Eating a balanced diet in today’s food landscape means that when you’re surrounded by bad, you’ve got to maximize the good if you want to boost your health and lose weight. While, yes, we know it’s easy to stock your pantry with comfort foods during a stressful time like the coronavirus pandemic, but we have to give it to your straight: it’s just as easy to stock up on the good.
Now we’re not telling you that you need to place an order for superfood powders to reap their health-boosting benefits. All you have to do is run down to your local grocery store (preferably alone, and as long as you’re not exhibiting any of the 7 Signs You Shouldn’t Be Going to the Grocery Store).
That’s right, some of the best superfoods for your health are common foods you likely already have in your fridge and pantry. Supercharge your health, boost your immune system, and jumpstart your metabolism with these 15 stellar superfoods worth eating while you’re in quarantine. After you buy these, find out how to use them with these 25 Cooking Tricks to Perfect When You’re Quarantined at Home.
It may be green and leafy, but spinach is no nutritional wallflower. This noted muscle builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect you against age-related sexual issues. And spinach is packed with lutein, a compound that fights macular degeneration. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or 1/2 cup cooked per day.
Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body. That helps boost your immune system and provides protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup of the calcium and protein-rich goop a day.
There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 milligrams of lycopene a day, which is about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice.
Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids—fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis—but none are as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots. Aim for 1/2 cup a day.
Host to more antioxidants than any other fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, also boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or 1/2 cup frozen or dried.
6. Black Beans
All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans. That’s because they’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily 1/2-cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber. It’s also low in calories and free of saturated fat.
Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut sounds like a Frankenfood, but it grows on trees. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts—about 1 ounce, or 7 nuts—is good anytime, but especially as a postworkout recovery snack.
The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Yes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by the fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving, they deliver steady, muscle-friendly energy.
9. Coconut Oil
One study of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who ate coconut oil lost overall weight and belly fat faster than a group consuming the same amount of olive oil. The secret is in coconut’s medium-chain triglycerides. Unlike the long-chain fatty acids in most oils, coconut oil is broken down immediately for use rather than stored, and has been found to speed up the metabolism. That’s right—your body has trouble storing the calories in coconut oil, and revs up its metabolism to burn them instead. Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for just about every dish from eggs to stir-frys, and a delicious substitute for butter when baking.
10. Flax and Chia Seeds
One of the hallmarks of a balanced diet is to have a good ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s. A 4:1 ratio would be ideal, but the modern American diet is more like 20:1. That leads to inflammation, which can trigger weight gain. But while eating a serving of salmon every day isn’t exactly convenient, sprinkling these two seeds—among the most highly concentrated sources of omega-3s in the food world—into smoothies, salads, cereals, pancakes or even desserts is as easy a diet upgrade as you can get. Animal studies suggest a chia-rich diet can lower harmful LDL cholesterol and protect the heart, and a recent study in the journal Hypertension found that daily consumption of flaxseed-fortified bakery products reduced blood pressure in patients with peripheral artery disease. Best absorbed when ground, flax adds delicious nuttiness to oats, cereal, smoothies and baked goods.
Eggs are the single best dietary source of the B vitamin choline, an essential nutrient used in the construction of all the body’s cell membranes. Two eggs will give you half your day’s worth; only beef liver has more. (And believe us, starting your day with a slab of beef liver does not make for a great morning.) Choline deficiency is linked directly to the genes that cause the accumulation of belly fat. Eggs can solve the problem: Research has shown dieters who eat eggs for breakfast as compared to a high-carb meal of a bagel have an easier time losing weight due to their satiety value. At about 70 calories, a hard-boiled egg also makes an easy afternoon snack … just don’t tell your coworkers; according to a personality analysis by the British Egg Industry Council, boiled egg consumers tend to be disorganized! (Other findings: fried egg fans have a high sex drive and omelette eaters are self-disciplined.)
A medium-sized apple, at about 100 calories and 4.5 grams fiber per fruit, is one of the best snack options for anyone looking to slim down—but especially apple-shaped folks. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat (that’s dangerous belly fat) was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Participants who paired their apple-a-day habit with 30 minutes of exercise 2-4 times per week saw a 7.4 percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period. But don’t peel your apple if you want to peel off the pounds: A study conducted at the University of Western Australia found that the blushing varieties (such as Pink Ladies) had the highest level of antioxidant phenols, most of which are found in the skin.
It may be the easiest nutrition upgrade of all: put cinnamon on your toast. According to researchers, cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols proven to improve insulin sensitivity and, in turn, our body’s ability to store fat and manage hunger cues. A series of studies printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a heaping teaspoon cinnamon to a starchy meal may help stabilize blood sugar and ward off insulin spikes.
A scoop of guacamole is one of the most effective hunger-squashers known to man. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. At only 60 calories, a 2 Tablespoon serving of guacamole (on top of eggs, salads, grilled meats, etc.) can provide the same satiety benefit with even more of a flavor punch. Just be sure when buying store-bought guac that avocados actually made it into the box (many are made without the real fruit)! We love Wholly Guacamole as a store brand.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity found people who ate a single serving a day of garbanzo beans or chickpeas (which forms the basis of hummus) each day reported feeling 31 percent fuller than their bean-less counterparts. Packed with fiber and protein, garbanzos have a low glycemic index, meaning that they break down slowly and keep you feeling full. The secret is to avoid varieties made with tahini; sourced from sesame seeds, tahini has a high omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio.
Story Credit- Eat This Not That