Food fads come and go, and so-called “superfoods” are almost always more about the hype than the science.
Why? Because no single food can do it all. Decades of research shows that dietary diversity is the top factor when it comes to good nutrition and health.
That said, there are several standby foods that should always be part of a balanced diet. Some are, or will soon be, available during the autumn harvest. And you can easily get the others year-round—either frozen or fresh.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised that these stalwart foods won’t break the bank. Nor do you need to worry about the environmental impacts of shipping exotic foods and berries halfway around the world.
All of my “fabulous five” nutritious, delicious foods are grown or caught in the United States, making it simple to include them as part of your balanced diet. I suggest you eat each of the following foods at least several times a week.
Without further ado, meet the “fabulous five superfoods”:
- Almonds are quite versatile and I recommend them in all forms—whole, sliced, slivered, crushed, or as almond butter. Just stay away from those ridiculous almond “milk” products. (The amount of water almond milk production requires is wasteful, especially considering it’s mostly made in California, which is experiencing its worst water crisis in recent history. Not to mention all the energy exerted on transport. It’s best to stick with regular, locally-sourced milk.)
These nuts are high in healthy essential fatty acids, fiber, and protein, as well as key micronutrients like vitamin E and magnesium. Studies show almonds not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but also reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
You can eat almonds at any meal, and even as a healthy snack. Add slivered almonds to fruit and yogurt for breakfast, top your lunchtime salad with sliced almonds, or use crushed almonds as a tasty topping on fish or meat for dinner.
Serving size: 1/8 cup a day
- Avocados are finally being referred as a “healthy” food by the FDA, after years of failing to recognize their nutritional value because they are considered “high-fat.” But just because these creamy fruits contain fat, doesn’t mean they’re bad for you. In fact, avocados are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fat.
Avocados are also a good source of carotenoids; fatty acids; vitamins A, B, C, E, and K1; and the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
They’re also high in betaine, which, as I wrote in the November 2015 issue of Insiders’ Cures (“The heart hazard throwing aging into overdrive” which you can access via www.DrMicozzi.com), helps protect against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
New research shows that avocados can also protect against diabetes and obesity. And they contain phytosterols and phytostanols, which are important for prostate health.
Avocados are traditionally used in salads, sandwiches, and guacamole. But there are many more tasty options for this versatile food.
Processed chocolate pudding is like a paste compared to mousse made from avocado and cacao powder. You can also use avocado sticks, instead of potato, to make fries.
For a nutritious breakfast with almost no clean-up, put an egg inside half an avocado, place the avocado in a baking dish, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Or make a quick banana-avocado smoothie to get your potassium and healthy essential fatty acids for the day.
Serving size: 2 to 3 avocados per week
- Beans are considered one the “three sisters” of traditional Native American agriculture, along with corn and squash. According to the Iroquois legend of the three sisters, the earth began when Sky Woman fell through the sky into the sea and onto a “giant turtle island” (North America). Her daughter died giving birth to twin sons, and she was buried. From her grave grew three sacred plants—beans, corn, and squash.
In “three sisters” agricultural practice, beans are planted so they grow up the stalks of corn. The corn acts as a beanpole, and the beans strengthen the stalks from the ravages of wind and rain. Various squashes, including pumpkins, grow along the ground, and their huge leaves protect the soil and capture water. Meanwhile, the beans add nitrogen to the soil to benefit the corn and squash.
Beans are from the legume family. All legumes have a type of bacteria on their root nodules that allow them to add and capture more nitrogen from the soil. This nitrogen is the building block of amino acids, which in turn, are the building blocks of protein and the nucleic acids that make DNA and RNA. This is why legumes are higher in protein than other plant sources. However, they don’t contain all of the amino acids needed to make the “complete proteins” found in animal sources like fish, meat, and dairy. Nonetheless, they’re still nutritional powerhouses, at least for plants.
Beans carry about 125 calories per half-cup, and provide 15% of your daily protein requirement. They’re also rich in fiber (25% of your daily intake). They are key for lowering your blood fats, promote growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut, and can help you stay on a weight-loss diet by making you feel full.
As the Native Americans learned, beans can be dried and stored without losing their nutritional value. While I usually advise shopping for fresh foods on the perimeter of the grocery store, you can venture into the center aisles to buy dried and canned black, red, kidney, and cannellini beans, along with black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans (chickpeas).
For a healthy, protein-packed breakfast, combine black beans, tomatoes, a little water, and a teaspoon of cumin in an oven-safe skillet, and simmer. Crack a few eggs on top of the mixture, and put the skillet in the oven. Bake at 425 degrees until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
For lunch, a handful of chickpeas adds texture to a salad, and ground chickpeas are the base of the popular Middle Eastern dish, hoummus. For dinner, beans make a great substitute for starchy side dishes like rice and potatoes. And as the nights grow colder, a hot bowl of chili or lentil soup can be a satisfying and filling dinner.
Serving size: ½ cup, twice a week
- Blueberries are little nutrient powerhouses. They’re high in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. They’re also lower in fructose (fruit sugar) than other fruits. In fact, half a cup of blueberries has only 40 calories.
These tiny fruits also have anti-inflammatory and heart-health benefits. Studies show they can also boost your immunity and help protect against obesity and diabetes. They’re even a potent protector against gum disease.
If that weren’t enough, research shows that blueberries protect against dementia, increase cognitive function, and improve short and long-term memory. To learn more about blueberries’ brain-boosting benefits, refer to my online Complete Alzheimer’s Cure Protocol (for more information or to enroll today, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3TA00).
You can grow your own blueberries (as I discussed in the May 2017 issue of Insiders’ Cures) and freeze them for later consumption. I like to add frozen blueberries to smoothies in place of ice. You can also combine blueberries with almonds and sprinkle them on your breakfast oatmeal or lunchtime salad. And, of course, a bowl of fresh berries is one of the best desserts you’ll ever eat. You can also use a blueberry compote with turkey and dressing, just as you would cranberry sauce.
Another option is adding a dry powdered extract of blueberries to any beverage. Just be sure to look for a food-quantity dose (400 mg) of powdered blueberry.
Serving size: ½ cup of fresh or frozen blueberries per day, or 400 mg of blueberry powder
- Salmon is loaded with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, the rich pink color of salmon is attributed to healthy carotenoids, similar to those found in fruits and vegetables on land.
This tasty fish is a powerful anti-inflammatory and key for heart health. Salmon also helps protect against skin damage from ultraviolet radiation, prevent eye disease, and reduce cognitive decline.
But you’ll only get these health benefits from wild-caught salmon out of the Pacific Ocean. Virtually all Atlantic salmon is farmed, and studies show it only has about one-tenth the nutritional value of its wild cousin.
If you can’t obtain or afford fresh, wild-caught Pacific salmon, frozen or canned salmon is a viable option. Ground salmon is also a good substitute for ground meats and poultry in just about any dish. Plus prices are finally coming down at Whole Foods (since they were acquired by Amazon), which has an excellent fresh fish selection.
While you can’t go wrong with a simple grilled salmon filet, there are more exotic recipes as well. Try using ground salmon to make meatballs. Or add salmon to the avocado and egg dish I mentioned earlier.
And salmon makes a wonderful addition to any salad. Toss in some avocado slices, chickpeas, almond slivers, and blueberries, and you’ll get your daily dose of all my “fabulous five superfoods” all in one meal!
Serving size: 3 ounces, twice a week
Bottom line: With these five foods in your refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard, you have the makings of meals and snacks that are both healthy and delicious year-round.