Work-Out Super-Foods

Super-foods ~ Weight Loss

Popping a daily multivitamin might be worthwhile as "health insurance," but let's face it: Eating real food is a lot more fun than gobbling supplements.

Besides, you can get most, if not all, of the nutrients essential to good health by selecting the right combination of foods.

We suggest you start with the 40 body-boosting, work-out super-foods listed here.

Alaskan King Crab

Bone Builder

High in protein and low in fat, the sweet flesh of the king crab is spiked with zinc—a whopping 7 milligrams per 3.5-ounce serving.

Zinc is an antioxidant, but more important, it helps support healthy bone mass and immune function.

Several studies have linked adequate zinc intake to increased immunity and decreased incidences of respiratory infection.

And you can reap all these benefits by swapping one of your weekly fish meals for a six-ounce serving of crab.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Dried Plums

Bone Builder

Also known as prunes, these dark super-food fruits are rich in copper and boron, both of which can help prevent osteoporosis.

They also contain a fiber called inulin, which, when broken down by intestinal bacteria, makes for a more acidic environment in the digestive tract.

That, in turn, facilitates calcium absorption.

Enjoy four or five a day to strengthen your bones and boost your energy.

Bok Choy

Bone Builder

This crunchy cruciferous vegetable is more than the filler that goes with shrimp in brown sauce. Bok choy is rich in bone-building calcium, as well as vitamins-A and C, folic acid, iron, beta-carotene, and potassium.

Potassium keeps your muscles and nerves in check while lowering your blood pressure, and research suggests that beta-carotene can reduce the risk of both lung and bladder cancers, as well as macular degeneration.

Shoot for a cup a day.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Bananas

Bone Builder

Athletes and performers are familiar with the calming effect of bananas, a result of the fruit's high concentration of tryptophan, a building block of serotonin.

But their real benefit comes from potassium, an electrolyte that helps prevent the loss of calcium from the body.

Bananas also bolster the nervous system, boost immune function, and help the body metabolize protein.

One banana packs a day's worth of potassium, and its carbohydrate content speeds recovery after strenuous exercise.

Kiwis

Bone Builder

Like bananas, this fuzzy fruit is high in bone-protecting potassium.

They're also rich in vitamin-C and lutein, a carotenoid that can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

I try to eat at least one or two a week after exercising.

Freeze them for a refreshing energy kick, but don't peel the skin: It's edible and packed with nutrients.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Broccoli

Bone Builder

One cup of broccoli contains a hearty dose of calcium, as well as manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

And that's in addition to its high concentration of vitamins, including A, C, and K, and the phytonutrient sulforaphane, which studies at Johns Hopkins University suggest has powerful anticancer properties.

One cup a day will do the trick.

Try cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, or cabbage for variation, as all possess many of the same nutritional qualities.

Broccoli may also help reduce excess estrogen levels in the body, thanks to its indole 3-carbinol content.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Spinach

Bone Builder

A renowned muscle builder, spinach is also rich in vitamin-K, which has been shown to bolster bone-mineral density (thus protecting against osteoporosis) and reduce fracture rates.

Spinach is also high in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and even selenium, which may help protect the liver and ward off Alzheimer's.

One more reason to add it to your diet: A study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that the carotenoid neoxanthin in spinach can kill prostate cancer cells, while the beta-carotene fights colon cancer.

Eat one cup of cooked spinach, or two cups raw, four times a week.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Leeks

Bone Builder

These scallionlike cousins of garlic and onions are packed with bone-bolstering thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium.

Leeks are also rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that studies have shown to lower levels of the artery-damaging amino acid homocystein in the blood.

What's more, Leeks can support sexual functioning and reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Chop the green part of a medium leek into thin ribbons and add it to soups, sautés, and salads as often as possible.

Oysters

Bone Builder

Shellfish, in general, are an excellent source of zinc, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, potassium, and selenium.

But the creamy flesh of oysters stands apart for its ability to elevate testosterone levels and protect against prostate cancer.

They aren't a food most people will eat regularly, but getting five into your diet twice a week will make your weekends more fun.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Artichokes

Bone Builder

Lauded for centuries as an aphrodisiac, this fiber-rich plant contains more bone-building magnesium and potassium than any other vegetable.

