Here are 5 functional foods to aim to include on your plate every day:
Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and romaine lettuce, arugula, kale, and bok choy pack a punch when it comes to functional properties. They are rich in fiber (healthy digestion), folate (healthy cell replication), carotenoids (antioxidants), vitamin K (healthy blood coagulation), iron and calcium. Start your day by adding some fresh or frozen spinach to your smoothie or wilting some Swiss chard in your eggs. Here’s a favorite frittata recipe from my meal plans to make ahead for a delicious breakfast all week: Chard Tomato and Zucchini Frittata.
Don’t let the tiny size of a chia seed fool you. It is a functional food superhero. These tiny seeds pack in complete protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and tons of fiber. Sprinkle over yogurt, oatmeal, and salads, blended into smoothies or enjoy as a breakfast pudding like this Tropical Chia Seed pudding. Assembly is a snap. Combine ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid, shake well and refrigerate overnight. Breakfast is ready to grab and go.
The beautiful deep reds, blues and purples of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) boast of their antioxidant content. Berries are known for their free-radical scavenging compounds like anthocyanin, flavonols, and tannins. Frozen, they are a tasty addition to smoothies. Fresh, they are a delicious added into salads, or make an satisfying snack as in this Pineapple Berry Citrus Salad (paired with a palmful of nuts)
Avocado: Avocados are a well-known source of healthy fats, but they also contain quantum amounts of fiber [1/2 an avocado will get you to 25% of your daily value.] potassium (heart health) and vitamin C (immune boosting). Enjoy as guacamole, smash on toast with a squeeze of lemon, tossed in salads or or to add creaminess to a smoothie. Check out a meal plan favorite the Detox Green Smoothie.
Fermented foods that provide a natural source of living probiotics, important to gut and brain health. Yogurt is probably the most familiar probiotic-rich fermented foods in the supermarket, but there are many more to explore. Check out the refrigerator section of your local grocery for fermented fruit-flavored teas like kombucha, salty savory miso paste (for soups and salad dressings), tangy sauerkrauts, pickles, and fermented veggies. Try this lemon miso salad dressing in Herbed Quinoa Tabbouleh. Make a double batch of the dressing store in the refrigerator. Use on salads, over leftover veggies and proteins for an added a probiotic boost to your day!