Recently, we turned our clocks back an hour, gained a quicker nightfall, and bundled up as the winter cold started to kick in. It’s especially common to feel tired and in need of an energy boost around this time of year. Luckily, there are plant-based superfoods that will perk you up, keep you from getting ill, and help wave the winter blues goodbye.
Superfoods offer a larger amount of nutrition than we’d get with other foods, and they’re heralded as healthy, diet-friendly, and good-for-you. These foods contain many different types of nutrients and can have varying, positive effects on the body. Here are five superfoods you should be eating for increased energy.
Considered by some to be one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world, acai has gotten a lot of hype in the health and weight loss industries over the past couple of years. Spelled like Açaí and pronounced like (ah-sigh-ee), this berry is harvested in the Brazilian forests. Açaí is loved so much for its high levels of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Those antioxidants destroy harmful free radicals that can make you sick, especially during the winter when we’re vulnerable to lacking energy and flu-like symptoms.
There are many types of beans that are considered a superfood because they are full of fiber, low in cholesterol, and are low fat. Including beans and legumes in your daily diet is a good way to reach toward your RDA amount of protein. In particular, edamame is a soybean, and it has been in the Asian diet for thousands of years. One cup of prepared, frozen edamame contains 17 grams of protein and 16 grams of carbohydrates. Try this recipe for kale-edamame hummus. Make sure you pick Organic/Non-GMO soybeans!
Cooked quinoa contains 39 grams of carbohydrates per cup, making it a fantastic energy booster. This ancient grain is also high in protein (8 grams per cup), fiber (5 grams per cup), and is a good source of iron. Plus, quinoa contains manganese, which helps your body synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol. Like rice, you cook quinoa by boiling on the stove, and it can be eaten with any meal. For breakfast, try eating quinoa like oatmeal with some fruit, almond milk, and nuts. For lunch and dinner, you can make salads with cold quinoa sprinkled on top or eat a hot quinoa bowl with sautéed vegetables.
4. Sweet potatoes
It’s now harvest time for nutrient-rich sweet potatoes, so eat them during more meals than just Thanksgiving dinner! Sweet potatoes contain about 41 grams of carbs (though sizes can vary), as well as calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E. The benefits don’t stop there. These awesome orange potatoes are so much better for you than white baking potatoes, because sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index number and are the best source of beta carotene out of all produce (sorry, carrots.) The popular way of eating sweet potatoes could pack on the pounds though, so hold the brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows. You may be surprised at just how sweet a sweet potato can be without those unhealthy additions. Try this recipe for sweet potato fritters.
Nuts are a simple way to get some quick nutrition since they can easily be stored and quickly eaten just about anywhere. Walnuts will give you an energy boost and provide you with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol. About a quarter cup of walnuts provides about 90 percent of your recommended daily intake of omega-3s. Now, that’s pretty super.