National Nutrition Month: The Best Bites for your Blood

By Diana Licalzi Mar 23, 2016

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Did you know March is National Nutrition Month? We take nutrition pretty seriously around here, so we figured it's a perfect time to pay homage to foods that best fuel our blood. Forget the Oscars — we're joining the action with the inaugural InsideTracker Food Awards! Actors get a nod for their great performances; why shouldn't the modest mushroom, or the stellar steak?

We’ve grouped the body's biomarkers into eight categories and awarded each category a "winning food," based on its nutritional content and ability to pack a performance and health punch.  Plus, we’ve created a recipe around each food (free to download) so you can whip up a healthy storm in the kitchen!

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Metabolism and Weight Control (Glucose, Triglycerides, LDL, HDL & Total Cholesterol)

Nominees: Olive oil, Oatmeal, Almonds

Glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides all go hand in hand. Poor heart health and high fasting glucose correlate with high triglyceride levels. Glucose is the body's primary source of energy; therefore, it must be regulated to maintain good health. And normal levels of cholesterol are important for maintaining energy, active metabolism, and a healthy heart.

Winner: Oatmeal

Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber allowing it to be digested slowly, stabilizing blood glucose. The high fiber also lowers cholesterol levels, raises HDL “good cholesterol” and controls triglyceride levels.

Recipe: Oatmeal with Blueberries

This oatmeal recipe is the champion of all breakfasts. Its high fiber content scores high marks for its positive impact on metabolism and weight control. Now, that's a way to start off your day!

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Oxygen Transfer & Blood Function (Iron Group)

Nominees: Spinach, Morel mushrooms, Steak

Iron is the key component of hemoglobin, which allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. Your body takes in iron from the food you eat so it is important to have good sources of iron in your diet!

Winner:  Steak

While spinach and quinoa are top contenders for non-heme (plant) sources of iron, steak wins the category because of our body’s ability to absorb heme (meat) sources of iron much more efficiently.

Recipe: Steak Salad

Filled with veggies, protein and nearly 5mg of iron, this winning combination will boost your oxygen transfer and blood function in no time.

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Inflammation (White Blood Cells, hsCRP)

Nominees: Blueberries, Chia seeds, Spinach

Your white blood cell count and high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) are strong indicators of inflammation throughout the body. When both biomarkers are in the optimal range, your overall health and quality of life improve. 

Winner: Chia seeds

Blueberries and spinach pack a powerful nutrition punch, but chia seeds go the extra mile. These tiny little seeds are loaded with so much nutrition, they’re hard not to love. Not only are chia seeds full of antioxidants and fiber but they’re also brimming with healthy fats – a winning combination to fight inflammation.

Recipe: Chia Seed Pudding 

Create pudding out of chia seeds and you’ve got yourself a guilt-free dessert. This sweet treat will fend off inflammation keeping your white blood cells happy.  

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Cognition (Magnesium, Vitamin B12 & Folate)

Nominees: Broccoli, Pumpkin seeds, Asparagus

Did you know people are likely to sleep better and feel happier when they have adequate amounts of magnesium? Add vitamin B12 and folate to the mix and you’ll be sure to optimize your energy production, repair muscle tissue and produce new cells.

Winner: Broccoli

And the award goes to Broccoli! Cooked or raw, broccoli is a good source of both folate and magnesium. And what it lacks in B12 can easily be made up with a side of animal based protein.

Recipe: Soba Noodle Stir Fry

Forget plain pasta: this dish not only contains stellar nutrients from broccoli but the chicken contributes a perfect dose of B12 to benefit your cognition, allowing your brain and body to function at their best.


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Bone & Muscle Health (Vitamin D & Calcium)

Nominees: Salmon, Eggs, Cheese

Calcium is important for maintaining and repairing bone and muscle tissue while Vitamin D helps the body absorb sufficient levels of calcium.

Winner: TIED Eggs AND cheese

The best foods for bone and muscle health tend to come in pairs. Whole eggs are a great source of vitamin D while cheese tops the calcium charts – remember to pick low- or non-fat cheese and eat it in moderation to keep those cholesterol levels in check.

Recipe: Egg Whites with Feta Cheese

A healthy version of eggs with cheese? You bet! This whole-egg dish is packed with both calcium and vitamin D – nutrients essential for bone & muscle health.

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Electrolytes & Fluid Balance (Potassium & Sodium)

Nominees: Avocado, Salmon, Parsnips

Potassium and sodium are essential for maintaining mineral balance and regulating blood pressure in the body. Unfortunately, many of the foods we consume in the American diet are loaded with sodium but little potassium.

Winner: Salmon

Salmon doesn’t usually come to mind when you think of potassium, but it’s surprisingly an excellent source of the nutrient!  Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium thereby helping lower your risk of high blood pressure.

Recipe: Grilled Salmon 

This grilled salmon recipe includes avocado providing a hefty amount of potassium while keeping sodium levels at bay ensuring a healthy balance of electrolytes and fluids.

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Strength & Endurance (Creatine Kinase, Cortisol & Testosterone Group) 

Nominees: Halibut, Chicken, Oats

Adequate testosterone, cortisol and creatine kinase contribute to healthy muscle tissue, improve strength, and reduce the risk of injury.

Winner: Chicken

To maintain healthy muscle tissue, protein is a must! Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. Drizzle a little olive oil on it, and you’ve got a perfect dose of cortisol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids.

Recipe: Lemon Herb Chicken

This protein packed chicken dish is not only flavorful but also benefits all three biomarkers – improving your strength and endurance in every way.

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Liver Function & Toxicity (Liver Enzymes Group) 

Nominees: Artichokes, Halibut, Pinto beans

To determine the degree of toxicity in your liver, three important enzymes are measured - alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transaminase (GGT).  Low levels of these enzymes indicate a healthier liver.

Winner: Halibut 

High in protein and healthy fats, this fish will reduce your liver enzymes and improve your liver function.

Recipe: Mediterranean Halibut 

With no sugar, a low calorie count, and an extra dose of omega 3s, this plate will have your liver working at its optimum potential!

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