Grow Your Palate, Not Your Waist with Functional Foods
Brianna Crane, Graduate Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by: Celina Paras MSc, RDN, LD
Functional foods are foods that can give added health benefits along with being nutrient-rich. Today, a large portion of health research is focused on nutrients in food that can help fight chronic illness. Here are some foods that you may already have in your home that can protect you against certain diseases.
Along with being high in protein, oats have soluble fiber. Recent research shows that soluble fiber can help lower total and bad cholesterol in the body if consumed on a normal basis. This is important because it can help combat your risk of heart disease. Try to eat oats without added sugar and sweeten with fruit. You can even make overnight oats so you are ready to go with a nutrient-rich breakfast in the morning! Other foods high in soluble fiber are beans, fruits with skins and flax/chia seeds.
Berries contain antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries can be a great addition to any meal. Add them to your morning cereal or oatmeal, top a tasty salad or add as a layer to your yogurt parfait. Worried about your berries going bad? Buy them frozen. They are less expensive, stay good for longer and have just the same amount of nutrients as fresh berries.
Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, and herring contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are an unsaturated fat that can help reduce inflammation in the body that can cause disease. Fish can be bought and frozen to be used later for up to two to three months. Try adding spices such as dried basil, dill weed, onion powder, and oregano to get the best taste out of your fish. Fish goes great roasted veggies and whole grains!
Food can tickle your taste buds and improve your health too. Look at your pantry, fridge, and freezer and see if you have any foods that can help lower your risk of developing certain diseases. If not, stock up!