All calories are not created equally, so its important to distinguish between the most nutrient dense foods and the most nutrient poor foods. These five foods below offer the former; they pack a nutritional punch, amping up your meals’ vitamin, mineral, and protein content.
1. Broccoli: Calcium
Broccoli is a superstar. Just 1 cup of broccoli or 55 calories worth is 6.2% calcium and has 62.40 mg of that mineral. Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, chromium, folate, dietary fiber, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, choline, vitamin B1, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), potassium, copper, vitamin B1, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, iron, niacin, and selenium.
Three cups of broccoli daily, can help optimize levels of antioxidants in the blood, especially beta-carotene and lutein. (Optimal antioxidant levels can help lower the risk of oxidative stress in healthy cells, which also helps lower their risk of becoming cancerous.) However, a mere cup of broccoli also provides some of those benefits. For more information about calcium and broccoli, check out this article!
2. Lentils: Protein and Fiber
We love lentils and there are so many varieties to choose from! Nutrition-wise, 1 cup of cooked lentils or 230 calories worth is 35.7% calcium and has 18 grams of it. The same quantity of the lentils also is 62.5% protein. Lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate. They are a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. Additionally, they are a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium, and vitamin B6.
Lentils are super rich in dietary fiber, both soluble (which forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract to snares bile, containing cholesterol and transports it out of the body) and insoluble (helps to increase stool bulk prevent constipation, and prevents digestive disorders).
3. Collard Greens: Calcium
In 1 cup of boiled collard greens, there are 63 calories and a total of 266 mg of calcium.
Collard greens are also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin 6, and iron, vitamin E, copper, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B5, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B1, and potassium.
Dark green collards are kind of bitter raw, but if you wash them and treat them with some lemon juice, their flavor becomes more mild and palatable, so its best to make collard wraps with these treated greens. Check out this recipe, and then there are these five recipes that you’ll have to try while you’re on your collards kick.
4. Spinach: Vitamin C and Protein
1 cup of spinach or 41 calories worth is composed of 10.7% protein and 23.5% vitamin C.
Spinach leaves that are bright green, as opposed to pale yellow, are richer in vitamin C, and the vitamin C protects the oxygen-sensitive phytonutrients in the spinach leaves. These leaves, calorie for calorie, have more nutrients than other other food and it is available throughout the year despite its season running from March through May and from September through October.
Spinach stuffed mushrooms are the perfect way to showcase the beauty of spinach, and so is this fantastic rice recipe. Give them both a go, and see your body relish in the nutrient rich awesomeness of spinach.
5. Sunflower Seeds: Vitamin E and Magnesium
A 1/4 cup serving of sunflower seeds is composed of 82% vitamin E and 28.4% magnesium. These nutty tasting seeds are firm with a slight tenderness that are very high in polyunsaturated oil and thus also an excellent source of vitamin E—the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant—and magnesium. This mineral helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you want a creamy way to infuse your breakfast with some sunflower goodness, then make this rich, sprouted sunflower seed milk. If that doesn’t float your boat, try these amazing cookies enriched with these magnesium filled seeds. Both recipes put this nutty seed in center stage, so you can’t go wrong with either.
The next time you go to the store, pick up all five of these amazing ingredients, and infuse them with into your daily meals to get the most nutrition into every morsel.
Image source: How to Make Sprouted Sunflower Seed Milk