The Top 15 Superfoods
As Recommended by Functional Medicine Doctor Will Cole
One common fruit that grows bountifully in the summer are peaches. This popular stone fruit offers many nutritional benefits such as vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as potassium, beta-carotene, and B vitamins. These nutrients can lead to improved skin and heart health, eye health, and can help prevent diabetes and cancer. Peaches can also help the body absorb iron, so adding this fruit to your diet during pregnancy can be beneficial for both mom and baby.
One of the best aspects of cucumbers is their high water content. While eating a cucumber doesn’t take the place of staying hydrated through drinking water, it is a great way to add a little more hydration to you – or your kids’ – day.
Cucumbers are also inflammation fighters that benefit your digestive, brain, and heart health. They contain antioxidants that fight off many diseases and provide about 10% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K per serving.
In season from early summer to late fall, raspberries offer a delicious sweet taste perfect for any time of day but have only 5 grams of net carbs per 100 gram serving. Raspberries contain large amounts of manganese, folic acid, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Eating a serving of this fruit can help eye health, prevent infections, regulate feminine health, and aid in weight loss.
While tea is shelf stable all year long, red raspberry leaf tea is made during peak freshness in the summer and is especially beneficial for menstrual cycles and pregnant and lactating women.
This small superfood is packed with a ton of nutrients and is known for its antioxidant properties. Blueberries also have high vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and folate content. Just one cup of blueberries can provide almost 15% of your dietary fiber needs. This nutrient dense berry is a great option to fight the effects of aging on the brain and inflammation in the body, as well as support heart and digestive health.
Like the berries mentioned above, blackberries also contain antioxidants and polyphenols that fight off and prevent cancer. Their folate content is also beneficial for pregnant women as it encourages healthy growth for the baby. A few other health benefits blackberries boast include maintaining healthy skin, strong bones, digestion, and immunity from the B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Strawberries are the longest in-season berry with them being freshest from late spring to late fall. This popular, red fruit is most commonly known to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, but the benefits definitely don’t stop there. Strawberries also help eye health, reduce constipation due to their fiber content, lower the risk of diabetes, and act as an anti-aging food because of the positive effect of skin, hair, and bone health. This fruit can act as a natural teeth whitener as well from the malic acid present. Potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamin C are among the many nutrients you’ll get from strawberries.
Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, is a fruit from the Cucurbitaceae family and is a secret superfood. One cup of this orange melon gives a whopping 108% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A and 98% of the recommended vitamin C. It also contains a good amount of potassium, folate, fiber, and has about 50 calories per cup.
The phytochemicals present give cantaloupe anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. The fiber and high water content help with digestion and detoxing the body.
Honeydew melon is a less popular fruit from the melon family that has a green inner flesh. Honeydew is the only melon that benefits from a drier climate rather than a humid one. Other than hydrating your body because it’s made of 90% water, the biggest benefit honeydew has is vitamin C. Just one cup of this fruit supplies about 50% of the daily recommended value which then benefits immunity, skin health, and prevents many diseases. Be aware of the sugar content as it is does have a higher level compared to other melons like cantaloupe and watermelon.
Yet another melon hits the summer list and this one may be the favorite of all. Watermelon is another fruit that is majorly comprised of water and can be a great option for especially hot summer days. As one cup of diced watermelon has less than 50 calories but supplies many vitamins and minerals – like vitamins A and C, potassium, and antioxidants – and can help with weight loss.
10. Summer Squash
This most likely doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but this is the season where summer squash flourish and thrive. This grouping includes zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan squash and more. Compared to winter squash, summer squash have less sugar, fewer carbs, and therefore a lower glycemic index score. While each squash has slightly different nutritional benefits, all contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and A.
Cherries are truly a summer superfood that can promote overall health. The biggest benefit they provide is decreasing both oxidative stress and inflammation. A few other ways they can improve health is helping with muscle soreness, blood pressure, arthritis, gout, and sleep.
Cherries have such a large impact on these health issues because of the antioxidants, fiber, carotenoids, melatonin, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory compounds they contain. While they are only in season for a few short weeks to months, be sure to take advantage of this delicious fruit while they are available!
Tomatoes act as a staple for many cultures and diets around the world because of the ease and quick growth of tomato plants in warm climates. A few of the nutrients that a tomato has include potassium, vitamins C and A, iron, magnesium, and fiber. Tomatoes can protect the heart, improve vision, and prevent gallstones and chronic diseases.
Tomatoes are a nightshade though, so they can cause inflammation in certain people. If you think they may be an irritant for you, check out this article all about nightshades.
13. Bell Peppers
Be aware that bell peppers are another nightshade that can irritate the gut lining. If you do tolerate them, bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. While many believe that oranges are the best produce to eat for vitamin C, red bell peppers actually contain over twice as much for the same 100 gram serving.
Bell peppers also contain a large amount of vitamin A and also add to the daily recommended value of Vitamin B6 and folate. While they are packed with nutrients, they are very low in calories and a great alternative to unhealthy snack foods due to their crunchy texture.
Shallots are a smaller type of onion and used often in ayurvedic medicine. They begin harvest in the beginning of summer and continue to be harvested until late fall. Like other Alliums, shallots can help in cases of heart disease and cancer and can also work to detox and toxins or chemicals from the body.
Peas are technically from the legume family but they offer many nutritional benefits. Eating a 100 gram serving provides potassium, fiber, vitamin B-6, 5 grams of protein, and vitamins A and C.
