by Karen Roth, MSNC
The term “superfoods” is very popular these days. Often times you see it on protein powders and supplements. They are labeled as such because of the many health-promoting qualities they provide. Superfoods often contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Your mind may think of Goji or acai berries, but superfoods are not so mysterious. Many are easily found in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Let’s take a look at the many choices you have to easily incorporate some of these healthy foods into your daily diet.
Let your eyes help you in choosing the healthiest foods, because many dark and brightly colored fruits and vegetables are considered superfoods. The brighter the color, the more health promoting properties they provide.
Berries. No surprise here! Just look at the deep color of a blueberry or blackberry. Among most fruits, berries are the lowest in sugar, and highest in fiber. They are also high in potassium and vitamin C. You don’t have to limit your intake to blueberries or blackberries. Raspberries and strawberries are just a healthy. You can eat these super berries alone, or add them to yogurt, salads, smoothies, or hot cereal. I recommend purchasing organic berries. According to the Environmental Working Group, berries, and particularly strawberries, are the most heavily spray with pesticides.
Fatty Fish. Low in saturated fat, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies provide not only a good source of protein, but also an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s no wonder most fish oil supplements are primarily made from anchovies, sardines, and mackerel. If eating fish is not your thing, I highly recommend supplementing with fish oil so you reap the health benefits from omega-3s.
Dark Leafy Greens. “Hold the Kale Chips!” I can hear what readers are thinking. Kale and spinach are truly superfoods in the family of greens. They are both great sources of potassium; iron; folate; and vitamins A, C, and K. Potassium plays a key role in regulating fluid in the body. Whenever I hear someone complain about “retaining water,” I think of potassium deficiency. Vitamins A and C support immune health while vitamin K plays a crucial role in bone health. You can get a week’s worth of vitamin K by eating just one spinach salad. And, if you don’t like cooked kale, chop it in small pieces and make a super salad. Simply mix the kale with chunks of mango, blueberries, and sliced almonds. Next, stir in extra virgin olive oil and a vinegar of your choice.
Pinole. Here’s one may have never heard of before. Pinole is a super grain made from rare purple maize. Aztecs used it in their diets over 500 years ago for energy and endurance. It has four times the antioxidants of blueberries and is high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Pinole has three times the protein and two times the fiber of oatmeal. It’s also gluten-free. You can use it as a hot cereal, put it in smoothies, or even bake with it.
by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN
As a dietitian, when I used to counsel individuals, there were several occasions when my clients brought in shopping baskets filled with supplements. They couldn’t remember exactly all of the reasons why they bought them nor how much or how often to take them. If this sounds like you, you are NOT alone! I think we’d all like to get the most out of our supplements through proper timing, combining, and dosing. Here are a few basic supplements I’ll be covering: vitamins C, B, and D; calcium; magnesium; iron; omega-3 fish oil; and probiotics.
Typically, most supplements are recommended to be taken with a meal because there’s a synergistic effect of better absorption. Fat soluble supplements like vitamins A, D, E, and K should be taken with a meal containing healthy fats, like avocado, salmon, or nut butter for optimal absorption. Some vitamin and mineral supplements can cause nausea or heartburn when taken on an empty stomach, and taking too many supplements at once may cause an upset stomach. If you experience the latter, I recommend taking your supplements across multiple meals.
Water-soluble vitamin C and the B vitamins are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Amounts of the B vitamins and vitamin C not used by the body pass out of the body; therefore, it’s recommended to split the doses of vitamin C and B vitamins throughout the day. When doses are split, it helps keep blood levels elevated. Too much vitamin C taken at once (3 g and up) can cause gastrointestinal (GI) stress, such as loose stools, in some people. Splitting the dose to 250-500 mg with breakfast and lunch works well. B vitamins tend to give people more energy, so it’s best to take them with breakfast and lunch also.
Calcium and magnesium are critical for bone, cardiovascular, and nerve health. Taking them in a combined supplement in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio is best. Be sure to take calcium with food and in split doses because our body absorbs them better in smaller doses of 400-500 mg/meal.
Iron is best taken on an empty stomach for maximum absorption first thing in the morning with orange juice. The caffeine in coffee and the calcium in dairy can interfere with its absorption, while vitamin C and vitamin C-rich foods can enhance it.
Omega-3 fish oil should always be taken with food, as the fat in our meal with also help its absorption. It’s also beneficial to take fish oil in divided doses of around 500-1,000 mg per meal.
Harsh stomach acids can destroy certain probiotic strains, so they’re best taken on an empty stomach. Different strains may have different tolerances to stomach acids, so it’s best to take them before meals.
It can be confusing what to take when. In doubt, follow the recommendation listed on the label. If you have concerns about interactions with medications, be sure to speak to a pharmacist or health practitioner.
Celebrating the women behind the Carlson brand. Carlson began in 1965 as one woman’s mission to improve the health of families by creating nutritional supplements with high-quality ingredients. Susan Carlson’s father suffered from heart issues but found relief after taking natural-source vitamin E. Inspired by this discovery and her background as a pharmacist, Susan started Carlson out of her small Chicago apartment with a single vitamin E formula. Her product line quickly expanded, and Carlson began popping up on store shelves around Chicago. The wave continued across the nation.
In the early 1980s, Carlson helped launch the omega-3 marketing in North America, importing our first high-quality, great-tasting, sustainable fish oils from Norway. Today, the commitment to helping families live a healthier lifestyle continues, as Susan’s daughters Carilyn and Kirsten continue the Carlson family’s mission to produce high-quality, science-based, competitively-priced nutritional supplements. Carlson now offers more than 200 vitamins, minerals, omega-3s, kid’s products, and other special formulas for the entire family.
The Daily Dose blog features health and wellness articles from Senior Nutritionist & Educator Jolie Root, LPN,LNC; Nutritionist & Educator Laurel Sterling, MA, RDN, CDN; and Featured Guest Blogger Karen Roth, MSNC. Other guest bloggers will also join us.
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