Healthful kitchen must-haves
By Denise DiFulco
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Some foods are simply better than others. So we put this question to three local nutrition experts: If you could pick just a handful of ingredients to incorporate into your clients’ diets, what would they be? Here are items that can have a long-term effect on health and well-being, according to North Potomac nutritionist Kelly Dorfman; Dana Laake, owner of Dana Laake Nutrition in Kensington; and D.C. health counselor Casey Seidenberg:
BLUEBERRIES Fresh or frozen, blueberries have one of the highest concentrations among fruits of antioxidants and phytochemicals (which fight disease and inflammation). They also tend to rank low in pesticide contamination. They are naturally sweet (unlike cranberries), yet they do not raise blood sugar significantly.
BROCCOLI AND OTHER DARK GREENS It has been proved again and again that Mom was right about eating your broccoli (and cauliflower and Brussels sprouts). Researchers continue to uncover the health benefits of one phytochemical in particular, sulforaphane, that is found in these vegetables, as well as in bok choy, kale, collard greens and watercress.
CACAO You’ll often see dark chocolate turn up on “superfood” lists because it contains blood-pressure-lowering plant phenols and loads of antioxidants. Cacao, or raw chocolate, is even better because it lacks sugar and other additives. Though bitter, the whole beans or nibs can be eaten plain. In its powder form, cacao can be mixed into a smoothie or pancake batter, making it taste much like the guilty pleasure we all know and love.
QUINOA Though considered a grain, quinoa is a seed that has the same versatility as rice or barley but with even greater nutritional value and no gluten. It’s a complete protein, meaning that it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, which come only from diet. It also has fiber and such key nutrients as phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
SARDINES These, and other small fish, are becoming increasingly popular, and rightly so because of their lower concentrations of contaminants such as mercury. Most people are familiar with the canned variety, but sardines also are available fresh. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which maintain heart health, and they’re a significant source of calcium.
Denise DiFulco is a freelance writer.