Chef Eric Stein, MS RD CCE

Wellness Chef | Registered Dietitian
Certified Culinary Educator

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I am sure you are familiar with superfoods, right? We hear about them all the time, they are all over the news. Have you ever wondered why some foods get the prominent title while others are left in the dark?

Nutrient rich foods are ones that are particularly high in vitamins, minerals or phytochemicals. So what makes these foods so super? Well, these are my favorite superfoods. They are ones that I try to eat on a regular basis because they are deliciously rich in nutrients.

1. Oats are packed with heart healthy fiber which aids in digestion and weight maintenance. In addition, they are a great source of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Fatty acids are healthy fats that can be used as energy in our cells and they may help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol). Tired of having oatmeal for breakfast and need ideas for this versatile super food? Try using oats in savory preparations too. Next time you bake chicken breasts, use finely ground oats as the breading. You'll get tons of lean protein and fiber in one bite, just make sure you season your "breadcrumbs".

2. Avocados are truly one of my favorite foods. I have been known to eat them with a spoon directly from their skin. Avocadoes are rich in potassium, protein, vitamins C and E, as well as the healthiest types of unsaturated fats. Avocadoes unfortunately have gotten a bad rep due to their high fat content, but as long as you eat them in moderation, they are a nutritional powerhouse. Did you know that every cell in the body is covered with a layer of fat? That means that we need plenty of the good kind to keep our bodies running. Avocado make a great sandwich spread, so next time you reach for the mayo, switch it up and add some heart healthy avocado instead!

3. Deep green leafy vegetables are a great source of vitamins A, C, K, folate, iron, and calcium. Studies have found that these vitamins and minerals are associated with prevention of certain cancers and they promote heart health. When eating dark greens make sure to have a little bit of healthy fat such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado so that your body can absorb all those healthy nutrients. If dark greens are not part of your daily diet, don't be afraid to experiment. Try experimenting with one new vegetable each week; you can sauté, steam, bake, wrap or just eat them raw. While we commonly think that deep leafy greens need to be cooked for a long time, I enjoy them most simply marinated with some lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil.

4. Kiwis are one of the few foods found in nature that are packed with vitamin E, an essential nutrient that has been associated with preventing heart disease and promotes healthy skin. Kiwi fruits also contain about as much potassium as bananas, and then a day and a half's worth of Vitamin C. Kiwi tastes great when eaten alone as a sweet snack or can be added to your favorite salad for a burst of flavor. While it may seem like an uncommon practice, eating the skins of kiwis will add a healthy dose of fiber to your diet, just rinse them in warm water first to soften them.

5. Blueberries, lead the pack as one of the best sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants. The past few years has brought so much attention to the health benefits of this delicious fruit. The phytochemicals in blueberries may lower your risk of stroke, cancer, and heart disease. Blueberries are packed with flavor and nutrients but have very few calories. They are the poster child for nutrient rich foods. One cup of fresh berries has only 84 calories, a quarter of the calories found in most commercial baked products. In addition to eating them fresh, there are so many ways to include blueberries in the diet. Try dried blueberries, blueberry juice, frozen blueberries, and even dehydrated blueberries.

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