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Oct 9, 2012 by RICHARD BRACKE
Identifying 5 Healthy and Preventative Foods

Take a stroll into your local grocery store and I bet you can’t even make it in a few strides without being bombarded with product labels boasting their latest, fat-free, no sugar, protein-crammed, age-defying, super-awesome-amazing-tasting latest creation. Aside from what these labels are telling you, can you be absolutely certain that these products are going to live up to their claim? Instead of playing nutritional roulette, next time you are at the store go straight to the source. Below is a list of five great foods that come packed with preventative vitamins and minerals, naturally.

1. Flaxseed
Often being mistaken for more of a grain than a seed, a well-rounded tablespoon of flaxseed can pack quite the punch. If losing weight and keeping it off is on your to-do list, consider adding a serving of these nutritionally-rich seeds into your daily intake regiment. Flaxseeds carry the highest amount of omega-3s in the plant world. A serving of these little guys can rival that of salmon, winter squash and walnuts. Flaxseeds also come equipped with high levels of fiber, both in the soluble and insoluble form (fiber being a great resource for blood sugar stabilization and its cholesterol lowering effects). When making your next flaxseed purchase remember that it needs to be stored in a cool place, preferably a refrigerator. This is due to flaxseed’s high unsaturated oil content which can go rancid if not properly kept. Also, don’t forget that flax needs to be ground in order for your body to get the most nutrition from these little seeds.

2. Olive Oil

A common misconception of olive oil is that it is high in fat and hence, should be avoided if you progress in any weight loss program. While it is true that olive oil is high in fat, it happens to be high in the right kinds of fat. Olive oil contains what are known as MUFA’s (monounsaturated fatty acids). This kind of fat plays an integral role in helping your body keep its cholesterol levels down. MUFA’s aid your red blood cells in their flow through your body and regulate their clotting, specifically in your arteries and other potential problem spots. Olive oil also comes loaded with antioxidants which aid in brain function, skin aging and may also prevent or aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

3. Greek Yogurt

The popularity of Greek yogurt has been on the rise in recent years. With Chobani’s brand of Greek yogurt being chosen as the official yogurt of the London Olympic games (beating out Yoplait) its popularity can only increase from here. So what’s the hype all about you may be wondering? The differences all occur in the straining process. When Greek yogurt is prepared it is strained to a much more aggressive length than that of its rival varieties. As it is strained many of the original sugars are removed as well as the lactose and whey. A serving of Greek yogurt contains a whopping two times as much protein than your average, non-Greek, variety and almost half the sugar content. Consumers of Greek yogurt will also enjoy a cut in carbs as it contains almost half that of other varieties.

4. Blueberries

A typical serving of blueberries supplies you with only 80 calories and almost no fat to boot. So why is it that blueberries are called the anti-aging miracle? Well, to start blueberries contain a high amount of Vitamin C, nearly a quarter of your daily allowance. Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen formation which aids in helping your skin keep its natural youth. Another excellent ingredient of blueberries is its manganese. Manganese is a compound that helps keep your bones developing normally. Manganese also aids in changing the protein, fats and carbohydrates in other foods you use into usable energy. Just like olive oil, blueberries also come full of antioxidants which in addition to their other mentioned benefits, will also aid in the prevention of certain kinds of cancers. The majority of these antioxidants come from a chemical called anthocyanin, which gives the berry its blue coloring.

5. Quinoa

Pronounced keen-wah, this grain is a great addition to any cupboard. Naturally gluten-free, quinoa is low on fat and high in a host of other great, healthy components. An average serving of quinoa is fortified with 8 grams of protein, which can cover about 1/8th of your daily intake recommendations. A protein rich diet helps the creation of new cells, maintain existing tissues and of course protein synthesis (which helps your body perform a vast array of vital functions) Quinoa is also an amazing source of iron, fiber, potassium and calcium. Quinoa makes a great side dish and can be prepared in a variety of different ways.

While this list will only get your feet wet in the world of nutritionally rich foods, there is a whole world out there with plenty more. Local health food stores and other natural grocers are a great resource just waiting to be utilized. Employees at these kinds of places would be more than eager to assist you in picking out a wide variety of other products that will help you on your way to becoming a healthier and more efficient you!

An avid writer, father, and foodie, Richard Bracke loves to try new out new restaurants in Charlotte, and especially enjoys Spanish tapas. He currently blogs for the website EZ Cater.

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