“Superfoods” for a Super You

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- As the weather is changing this time of year, our body’s immune system may start to plummet and we are more likely to get sick. Therefore, now more than ever it is best to improve our immune system by eating many foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! Some may call these type of foods “superfoods” which means that the food is packed with good nutrients to keep us healthy all year round. My top picks for “superfoods” are as follows. I recommend adding to your daily nutrition plan whenever possible! 

Blueberries. Blueberries are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants that help fight off disease and free radical damage. These antioxidants help prevent diseases such as glaucoma, heart disease and cancer. Not only are they rich in antioxidants but also vitamins C & K which aide in a healthy immune system and reducing bone loss.
Blueberries are also very easy to incorporate into your daily eating pattern. Throw them on top of a salad or into a fruit smoothie. They are also great on their own as a healthy snack or on top of Greek yogurt! 

Dark Chocolate. Dark Chocolate is one of the richest foods in antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Flavanol is one of the main flavonoids found in dark chocolate and has had positive effects on heart health such as lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation to the heart and brain. It has even been shown that cocoa flavanols consumed daily helped improve cognitive performance.
Dark chocolate is easy to incorporate into your diet. It can be blended into shakes or use dark chocolate chips substituted for milk chocolate chips in baked goods. You can also eat 1-2 squares on their own to help curb over a sweet craving. 

Kale. Kale is also rich in flavanols. Consumption of kale and related vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) have been correlated with a decreased risk of a variety of cancers. Kale is very high in vitamin A which is key for eye health, immune system and cellular growth. It promotes healthier looking skin and contains more iron than beef per calorie. Iron is needed to help transport oxygen to the muscles and for hair, skin and nail health.
Kale can be incorporated into your diet by adding it to smoothies, stews/soups, and even marinara sauces. Use kale instead of iceberg lettuce or romaine in salad to really boost the nutrient profile!

Eggs. Eggs used to have a bad reputation due to their high cholesterol content. But now eggs have been shown to actually help raise your good cholesterol and they pack a ton of nutrients and antioxidants such as lutein which lowers your risk for age-related eye disorders like cataracts. Eggs also contain a large source of B vitamins, iron, choline and all 9 essential amino acids! Choline is needed for a healthy nervous system, cell messaging, and DNA synthesis. Plus, if you’re trying to build muscle, eating whole eggs is better than egg whites; no need to throw away the yolk!
Eggs can be incorporated into the diet by eating them for breakfast scrambled, as an omelet or in a burrito. A fried or poached egg can be added on top of avocado toast or a sandwich. Eating hard boiled eggs as a snack is easy and provides valuable protein to get you through to your next meal! 

Cinnamon. Cinnamon is more of a super spice than a super food but very beneficial to our health none-the-less! Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, calcium and manganese which helps decrease risk for osteoporosis and decreasing inflammation! Cinnamon has also been associated with lower blood sugar and cholesterol in those with Type 2 Diabetes.
Cinnamon may be added on top of toast, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, and even coffee! It is also great during Fall in a warm cup of apple cider!

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