Keeping it Simple

I’m sure you’ve seen nutrition articles out there, all touting a new, special “superfood”– usually one that’s expensive, difficult to find, or hard to prepare. While these foods aren’t inherently bad, they’re not necessarily better for you either. Many of the exotic foods have more familiar alternatives with similar nutritional content.

For example:

Açai: Açai is a small berry grown in the Brazilian Amazon, and is packed full of anthocyanidins (an antioxidant), fiber, phytoflavinoids, potassium and Vitamin C. Fresh açai berries aren’t usually available in the United States, so they tend to be sold as powders, supplements, or juice at inflated prices. As an alternative, blueberries are widely available, much cheaper, and have a similar flavor and consistency– as well as similar levels of anthocyanidins, fiber, and less sugar than açai berries. Pomegranates are another alternative with similar benefits, and even more Vitamins K and C, as well as less sugar than açai berries.

Kale: Kale is a dark leafy-green most closely related to collard greens and brussel sprouts. Its abundant in Vitamins K, A, and C, calcium. While kale is relatively inexpensive and widely available at most grocery stores, many find it to have an acquired taste due to the slight bitterness. If you aren’t a fan, consider spinach–  a sweet, very common, salad green. Spinach is very rich in many of the same nutrients as kale, with even more Vitamin B6 and folate.

Chia seeds: Chia seeds are used for their high fiber and protein content, while supplying a low number of calories. This is example of a food that doesn’t have one single alternative, but is easy to fill those same benefits with a well-balanced diet . While it’s difficult to find a food that matches the 151% of your daily value of fiber offered by chia seeds, wheat bran comes close with 99% of your daily value, at a reduced price. Turkey, beef, pork, fish, and cheeses are good sources of protein, while black, white, navy, kidney, and lima beans are all good non-meat sources of both fiber and protein.

Eating a well-rounded diet containing all of the food groups and the full rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps to ensure that you obtain adequate amounts of all of these nutrients, without having to go out in search of specific foods. Remember, the best “diet” is one that you stick to for life! Simplifying your food choices and sticking to the basics can help your healthy eating patterns become more routine, rather than a chore.