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Two of my goals for 2014 are to get fit and eat healthy. Arguably, these two things are probably on every other to-do list for every new year, but for a good reason. Why? Proper nutrition (in addition to exercise) is essential to feeling good - and looking good. The web is full of articles on super foods and there is a new hype every other month. However, food doesn't need to be very exotic to have a great impact. Many great foods are rather ordinary and easy to find, but often overlooked.
Here is a list of foods that are probably not in your diet but should be:
Mushrooms are a great source of vitamins D and B. This superfood is particularly a good alternative for people who have a deficiency of vitamin D due to lack of sufficient exposure to the sun.
These are packed with folate and betaine. The betacyannins, which give beets their characteristic red pigments have been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties. Folate and betaine help to lower the levels of compounds in blood that cause inflammation in blood vessels.
These belong to a group of fishes that are rich in omega 3 oils. The ultimate superfood, omega 3 fatty acids are famed for providing numerous nutritional benefits and for their protective qualities. An omega 3-rich diet can lower the risk of heart disease, anxiety and depression and many other conditions.
Although most nuts have high concentration of fats, pistachios are low in fat and calories. Besides, the fats in these nuts are the healthy unsaturated type. Pistachios contain more than 30 different types of vitamins in addition to antioxidants and micro-nutrients that include lutein and zeaxanthin.
Perhaps the most widely known benefit of cinnamon is its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon is also good for thinning the blood and lowering the risk of blood clots. It also helps to build the body’s defense against bacterial infections and inflammation.
A bowl of oats gives you enough energy and fiber to last through the better part of your day. Oats contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that is proven to help lower blood cholesterol levels. It reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 15 percent.
Not only are avocados nutritious, but they also add a creamy, rich flavor to food. Like nuts, avocado also contains natural fats that are healthy. The nutritional value of avocado comes from the numerous vitamins and minerals it contains.
A rich source of fiber, flaxseeds add plenty of flavor and nutrition to food. The seeds also make a healthy snack when eaten on their own. Flaxseeds derive their anti-cancer properties from lingans. These compounds help to regulate hormone activity, protecting the body from various cancers.
This is a good source of vitamins C and E. These vitamins help to build the body’s immunity hence offering protection against illness and infections. Kiwis can be eaten on their own or added to smoothies.
The juice from pomegranates is full of nutrition and medicinal properties. Scientists say that consuming two ounces of pomegranate juice per day for a year reduces systolic blood pressure by about 21 percent and improves the flow of blood significantly. Pomegranates are also packed with vitamin C.
There is a big hype about coconut and from what I hear, it's certainly overpriced in most Western countries. However, here in Vietnam, you can get a fresh coconut for less than $1 on every street corner. They chop it open for you with a machete and you can drink the tasty coconut water and spoon out the flesh. Coconut water is packed with nutrients and a great drink to have after a workout or just on a hot day to keep you hydrated. Much recommended over a sugary energy drink.