Its leaves are also rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, antioxidants that can cut the risk of stroke, and vitamin-C, which helps maintain the immune system.

Eat them as often as you can.

Ripe ones feel heavy for their size and squeak when squeezed.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Tea/Green Tea

Immunity Booster

Studies show that green tea, infused with the antioxidant EGCG, reduces the risk of most types of cancer.

The phytonutrients in tea also support the growth of intestinal bacteria.

Specifically, they inhibit the growth of bad bacteria—E. coli, Clostridium, Salmonella, and leave the beneficial bacteria untouched.

Why is this important?

Because up to 70 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract.

Four cups a day will keep it functioning at its peak.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Chili Peppers

Immunity Booster

Chilis stimulate the metabolism, act as a natural blood thinner, and help release endorphins.

Plus, they're a great way to add flavor to food without increasing fat or calorie content.

Chilis are also rich in beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin-A in the blood and fights infections, as well as capsaicin, which inhibits neuropeptides (chemicals that cause inflammation).

A recent study in the journal Cancer Research found that hot peppers even have anti-prostate-cancer properties.

All this from half a chili pepper (or one tablespoon of chili flakes) every day.

Ginger

Immunity Booster

Contrary to popular belief, ginger, a piquant addition to so many Asian dishes, isn't a root, it's a stem, which means it contains living compounds that improve your health.

Chief among them is gingerol, a cancer suppressor that studies have shown to be particularly effective against that of the colon.

Chop ginger or grind it fresh and add it to soy-marinated fish or chicken as often as you can.

The more you can handle, the better.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Blueberries

Immunity Booster

This potent little fruit can help prevent a range of diseases from cancer to heart disease.

One serving (3.5 ounces) contains more antioxidants than any other fruit.

Drizzle with lemon juice and mix with strawberries for a disease-fighting supersnack.

Cinnamon

Immunity Booster

Known for making desserts sweet and Indian food complex, cinnamon is rich in antioxidants that inhibit blood clotting and bacterial growth (including the bad-breath variety).

Studies also suggest that it may help stabilize blood sugar, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

What's more, it may help reduce bad cholesterol.

Try half a teaspoon a day in yogurt or oatmeal."

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Sweet Potatoes

Immunity Booster

Often confused with yams, this tuber is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

In addition to countering the effects of secondhand smoke and preventing diabetes, sweet potatoes contain glutathione, an antioxidant that can enhance nutrient metabolism and immune-system health, as well as protect against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, HIV, cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

One sweet potato a day is a great alternative to the traditional variety.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Tomatoes

Immunity Booster

Their lycopene content can help protect against degenerative diseases.

"Cooked tomatoes and tomato paste work best," he says.

Shoot for half a tomato, or 12 to 20 ounces of tomato juice, a day.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Figs

Immunity Booster

Packed with potassium, manganese, and antioxidants, this fruit also helps support proper pH levels in the body, making it more difficult for pathogens to invade.

Plus, the fiber in figs can lower insulin and blood-sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Select figs with dark skins (they contain more nutrients) and eat them alone or add them to trail mix.

Fig newtons are also a quick and easy way to boost the immune system.

Aim for four figs per week.

Mushrooms

Immunity Booster

Delicious when added to brown rice or quinoa, mushrooms are rich in the antioxidant ergothioneine, which protects cells from abnormal growth and replication.

In short, they reduce the risk of cancerand we recommend half a cup once or twice a week.

Cooking them in red wine, which contains the antioxidant resveratrol, magnifies their immunity-boosting power.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Wild Salmon

Muscle Enhancer

High in inflammation-fighting omega-3s, wild red or sockeye salmon (canned or fillet) is an excellent low-mercury alternative to canned solid tuna, which can be high in the toxic metal.

Defrosting a frozen fillet for dinner makes a great substitute for steak,or pan sear a fresh fillet with olive oil and kosher salt.

Recent NFL probes suggest that many teams, including the Cincimatti Bengals and the New York Giants, serve it to players to lock in strength gains and fuel performance.

