing vitamin A, C and folate, a nutrient of particular concern to childbearing-aged women because of its association with reducing the risk of neural tube defects (Blencowe, 2010).
Bring these superfoods together with a healthy beet green and black bean enchilada recipe that’s sure to please even the pickiest eater.
Cherries: Vitamin C, Fiber, Anthocyanin
Chia Seeds: Calcium, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Protein
Cherries are high in vitamin C and fiber. They also contain an antioxidant known as anthocyanin—the same phytonutrient found in red wine that inhibits enzymes associated with inflammation.
Chia, also known as salvia hispanica, is a desert plant related to the mint family. Chia seeds are a rich source of calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. And, although they’re best known for producing the “green hair” on our favorite clay figurine, chia seeds are edible and have a nutty flavor similar to poppy seeds.
Form a dynamic duo with these two superfoods by blending up a refreshing smoothie.
Cherry Chia Smoothie
1 cup non-fat milk
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen sweet cherries
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp chia seeds
3-4 ice cubes
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Kale: Vitamin A, Calcium, Potassium
Kumquats: Vitamin C, Fiber, Folate
Kale is a firm, dark green leafy vegetable that continues to grow in popularity. Its impressive array of nutrients makes it a stellar superfood—it is a particularly good source of calcium, which is a boon for those who seek an alternative to traditional dairy foods.
Native to south Asia, kumquats are a petite citrus fruit with an unusually sweet peel relative to its tart inside. Rich in fiber, folate and vitamin C, this tiny fruit is an antioxidant giant.
These superfoods can unite in a low-calorie and refreshing hearty greens and kumquat salad that’s perfect for a quick side dish. You can also add a bit of lean protein such a grilled chicken breast to make it a complete meal.
Tomatoes: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Lycopene
Tempeh: Protein, Magnesium, Riboflavin
Tomatoes are highly prized as a food rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and lycopene, which help reduce inflammation and are thought to have protective properties against certain diseases.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that has a firm texture, which makes it a perfect meat substitute in a number of dishes. It’s high in protein, magnesium and riboflavin, which is particularly vital for energy production and general metabolism.
Add a few slices of tomato to this terrific smothered tempeh sandwich for your next meatless Monday feast.
Get creative with your meals by exploring more delicious healthy recipes.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (2010). 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Blencowe, H. et al. (2010). Folic acid to reduce neonatal mortality from neural tube disorders, International Journal of Epidemiology, 39, 110-121.
By Gina Crome
Gina M. Crome, M.S., M.P.H., R.D.Gina Crome is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise. She holds a dual Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology as well as a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from Loma Linda University whereby she received the Selma Andrews Award for Excellence and Professionalism.
Over the past 20 years, Gina’s mission has focused on guiding individuals towards gaining a better quality of life. She has previously struggled with her own weight issues and has since lost a total of 172 pounds, driving her passion home to promote healthier lifestyles. Gina is available for media interviews and community appearances and she is the author of various online nutrition and fitness columns.