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Focus on Functional Foods

All food provides energy to our bodies, but some are much higher in nutrition than others. These are known as “functional foods.” I know what you must be thinking, “doesn’t all food provide nutrition?” The answer is yes and no. 

The physiological components of healthy foods work to increase immune function, blood sugar regulation, aid in digestion, and improve cardiovascular potential.

Thanks to the widespread awareness of health and nutrition, over the past century, food scientists and producers have found ways to fortify and enrich foods to improve their health benefits.

Popular examples of enhanced functional foods include:

  • Orange juice fortified with calcium
  • Probiotic yogurts
  • Vitamin D enriched milk
  • Whole grains that are high in fiber and folate
  • Omega-rich eggs

Eating whole foods (especially dark leafy greens, deep orange, red or purple produce) and using natural herbs or spices are also inherently “functional” in promoting optimal health status.

When is the last time you used one or more of the functional foods in the table below?

Fruits Vegetables Dairy Grains Meats/Beans/Nuts Fats Herbs/Spices
Blueberries Spinach Milk Bread Tuna Avocado Basil
Citrus Fruit Broccoli Cheese Flaxseed Almonds Olive Oil Ginger
Cranberries Garlic Yogurt Oatmeal Walnuts Dark Chocolate Fennel
Grapes Tomatoes Quinoa Lentils Cinnamon

You can find plenty of these functional foods on the shelves of grocery stores. Take advantage and get the most nutrition from your meals!

Ginger-Infused Wild Rice

 

Makes: 6 Servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked whole grain, wild rice
  • 2 tablespoons ginger root, grated
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • ½ tablespoon light butter
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine two cups of water, wild rice, butter, ginger and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  2. Cook over low heat for 40 minutes (or until water is absorbed), stirring occasionally.
  3. Add fresh basil and stir.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 35 Calories, <1 g Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 408 mg Sodium, 7 g Carbohydrate, <1 g Fiber, 1 g Protein

Source: Mealsmatter.org

Article originally published on the Pathmark Wellness Blog

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