There is no question that consumers are more concerned than every about whether the food they are buying is good for them. Health factors are influencing buying decisions as never before.
According to Berkley Wellness, a service of the University of California, the essential steps to a healthy diet are to eat mostly foods derived from plants — vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, while limiting highly processed foods.
The Institute of Food Technologists has recently highlighted 9 seeds and fruits that provide maximum nutrition while minimizing processed food.
Fruits and seeds
The first is Chia seeds, which are often used in yogurt, homemade trail mixes, baked goods, commercial nutrition bars, beverages and snacks. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Flaxseeds are another good source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens in the form of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. A Canadian study has also linked eating ground whole flaxseed to lowering blood cholesterol.
Sunflower Seeds are often considered a traditional ballpark snack but they provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, and phytochemicals like choline, lignan, phenolic acids and betaine.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are another “snack” that provides a powerful nutritional punch between meals.
New respect for blueberries
Blueberries have garnered increase nutritional accolades in recent years. Daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness. They are also packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, fructose, and antioxidants. Antioxidants in blueberries are linked to the prevention/delaying of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and the aging process.
Acai berry extracts have been linked to dubious claims in recent years but the berries themselves are an indisputably rich source of anthocyanin and have a fatty acid ratio similar to olive oil. They have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Tart cherries are healthy because they are high in anthocyanin and have high antioxidant activity. Studies have shown they can help you sleep, reduce inflammation in arthritis and gout, and promote recovery from sports injury.
Avocados should also be on your shopping list. More than just the main ingredient in guacamole, avocados have beneficial effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors that extend beyond their heart-healthy fatty acid profile.
For example, a study of 45 overweight or obese subjects who ate a moderate-fat diet including an avocado daily found avocado consumption had a positive impact on cholesterol than those on a similar diet without the avocado or those on a lower-fat diet.
Finally, cranberries can promote improved health when you work them into your diet. Cranberries have long been associated with benefiting urinary tract health but have also shown to benefit heart health, cancer prevention, oral health, and glycemic response.