THIS MORNING: Foods to eat for better health

July 8, 2008 8:03:04 AM PDT
There are a number of super healthy foods you should be eating but probably aren't. Instead, you play it safe and eat what you know you like. But it's time to expand your food repertoire!Inside your refrigerator, it's probably the same old same old. And that means you're probably eating a lot of the same old things.

"Everyone reaches for what's easy," Frances Largeman-Roth said.

Largeman-Roth is the food and nutrition editor for "Health Magazine." She says everyone could benefit from expanding the foods they eat.

"Try to experiment with one new food a week...just try to dabble. The more variety we have in our diet, the nutrients we have,"

Start with buying the forgotten fruit, prunes. Chop them up and add to cereal. Prunes are rich in antioxidants.

So too is swiss chard, hardly a menu star. But the vegetable can be cooked up in soup or with pasta. And eat more beets. They're packed with folic acid. Roast then until they are tender, then slice and serve. Also, substitute pasta with the whole grain quinoa. It has lots of protein.

"Cooks up very quickly, looks like couscous and you can make a salad out of it,"

And cinammon isn't just for baking. The spicy weapon against high cholesterol should be eaten on a regular basis.

"You need a teaspoon of it, at least for the benefit. You can sprinkle it over yogurt, you can sprinkle it over rice pudding,"

Then there's the superstar of spices, tumeric. Whip up a low-fat cream cheese dip and sprinkle in the spice, believed to have anti-inflammatory and cancer -fighting properties. Add pumpkin seeds to your midday snack. They are rich in magnesium, and that's good for your blood pressure.

And finally, quench your thirst with the red tea, rooibos. It has more antioxidents than green tea and is caffeine free.

Fermented foods like sauerkraut are also good. Just make sure you put it on a chicken dog.

For more information on super foods you should be eating, visit

Here is a more detailed list of the foods mentioned in this story:

Brussels sprouts: High in cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
How to eat: When you roast them they become sweet and lose the cabbagey flavor. Roast and toss with pasta.

Rooibus: This South African red tea is super rich in antioxidants.
How to eat/drink: Brew and serve over ice. Instead of adding sugar, add a splash of apple juice to sweeten.

Quinoa: It's much richer in protein than most grains. It's also high in fiber and antioxidants.
How to eat: Quinoa cooks up quickly and is great in summer salads with diced tomatoes, cucumbers and a sprinkle of feta and freshly chopped herbs.

Fermented foods: Things like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha are loaded with good bacteria that help with digestion and can also boost your immune system.
How to eat: Add kraut to sandwiches and burgers. Make smoothies and frozen pops with kefir.

Swiss Chard: One cup of cooked chard contains only 35 calories, 3 grams of protein, nearly 4 grams of fiber, and 4 milligrams of iron. In addition, you get 10 percent of the Daily Value for calcium, 38 percent of the Daily Value for magnesium, and a whopping 716 percent for vitamin K-all in the same tasty cup. Swiss chard has plenty of potassium, vitamins C and E, and folate, too. And it's loaded with lutein, which helps protect your eyes.
How to eat: Saute and serve with pasta or chop up and add to soup.

Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar, because cinnamon slows the rate at which food passed from the stomach to the intestines, where it's absorbed. Need at least a teaspoon for the benefit. How to eat: Sprinkle over yogurt and pudding and add to baked goods.

Dried plums/aka prunes: This often overlooked fruits are so rich with antioxidants, they actually beat blueberries on the ORAC scale, which tests for antioxidant capacity. How to eat: Chop them up and mix them with nuts for an easy, health trail mix.

Pumpkin seeds: Rich in iron and magnesium, which helps keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. How to use: Top salads with the seeds, sprinkle over oatmeal, and eat as a snack.

Turmeric: Has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce joint damage associated with arthritis. How to use: Add to soups, curries, and dips.

Beets: Rich in folate, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. Low in calories and rich in the antioxidant beta carotene.
How to use: Roast and slice and add to salads. Grate raw and mix in raisins for an easy salad.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang
WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King, Lakisha Bostick