1. Add Superfoods to Your Diet

Superfoods are natural foods that are nutritive powerhouses. They work to ensure your body gets what it needs to be healthy. Loaded with nutrients, superfoods can help you lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, stabilize your moods, and more importantly, boost your metabolism. According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, author of The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, a healthy diet incorporating a variety of the superfoods discussed in this chapter will help you maintain your weight, fight disease, and live longer. One thing these foods all have in common? “Every superfood is going to be a ‘real’ (unprocessed) food,” Somer points out. “You don’t find fortified potato chips in the superfood category.”

2. Eat Nutrient-Rich Vegetables

Everyone knows that vegetables are good for us, but some vegetables are healthier than others and can help metabolism. In fact, many vegetables will satisfy—or nearly satisfy—your daily requirements for several vitamins. From dark leafy greens rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium to the cruciferous vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, and water cress that have cancer-preventing antioxidants to nutrient-rich vegetables like carrots, potatoes, yams, and tomatoes, vegetables are always a good thing to snack on and include with each meal.

3. Love Those Omegas

Omega-3 fatty acids are great for promoting heart health because they protect against deadly arrhythmias by making the heart cells more stable and less prone to overexcitement. In one study, those who ate fish just once or twice a week were 40 percent less likely to die suddenly from a cardiac arrhythmia. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of a stroke, and they are excellent at maintaining good blood sugar levels. Studies have even suggested that they may play a factor in weight loss. Thus, it’s important to make sure they’re a staple of your healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in wild salmon, mackerel, herring, dried butternuts, black walnuts, soybeans, sardines, lake trout, Chinook salmon, cooked pinto beans, fortified eggs, flaxseed, and walnuts. These superfoods also have the added benefit of being high in monounsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol.

4. Eat Flax

Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, flax bolsters cell membranes and helps your body respond more efficiently to insulin, thereby improving glucose absorption, which in turn helps stabilize blood sugar levels. In other words, flax is one superfood you can easily incorporate in your diet and reap major metabolic benefits. You can buy flaxseed oil at most supermarkets or health food stores, or toss ground flaxseeds (if they aren’t ground, they don’t provide the same benefits) on your granola or oatmeal. Flax is also readily available in many types of bread; just check the ingredients!

5. Eat a Nut

Nuts are high in fat, but they contain minerals, fiber, and nice amounts of protein. All nuts and seeds are small powerhouses. They are so powerful, in fact, that just having a serving of nuts five times a week can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease. However, nuts are high in calories and should be eaten in moderation; think of a serving as a tablespoon or two. Look for nuts that are unsalted; it’s not important whether they are roasted or unroasted. Nuts are great sprinkled on foods high in vitamin C, such as fruit and vegetables, because the vitamin C increases the body’s absorption of the iron in nuts.

6. Eat Walnuts in Particular

The walnut is the only nut that provides significant amounts of alphalinolenic acid, one of the three omega-3 fatty acids. Because your body cannot produce this acid, it needs to be provided daily from other sources. Seven walnuts can fulfill your daily need for these essential fatty acids. Omega-3s are brain food. Their high amounts of unsaturated fat help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol in your blood and increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol. By eating a handful of walnuts a day, you can also reduce your risk for heart disease.

7. Munch on Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, nestle in the core of the pumpkin encased in a white-yellow husk. This superseed contains a number of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, and phosphorus, along with proteins, monounsaturated fat, and the omega fatty acids 3 and 6—all of which will help boost your metabolism. Today the superpowers of pumpkin seeds have been found to help prevent prostate cancer in men, protect against heart disease, and have anti-inflammatory benefits.

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