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You Need These 10 Superfoods in Your Fridge


As busy college students, finding the time for proper nutrition can seem overwhelming. The health food trends that circulate magazines, blogs and even medical settings are constantly changing, and it’s hard to know what kind of diet will keep you nourished and satisfied without leaving you broke or chained to the kitchen. However, when you break food down to the simplest, most nutrient-dense ingredients, healthy eating can finally become an easy task no matter how much school, work or everyday life gets in the way.

One of the easiest ways to gain the biggest health punch with the least amount of effort is to consistently incorporate “superfoods” into your diet. “A ‘superfood’ is a marketing term used to label a food that is packed with vitamins and minerals,” says Jennifer Calo, a dietitian with Compass Nutrition. Faye Mitchell, a dietitian and editor-in-chief of the online nutrition guide, Foodie on Campus, adds that superfoods achieve their label by “improving your health and lowering your risk of disease.” Stocking up on these ingredients will ensure that a healthy meal or snack is always within reach, all the while alleviating chaotic, puzzled trips to the grocery store We’ve gathered the ten superfoods every college girl should try to stock up on and an explanation of exactly why they are just so “super.”

1. Avocadoes

There are more reasons than ever to eat your beloved avocado toast. “Avocados are a wonderful source of monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, lutein and fiber,” says Calo. While avocado is often lauded for the healthy fat that lends its buttery texture, you may not know that those oils actually help with vitamin absorption. Calo notes that these fat soluble vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K. Use avocado in place of oils, butters or fatty spreads, like mayonnaise, to instantly make your diet more superfood accessible.

2. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an essential superfood to keep on hand, especially since they are cheap, easy to make and taste far more delicious than a plain potato. Mitchell explains that sweet potatoes are high in fiber to help keep you full and keep blood sugar levels in check. She attests to their status as a superfood since “they can decrease chances of diabetes and increase memory.” Not to mention, they could lower your risk for cancer. “Rinse them, pierce them with a fork, microwave on high for eight to 10 minutes and top with Greek yogurt,” suggests Mitchell.

3. Berries

Berries in general provide loads of nutritional value, but certain varieties in particular earn their superfood title. Calo says raspberries are “the best choice for a fruit when trying to lose weight,” given their eight grams of fiber and only 60 calories with each serving. Vitamins and antioxidants are also beneficial products of berries. Blueberries in particular “contain the antioxidant anthocyanins, which decreases inflammation in the body and can even prevent arthritis,” says Calo. Top some yogurt with a handful of juicy berries, or if you're feeling adventurous, try some exotic, antioxidant-packed acai berries in your very own acai smoothie bowl.

4. Oats

While humble and in need of a little added pizazz, oats are nutrient powerhouses with high levels of fiber and protein. “Oats are whole grains and contain both insoluble and soluble fiber for healthy digestion,” says Mitchell. They will keep you full, protect your heart and help to prevent high blood pressure. Oats are also extremely versatile and can be incorporated into breakfast cereals with other superfoods (hello, blueberry oatmeal!) or baked into sweet treats for nutrition you won’t even detect. Mitchell also suggests buying unsweetened packets of instant oatmeal and adding your own natural sweetness to avoid the sugary, processed variations.

5. Spinach

Like all of its cousins in the leafy green family (we’re looking at you, kale), spinach has a great reputation among health critics. As one of the first so-called “superfoods” though, spinach deserves some special attention. Calo says that spinach is rich in potassium and magnesium, which can help reduce blood pressure, preserve bone mineral density and prevent kidney stones. In addition, one cup of spinach provides 60 percent of our required vitamin A, a nutrient Calo points out as essential for tissue growth. “Spinach is also a great source of iron,” she adds, “especially for vegetarians.” So toss it in a salad, wilt it over pasta or blend it up in a smoothie for an easy boost.

6. Salmon

Salmon is one protein that you may overlook when you take your weekly spin around the grocery store, but it’s definitely one to start including in your meal plan. “The American Heart Association recommends consumption of fatty fish two times a week for increased omega-3 fatty acids,” says Calo. Mitchell adds that salmon is a great source of protein and provides the omega-3s we need for heart health, brain health and focus. Perhaps a salmon dinner is in order before that next math exam! It’s an easy protein to cook and tastes delicious grilled or baked until flaky. Even if cooking salmon isn’t practical in your dorm set-up, Mitchell encourages you to order salmon when you treat yourself to a dinner out or when parents want to spoil you on their next visit!

7. Cacao

If you have a chocolate craving you just can’t shake, you may be thrilled to find out that you can satisfy your desire while still getting major nutrition. Cacao is simply the unprocessed version of cocoa, and while cocoa offers some of the same benefits, try using the superfood counterpart in its place. Cacao is a great source of the antioxidant flavonoids which Calo says, “can decrease production of LDL, ‘bad cholesterol’.” She also points out that those flavonoids can also aid in cancer prevention and in decreasing inflammation in the body.

8. Seeds

Like nuts, seeds offer a big nutrition punch in even small amounts. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are some of the varieties you might stock for uses ranging from tasty snacks, creamy breakfast puddings or crunchy salad toppings. Calo approves of their healthy fat content and notes that “we need about 30 percent of our daily calories from healthy fats.” Each kind of seed offers its own unique “superpower,” so experiment with a variety for a diet abundant in nutrients. “Chia seeds are a complete protein,” says Mitchell, which means that they contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs. She also adds that nearly all seed varieties reduce inflammation. Seeds are great to include in homemade granola and trail mix or can simply be sprinkled on top of oatmeal or yogurt for added crunch.

9. Yogurt

You have probably already heard about the magical power of yogurt, but there really is sound evidence behind the health craze. It “improves digestion because it contains probiotics, which boost our immune system,” says Calo. “We know that a healthy gut helps manage food cravings. It is also the perfect snack due to a combination of protein and carbohydrates.” Don’t go running to the nearest fro-yo store just yet though. Calo points out that many yogurt products are filled with sugar, and some can be highly processed. “I would only recommend plain Greek yogurt, such as Fage total, which contains 20 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar,” she says. You can then add your own, natural sweetness with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey to satisfy a sugar craving.

10. Nuts

Mitchell praises all types of nuts as being the perfect food for busy college students. They are filled with healthy fat and protein, which she says is one nutrient young adults are often lacking in their diet. Nuts should be eaten in small portions, meaning that they are cost effective and provide good nutrition density for every serving. “Stock up on nut butters with no added sugars or salt,” Mitchell suggests. Then you can always have a snack on hand, like apple and peanut butter, almond butter toast or even a protein rich smoothie that includes a dollop of your favorite nut butter.

When you’re looking to stock up on nutritious foods to keep you healthy and strong through the school year, give special attention to these mighty superfoods. With just a couple added ingredients, you can take your diet from minimal to mighty.  

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