Summer is a great time to focus on health and fitness, and a large contributor to that is the foods you eat. But walking into the grocery store with nutrition in mind can be overwhelming. Where do I start? And once I get the foods I need, how do I incorporate them into my diet? I’ve put together a list of 10 of the healthiest foods for your body and some ideas of what to do with them.
10. Acai Berries
These little guys are packed with natural antioxidants and are super tasty on top of it. They’re hard to find fresh, but frozen unsweetened acai berries are an easy addition to any smoothie. Avoid juices with added sugar and opt instead for the natural berry. It’s easy to combine with sweet fruits for something delicious and nutritious.
Another antioxidant-rich berry, blueberries have been suggested to protect vision and even improve memory. Get them by the carton and eat them plain, add them to smoothies, salads, yogurt, or oatmeal for a colorful boost to your meal.
8. Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranates are packed with more vitamin C and potassium than most fruits—and they contain fewer calories. They’re a little more difficult to extract from the fruit, but a handful of these tiny seeds are a fresh, tasty, and super nutritious mouthful that’s worth the effort.
Bananas are great for the super active person, as the high concentration of potassium prevents cramping. Bananas are easy to eat on the go or to slice up and add to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, or anything else you like.
This dark green leafy vegetable does wonders for bone health, eye protection, and a little natural detox. Using kale in salads ups their nutritional value in a simple way, and steaming kale with other vegetables makes for a robust side dish any time of the day.
Quinoa is a great gluten-free source of protein and amino acids, and is a tasty base for a variety bowl. Pair a serving of quinoa with some salmon or tuna, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids your body needs. They are also known to be really good for your skin, which is helpful when you spend so much time out in the hot summer sun! Add some greens (like kale or spinach) and low-sodium soy sauce, hot sauce, or salsa for a fresh lunch dish.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and is also packed with protein. This mild food goes well with a pile of vegetables for a side that helps those hard-working muscles recover. Unfortunately, cottage cheese is also high in sodium. If sodium is a concern for you, a good alternative is Greek yogurt.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is often a better choice for an alternative source of protein. It contains fewer carbs and less sodium than cottage cheese, and a consistency more pleasant to pickier eaters. Probiotic yogurt also aids digestion and keeps your system full of beneficial bacteria. Slice up some fruit for a bowl of plain Greek yogurt or add a cup to your smoothie to make it thick and delicious.
2. Chia Seeds/Flax Seeds/Hemp Seeds
Various types of seeds are tiny powerhouses that easy supplement almost any dish. Chia, flax, and hemp seeds contain a lot of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids as well as fiber, calcium, and protein. Sprinkle them on oatmeal, cereal, salad, stir fry, or make a pudding out of chia seeds and almond milk for a nutty dessert.
The number one super food to improve your health this summer is water. Keeping your body hydrated is essential for the active athlete, and it helps control hunger for the avid snacker. Water keeps your muscles balanced, helps you focus and avoid fatigue, aids healthy digestion, and even keeps your skin clear and your hair and nails healthy. Always keep a full water bottle with you, and keep drinking even after you work out.