But while pro athletes might eat 16 ounces at once, you're better off with three or four six-ounce servings a week.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Pineapples

Inflammation Fighter

With its potent mix of vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes (in particular, bromelain), pineapple is an all-body anti-inflammation cocktail.

It also protects against colon cancer, arthritis, and macular degeneration.

If only the "colada" part of the equation were as healthy.

Have half a cup, two or three times a week.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Olive Oil

Inflammation Fighter

The extra-virgin variety is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats.

It's fatty acids and polyphenols reduce inflammation in cells and joints.

A study in the journal Nature found that it's as effective as Advil at reducing inflammation.

Have two tablespoons a day.

Bing Cherries

Inflammation Fighter

Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that eating up to 45 bing cherries a day can lower the risk of tendinitis, bursitis, arthritis, and gout, says Bowerman. Studies also suggest that they reduce the risk of chronic diseases and metabolic syndrome. "They taste great on yogurt or cereal," says Bowerman.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Dark Chocolate

Inflammation Fighter

The flavonoids in dark chocolate inhibit platelet clumping, which reduces the risk for stroke, heart attack, and embolisms.

It's high in calories, so limit yourself each day to a half bar with at least 70 percent cacao.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Turmeric

Inflammation Fighter

Curcumin, the polyphenol that gives the spice its tang and yellow hue, has antitumor, antiarthritis, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that it also inhibits the growth of plaques associated with Alzheimer's.

Sprinkle half a tablespoon on fish or chicken to add color and flavor.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Greek-Style Yogurt

Muscle Enhancer

All yogurt provides muscle-friendly protein as well as probiotics that keep your digestive tract healthy and your immune system in top form.

But the Greek variety is thicker than regular yogurt, so it has more protein, and it's sweeter and heartier.

It's man-style yogurt, with a velvety texture.

Mix eight ounces with fruit for breakfast, or spread it on flatbread and top with chicken and onions.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Pomegranates

Immunity Booster

The juice from the biblical fruit of many seeds can reduce your risk of most cancers, thanks to polyphenols called ellagitannins, which give the fruit it's color.

In fact, a recent study at UCLA found that pomegranate juice slows the growth of prostate cancer cells by a factor of six.

Drink a cup a day.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Quinoa

Muscle Enhancer

Move over white rice and make room for this South American grain.

Although technically a seed, this protein source contains a complete set of branch chain and essential amino acids, making it a tissue and muscle-building powerhouse.

Its nutritional composition is better than most grains, so try to have one cup a week, alternating it with other healthy starches such as sweet potatoes and brown rice.

It's a great breakfast cereal, especially when flavored with cinnamon.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Grass-Fed Beef

Muscle Enhancer

Nothing beats pure protein when it comes to building muscle.

The problem with most store-bought beef, however, is that the majority of cattle are grain fed, which gives their meat a relatively high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

That, in turn, contributes to inflammation.

The fatty acids in grass-fed beef on the other hand, are skewed toward the omega-3 variety.

Such beef also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which studies have shown help reduce belly fat and build lean muscle.

Shoot for two, six to eight ounce, lean cuts [e.g., flank or tenderloin] a week.

But don't grill it.

Charring is carcinogenic.

Roast or pan sear.

Flavor it with jam and spread it on a cracker, or put half a cup in a blender with skim milk and fruit for a postworkout cheesecake-flavored smoothie.

It also tastes great on its own with olive oil.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Tofu

Muscle Enhancer

Made from soybeans, tofu was once the bastion of vegetarians.

But the plant protein in these pressed bean curds, available firm or soft, and delicious when marinated and tossed into salads—provides a full complement of amino acids, as well as isoflavone, which helps muscles recover from exercise.

A serving is four ounces.

Eat one to three servings a week.

Lentils

Muscle Enhancer

These flat beans don't just make delicious soups.

They're packed with protein, not to mention B vitamins and zinc, which are important for good sexual health.

Eat half a cup twice a week, cooking them for about 30 minutes (until they start to break apart) to create a satisfying mashed-potato-like texture.

A single serving will help you cover all of your nutritional bases.