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Over the many years that I have been helping my clients lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, I find that the key has always been eating WHOLE FOODS. We are in a world full of GMO, heavily processed foods and many of us have a problem with dairy and/or gluten. Many of us have a problem with inflammation in our bodies, myself included.
Inflammation is a process by which the body's immune system malfunctions. The reason inflammation is so critical is that it has been found to be a player in almost every chronic disease.
Spring has just begun and this is a really great time to not only spring clean our house, but our bodies. The way we are going to do that is to go through our kitchen pantries and refrigerators and swap out foods that may cause inflammation. Out with the old, in with new, fresh ideas that can help control inflammation, bloating and just feeling blah!
1. Pasta < Vegetable noodles
Zucchini Noodles are my go to vegetable noodles. Arm yourself with a spiralizer, it makes a great alternative to pasta. Not only are the "Zoodles" gluten free, but are lower in carbs and sugar!
2. Rice < Cauliflower Rice
Although it’s gluten-free, it still has proteins that are similar to gluten as well as high in carbs. Steam cauliflower florets and then pulse them in a food processor for a rice-like shape and texture or you can conveniently find cauliflower rice in the grocery store.
3. Dairy Cheese < Nut Cheese
The protein in milk called casein can be inflammatory, Nut cheese looks (and tastes) like the real deal.
4. Hummus < Cauliflower hummus
Most people find that chickpeas (the main ingredient in hummus) can be extremely difficult to digest and cause bloating, cramping or gas
5. Mayonnaise < Mashed Avocado
My go to swap for tuna salad. Mix 1 can of tuna with a 1/4 of an avocado. Add in some ginger, garlic & onion powder. Try it on some almond flower rosemary crackers!
6. Yogurt < Coconut or Almond Milk Yogurt
If you want or need to avoid dairy, this swap is ideal for eating out of the tub, or a great swap in a recipe life Beef Stroganoff.
7. Potato Chips < Plantain Chips
If you have never tried these crispy treats, you have no idea what you are missing!
8. Breadcrumbs < Coconut Flakes
I like to use them on shrimp skewers, it gives that great crispy texture that breadcrumbs give without the guilt!
9. Soda < Flavored Carbonated Water
We all know that Soda regardless if it is Diet or Regular is not good for us. The sugars and artificial sweeteners wreck havoc on our digestive systems.
10. Chocolate < Carob
Some people have a difficult time eating chocolate. Carob is a great alternative and is nutrient dense and free of caffeine.
11. Butter < Ghee
Ghee a/k/a clarified butter does not have the inflammatory protein casein. It contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. Since it also has a high smoke point, ghee is safe to use for cooking at high temperatures.
12. Soy Sauce < Coconut Aminos
The majority of soy that is grown today is genetically modified, but Coconut Aminos is made with Coconut! It looks and tastes almost identical to soy sauce, so you’ll never miss a beat.
13. Mashed Potatoes < Turnips, Rutabaga or Cauliflower Mash
Most people are not aware that potatoes for some individuals cause inflammation in the gut. Turnips & Cauliflower have a similar consistency to mashed potatoes when they are whipped. Try adding some garlic and ghee and enjoy!
14. Whipped Cream < Coconut Whip
Grab a can of coconut milk, add some maple syrup or raw honey, whip and enjoy! I recently made the Carrot Cake dessert over the weekend and it was delicious!
In 2006 I was invited to compete in the North American Powerlifting Championships. The US vs. Canada, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Mexico and all the Caribbean Island Nations. My 1st International Meet. I would wear the prestigious Team USA Track Suit! The competition was going to be held in Dorado, Puerto Rico. I knew that this was an opportunity of a lifetime so I wanted to make the best of it. My best squat in a competition at the time was only 286 lbs, In an Inzer suit, knee wraps and belt oh, and of course Chuck Taylors. I knew I would need to break the 300 lb. barrier to win gold, so I reached out to a friend of mine, Mike Mastrean for some help. (who at the time squatted 903 lbs. in the 220 lb. weight class)
The program consisted of a LOT of VOLUME! So many sets of squats and deadlift variations. Volume that I was not accustomed to. I also realized that I just wasn't working hard enough and that was why I wasn't winning. Not because my competitors were on steroids, but because, I really wasn't pushing myself like I needed to!
Whether you are a Powerlifter, Bodybuilder, CrossFitter, Endurance or other Strength Athlete, your strength and conditioning regimen is what makes you different from the Average Joe training at the gym. Your Nutrition & Supplementation should also be different.
I've always been told "your back is amazing" I guess 18 years of Powerlifting will do that for you. But honestly, it's called work ethic. Taking the time to learn what exercises will build a specific body part. It is not just oh, it's back day, lets do everything lats! It's not simple. Your back is not just your "lats". Your back is comprised of many different muscles:
Making sure that you hit these muscles in your workout differentiates a true athlete from someone that just comes in and decides, I guess I'll do "Back" today. They have no understanding of how important it is to "Train" your back for your particular sport or for aesthetics.
I highly recommend to all my clients that they use the My Fitness Pal App. (www.myfitnesspal.com) It is free use and to download and you can use it from your computer, laptop, iPad or Smartphone. If you have an iPhone, all you have to do is scan the UPC Label on your food, and it adds it into your food log. It's a very simple way to keep track of everything that goes into your mouth!