Keep your body and mind feeling young and healthy with these seven superfoods selected by registered dietitians Lynn Grieger RD, CDE, and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD. Packed with nutrition, these foods will also help lower your risk of getting osteoporosis, heart disease, and other conditions that become a factor in your 40s and beyond.
Filled with omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have been shown to help protect against heart disease. Grieger chooses walnuts because, "they are a quick high-protein snack that doesn't contain saturated fats."
Recommended Serving Size: 1 ounce, 185 calories
Whole Grain Cereal
Doctors, nutritionists, and the USDA's new nutritional guidelines are emphasizing that whole grain foods are the right kind of carbs -- that is, carbs that add nutrients to your diet rather than inches to your waistline. Plus, says Grieger, "Eating breakfast is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It gives you energy and boosts your metabolism, helping you to lose weight." Choosing a whole grain breakfast cereal that is fortified with all of your vitamins and minerals could also eliminate your need for vitamin supplements. Which cereal tops Grieger's list? Total. Add some strawberries, blueberries, or even a tablespoon of raisins for a tasty bonus.
Recommended Serving Size: 3/4 cup, 120 calories
Meat has made a comeback in recent years, thanks to Atkins and other low-carb diets. In addition to being high in protein, beef is one of the few food sources loaded with zinc. Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, for helping to heal your body faster, and for slowing down the signs of aging. "Most women don't think that they should be eating red meat, but they can receive the benefits of it by consuming just a small amount," says Grieger.
Recommended Serving Size: 3 ounces, cooked, 200 calories
If you find yourself squinting at the computer screen a little more than you used to, you may be experiencing one of the more subtle signs of aging: age-related degeneration of the eye. You can help protect your vision by consuming the antioxidant lutein. Kiwis contain large amounts of this antioxidant, as well as vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. "There is a powerhouse of nutrition in just one cute little kiwi," says Bissex. Grilled chicken, avocado, and kiwi served over a bed of greens makes a tropical salad entree that is low in fat and high in flavor.
Recommended Serving Size: 1 kiwi fruit, 50 calories
New research shows that foods containing antioxidants enhance memory, which makes spinach the perfect brain booster for those days when it feels like you left your mind at home. Plus, spinach contains iron, folate, and vitamin K, all of which are essential for blood clotting and bone health. For a quick side dish, saute some baby spinach in a large non-stick pan with a little garlic and olive oil until it wilts. Or build your salad on top of spinach instead of lettuce.
Recommended Serving Size: 1 cup packed baby spinach, 20 calories
Beans and Legumes
Loaded with calcium, fiber, and antioxidants, beans are the "definitive superfood," says Bissex. They moderate blood sugars and lower cholesterol. Pack your diet with dark beans since they tend to contain more antioxidants and other nutrients than lighter varieties.
Recommended serving size: 1/2 cup, 110 calories
Originally published on BHG.com, January 2005.