Work-Out ~ Super-Foods

Eggs

Muscle Enhancer

The old school of thought was that you should eat egg whites rather than whole eggs in order to get the protein without the added cholesterol.

But recent studies have proved that the fat in the yolk is important to keep you satiated, and the benefits of the minerals and nutrients in the yolk outweigh its cholesterol effect.

Eggs deliver the most nutrients for the fewest calories and provide the most satiety per calorie consumed.

Plus, eggs contain choline, a B vitamin that studies have linked to improved brain function.

Eat three or four servings a week for breakfast or as a protein alternative at other meals.

Quorn

Muscle Enhancer

A little-known protein source, Quorn is a great substitute if you're looking to add variety to your diet with non-animal protein.

It's composed of a compound similar to mushroom protein: mycoprotein.

As such, it's top-quality protein without unhealthy animal fat.

If you're a vegetarian, this should be at the top of your list.

Quorn is also lower in calories than chicken and turkey, and you can buy it cubed or ground, making it an ideal substitute for ground beef.

Find it at your local specialty market, and shoot for six ounces a day if you're tired of soy.

Chocolate Milk

Muscle Enhancer

Believe it or not, the sweet brown milk you loved as a kid is actually good for you.

Chocolate milk is one of my favorite post-exercise recovery drinks because it contains whey protein, which helps muscles recover and repair.

Plus, it tastes great while boosting calcium and vitamin-D, which research shows is important for preserving cartilage and joint health.

Indeed, a 2006 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that it is as good as or better than Gatorade for replacing glucose in fatigued muscles.

Drinking one large glass after you work out will boost muscle growth and speed recovery.

Chocolate milk, one of the new new super-foods!

Nonfat Ricotta

Muscle Enhancer

Men don't eat the 16 ounces of protein they need every day, and this is a great substitute if they don't like cottage cheese.

Made from whey, this soft cheese is rich in amino acids, which speed muscle recovery after a workout.

Believe it or not, the sweet brown milk you loved as a kid is actually good for you.

Chocolate milk is one of my favorite post-exercise recovery drinks because it contains whey protein, which helps muscles recover and repair.

Plus, it tastes great while boosting calcium and vitamin-D, which research shows is important for preserving cartilage and joint health.

Indeed, a 2006 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that it is as good as or better than Gatorade for replacing glucose in fatigued muscles.

Drinking one large glass after you work out will boost muscle growth and speed recovery.

Wild Fatty Fish

Inflammation Fighter

Mackerel and other wild fatty fish contain a hearty dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart, cells, joints, and brain.

Stay away from farmed varieties.

They contain undesirable levels of omega-6 fatty acids.

The DHA and EPA in the oil of these fish also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Shoot for four six-ounce servings a week.

We like ours grilled with olive oil, lemon, and sea salt.

Flaxseed

Inflammation Fighter

Rich in protein and fiber, these seeds taste great on cereal and yogurt.

Their oil also comes in pill or liquid form, and is high in alpha linolenic omega-3s, which puts them next to wild fish on the list of heart-healthy fare.

They're a great brain food too.

Shoot for a tablespoon of ground flaxseed a day.

Almonds

Inflammation Fighter

These energy-rich snacks lower bad cholesterol, thanks to plant sterols, and benefit diabetics by lowering blood sugar.

They're also rich in amino acids, which bolster testosterone levels and muscle growth.

Eat a third of a cup a day with the skins on.

The skin is full of antioxidants.

Apples

Inflammation Fighter

An apple a day reduces swelling of all kinds, thanks to quercetin, a flavonoid also found in the skin of red onions.

Quercetin reduces the risk of allergies, heart attack, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and prostate and lung cancers.

If given the choice, opt for Red Delicious.

They contain the most inflammation-fighting antioxidants.

Whole Grains

Inflammation Fighter

Whole grains—oatmeal, wheat flour, barley, brown rice—are high in fiber, which calms inflamed tissues while keeping the heart strong and the colon healthy.

Not all breads and crackers advertised as "whole grain" are the real deal.

Read the labels.

Those that aren't whole grain can be high in fat, which increases inflammation.

Try for two slices of whole-grain bread a day.

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