We’re sick of hearing about kale — enough already. There are so many other powerful foods loaded with nutrients and health benefits just waiting for their five minutes of fame.
After chatting with Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietitian and the host of The Urban Vegetarian (airs every Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET), we found out which nutritious foods deserve some extra attention. Spoiler alert: Kale, turmeric and Greek yogurt didn’t make the list.
“Top of my list is the most traditional and unsexy food ever: beans,” Nielsen said. “They are the healthiest food by far that most people aren’t eating. They’re really high in fibre. They help tone the gut and improve its function, feed beneficial bacteria that help with inflammation [and] help you feel more energized. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and full of minerals.”
Sure, they might make you a bit gassy, but at the end of the day, they’re full of great benefits — not to mention they’re super cheap to buy.
“I think we’re going to start talking way more about seaweed and sea vegetables in general. They’re very mineral rich, [high in antioxidants] and research is just getting started on it,” Nielsen explained.
This is one food we’ll have no problem adding to our diet (sushi, anyone?).
You know what they already say: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
But according to Nielsen, apples deserve so much more credit — after all, most people don’t even know why they’re considered to be so healthy for you (other than because they’re fruit).
“They’re so affordable, so widely available all year round and they’re high in a special fibre that’s good for digestion. It’s also great for inflammation,” Nielsen told us. So if you’re having stomach issues, eating an apple after a meal is a great way to prevent stomach pain.
Although moringa (a miraculous plant grown in India, Thailand, the Philippines, Africa, and Taiwan) is gradually becoming more well-known to the public, a lot of people, especially in North America, know very little about it.
“I almost didn’t believe the nutritional benefits of moringa until I saw it myself. It’s super high in iron, with a very grassy flavour.” Nielsen said. “[A few spoonfuls] of moringa thrown into a smoothie has all the iron you need for an entire day.”
Great for anyone who has an iron deficiency.
“The reason why fermented foods are so important is because our bodies are often lacking in beneficial bacteria and the way you get it is through fermented food. And cabbage is so important because it has an amino acid that helps repair the gut,” explained Nielsen.
“The whole superfood trend is so often typified by foods that are pricey, but if you have cabbage and if you have salt, you can make it on your counter in a few days,” she said. “Clean a fermenting jar very well, wash the cabbage, scrub it well, chop it up and add salt. You need a ton of salt. Salt [prevents] the growth of harmful microbes that might make you sick.”
So while fermented cabbage might not be your first choice in side dish, your body will thank you later if you incorporate it into your diet.
Tune into The Urban Vegetarian every Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET to see Nielsen make incredible, healthy recipes.