When people are trying to lose weight or get in shape, they will frequently tell you about what foods they can’t eat. The media’s emphasis on fad diets and “bad” foods also does little to help individuals cultivate a healthy relationship with eating. Although eating well certainly does involve maintaining a balance, there are definitely some foods that are more nutrient-dense than others. If you’re looking to add some variety in your meals, as well as increase your nutrient intake, here are five over-looked foods that you might want to consider incorporating into your diet:
Quinoa – many people are under the misconception that quinoa is a grain, but it’s actually a seed that’s related to leafy green vegetables like spinach (which also makes it gluten-free!). However, when it’s cooked, quinoa looks and tastes like a grain, which makes it a healthy alternative to many grain products, such as rice, pasta, or couscous. Here are some reasons why this little seed packs a nutrient-filled punch:• Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body uses to build and maintain muscles. If you’re a vegetarian, quinoa is a great way to incorporate some more plant-based protein in your diet. • Quinoa is also high in fiber. If you’re concerned about weight gain, adding more fiber to your diet is a great way to fill you up and keep those hunger pangs at bay. It also plays a very important role in your digestive system by keeping your colon healthy and your blood cholesterol low. • Quinoa also contains a healthy amount of magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure, and keeps your muscles and nerves functioning properly.
Click here to learn how InsideTracker can provide you with personalized food recommendations to help you fulfill your unique taste preferences and physical needs!Maitake Mushrooms – because of their purported immunostimulant properties, these flat mushrooms have been used for hundreds of years. Today, this exceptional little fungi is growing in popularity due to its high vitamin D content. Vitamin D plays a vital role in calcium and phosphorous absorption in the body, which helps to promote a healthy bloodstream and a strong skeleton. In fact, one cup of chopped mushroom contains 827 IU of vitamin D, compared to chopped chicken breast, which only has 7 IU of vitamin D. Combined with the fact that maitakes are also cholesterol-free, these mushrooms are full of significant health properties for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Pumpkin seeds – pumpkin seeds are more than just waste from the inside your jack-o-lantern. You may find pumpkin seeds in granola bars and cereals because of their many health benefits. One half cup of pumpkin seeds can give you nearly your entire recommended daily serving of magnesium—an important electrolyte that is deficient in many individuals. They’re also an excellent source of iron, an energy-boosting nutrient that helps carry oxygen to our cells. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on your salad, or stir some into a smoothie to give you that extra energy kick.
Red onions – onions may give our kitchens a pungent odor, but their health benefits are well worthwhile. Red onions contain a high amount of polyphenols, which are a kind of chemical that promotes overall health. Most notably, red onions are packed with flavonoids in their outer layer, which many studies suggest can reduce the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Quick preparation tip: since so many of the flavonoids are located in the outer layer of the onion, try not to over-peel it when you are cooking.
Seaweed – Seaweed is as vegetarians dream! Not only does it add a lot of flavor to cooking, but it’s high in amino acids, which makes seaweed a valuable source of protein. In addition to amino acids, seaweed is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium. Seaweed also one of the few plant-based sources of vitamin B-12, which provides energy and repairs muscle tissue.