1. Keep this formula in mind: Health = Nutrients per Calorie consumed (H=N/C). Choose nutrient-dense foods as apposed to calorie-dense foods.
2. Superfoods are very high in vitamin, mineral, nutrient, and anti-oxidant levels, while also low in calories.
3. Examples of Superfoods include leafy greens, small fatty fish, legumes, berries, root vegetables, sprouts, chia seeds, spirulina, pomegranate seeds, and turmeric.
Key #3: More Nutrients Fewer Calories
I want to give you an easy-to-follow criteria for choosing foods that will give you the most health and performance benefit while helping you avoid the various preservatives, pesticides, genetically-modified ingredients and nutrient-poor crops out there. To get the biggest bang for your calorie buck, you need to optimize your nutrient-to-calorie ratio.
Consider this formula: H=N/C, which means that health = nutrients per calorie consumed. Dr. Joel Fuhrman offers this wisdom in his book Eat to Live, and it is a great way to think about nutrition. Your goal should be to eat nutrient-dense foods while avoiding calorie-dense foods. For example, skip the muffins and bagels and choose protein and vegetables. An apple has about 90 calories and loads of great nutrients while a blueberry muffin has 350+ calories and few nutrients. Water and herbal teas have 0 calories and promote health while sugar laden sodas or flavoured milks are loaded with calories and have minimal nutrient value. The Boston Health Commission recently found that the policy of limiting sugar-laden drinks and increased availability of healthier drinks reduced the intake of unhealthy beverages on city properties by 30%. Of note, beverage prices did not increase during the evaluation period, which is good news because one of the common arguments against healthy foods is that they cost too much. We need to follow this example in our businesses, schools and homes.
To speed you on your way to eating more in line with the H=N/C principle I want you to add Superfoods to your diet wherever possible. Superfoods are a special class of food that offers only the very best nutrient density. I define Superfoods as foods with very high vitamin, mineral, nutrient and anti-oxidant levels that are also low in calories (think vegetables) or if not low in calories then powerfully health enhancing (such as fruit, nuts, avocado, and coconut). We should all include these in our daily routine.
The challenge is to recognize this pattern and to remember that our health depends on eating nutrient-dense foods, not energy-dense foods.
Today's POWER-UP: Here are some nutrient-dense Superfoods for you to consider:
· Leafy greens – Swiss chard, kale, mustard/collard greens, spinach, dandelion, seaweed… These have by far the highest antioxidant density per calorie. Greens are also packed with minerals like calcium, iodine and iron, which are great for bone strength, thyroid health and energy.
· Small fatty fish – Sardines, perch, tilapia, salmon, herring, anchovies… The Omega 3 fatty acids in fish help with circulation, concentration and pain relief. Fish is also a great source of protein and calcium. To avoid heavy metals, avoid large fish like tuna, swordfish and shark.
· Legumes – Lentils, chickpeas, black/kidney/navy/cannellini beans… Legumes are the least expensive protein source and are packed with fibre and B vitamins.
· Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, cherries, goji/acai berries… Don’t let their sweetness fool you – berries are a superfood full of tissue-healing antioxidants and fibre.
· Root Vegetables – Ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, radishes, beets…. These are disease-fighting, energy-boosting, pain-relieving miracle foods! Besides making our meals burst with flavour, they provide us with an excellent nutrition boost.
· Sprouts: Whether talking about lentil, clover or alfalfa sprouts, eating the plant at this early stage of life is a nutritional bonus. Sprouts have more enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids than almost any other food on Earth! The fact that they are also cheap, have very little calories and are easy to incorporate into meals makes them super!
· Chia seeds: Yes, these seeds are the very same as the ones we used to spread on pottery and watch grow as kids. A nutritional analysis was done on these tiny seeds and it turns out they are the highest plant source of omega 3 fatty acids in existence which makes them excellent for brain and heart health.
· Spirulina: This nutritional powerhouse is considered part of the algae family. It is packed with minerals, including one of the only sources of thyroid booster, iodine. 60% of this green powder is protein by weight (containing every single essential amino acid that humans need). Spirulina also contains four times as much vitamin B12 as liver. Add this to your diet ASAP! We use spirulina in our morning smoothies.
· Pomegranate Seeds: Never before have we seen a fruit that has as much cardio-protective benefit as pomegranate. Research has found that it can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation in our blood vessels, actually reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
· Turmeric: This mild tasting orange spice is often part of Indian curries, but it can be added to nearly every meal subtly. The benefits of the active ingredient, curcumin, seem endless. Curcumin actually slows down age-related cognitive decline and prevents Alzheimer’s Disease. It acts as a potent pain reliever, soothes reflux disease and stops clot formation in our blood vessels. This is certainly a super spice!
Remember it’s all about eating as healthy as you can. Just use common sense and don’t worry about being exact.