So how do you still enjoy the nutrients these superfoods provide to your waist and overall health, without having to eat them?
There’s no way that you will look, perform and feel at your best if your diet doesn’t provide plenty of food sources rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and good fats. But odds are you may be filling one compartment more than other. For instance, you love fish, but hate vegetables. This can lead to a nutrients imbalance—plenty of omega-3 fatty acids while little antioxidants and fiber.
Take the case of people who avoid gluten. They can pack on protein and veggies, but be short on other nutrients. “A gluten-free diet, as typically followed, may be high in fat and low in fiber and many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, folate, and niacin,” says Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant for celiac disease.
Instead of avoiding healthy foods you do not enjoy swap them out for more appealing choices that have the same or similar nutritional benefits. Here are some examples from Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, author of “The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories & Fat Disappear- with Fiber!”
What’s good? From omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and magnesium to vitamin E and fiber, nuts are a true nutrition star. They are not just good for the heart and the skin, but studies show people who eat nuts regularly have less belly fat. Some nuts provide fewer calories than originally thought. And if you go nuts when eating them and can’t stop after a handful (they are still high in calories) have them shelled, like pistachios. A recent study showed that people who ate shelled pistachios had less than unshelled pistachios eaters.
What’s a good swap? Flaxseeds contain vitamin E and are packed full of fiber (just be sure to use ground flaxseed to get the benefits of flaxseeds’ vitamins and minerals). Soybeans contain fiber and protein, a winning combination to help you stay full in between meals. Try adding steamed edamame to stir-fry dishes, as a side dish, or you can enjoy dried soy nuts and add them to a salad for a delicious crunchy topping.
What’s good? Fish is a calorie bargain. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B-vitamins, calcium, and other important nutrients. It is not just one of the best options to build muscle mass and joint health, but also provides plenty of the B-vitamins to keep your metabolism going and energy up.
What’s a good substitute? To get omega-3 fatty acids try including nuts, soybeans, canola oil, and flaxseeds. You can get B vitamins from pork, poultry, and yogurt. Egg whites provide tons of protein without extra fat and calories, which makes it a great non-fish alternative. Chia seeds may have it all—this nutty tasting seed contains more omega-3 fatty acid in a serving than salmon. Chia seeds are also high in fiber; 2 tablespoons contain 8 grams of fiber, and are a good source of protein and calcium.
3. Veggies/ fruits
What’s good? Both provide ample amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are tough to get from other food choices. Your five-servings-a-day can make you healthier, leaner, and even happier since many colorful veggies and fruits support neurotransmitters linked to relaxation, calmness, and better sleep.
What’s a good swap? If you loathe most vegetables then bulk up your fruit intake. Fruits have more calories and sugar, but still serve up plenty of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Choose high fiber fruits, such as raspberries, apples, pears, and blueberries. And if you are not a fruit fan load up on broccoli, which is one of the greatest cruciferous and a rich source of calcium, vitamin C, A, folate, and fiber.
And if you can only tolerate your five-a-day in a juice, make sure to throw your veggies and fruits with the peel, which contains most of the fiber. Likewise, beware of serving size as an apple may have 80 calories and apple juice may be over 100 calories and loaded with added sugars.
If you’ll buy soup, check out the calories on the label—usually it’s two servings per package so multiply by two everything: calories, fiber, protein, fats, sodium, fat, and sugar. It should be less than 1.5g for salt, 15g total for fat, and less than 15g for sugar, per 100g of food.
What’s good? Dairy is rich in calcium, vitamin-D, and protein. This makes it one of the best food sources for bone and muscle mass health. It is also linked to weight loss control due to its whey and casein protein content along with essential amino acids supply). Dairy boosts heart health too due to its potassium content, which may help to manage high blood pressure.
What’s a good swap? For those who are lactose intolerant there is plenty of Lactaid dairy products or hard cheeses and Greek yogurt, which are low in lactose and are well tolerated. If you are allergic to dairy there are still plenty of alternatives that provide similar nutrients, such as egg whites, poultry, fish, and calcium fortified tofu and soy products. (Edamame contains the equivalent amount of protein as meat or eggs, making it a great protein option if you are vegetarian or vegan.)
5. Whole grains
What’s good? Whole grains retain the bran and endosperm layer, which contains vitamins A, E and B-6, as well as zinc, iron, and fiber. The fiber found in whole grains is important for a healthy diet because it keeps you full; fiber slows digestion, keeping the food in your stomach longer, leading to stable blood sugars and increased satiety.
What’s a good swap? If you are not a fan, or are allergic, flaxseed, millet, buckwheat, and quinoa are great ways to add the fiber and vitamins and minerals found in whole grain products.