Even if you're the poster child for a meal Healthy, you will finally grow tired of green tea, almonds and Greek yogurt. And that's fine, because your local store is full of lesser-known super foods that pose a serious nutritional blow and deserve a place on the plate. Here are five underrated foods you should eat, plus easy ways to work with them in your daily diet.
The nutritional yeast
Also known as Nooch, the nutritional yeast deactivates the yeast, so it does not rise during cooking. Its cheese and nutty flavor makes it a healthy and great dressing for salads or salty snacks like popcorn.
WHY HE'S HEALTHY: Nutritional yeast is a rich source of vitamin B12, a nutrient that increases your energy, protects your brain, and promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails, says Lainie Cooper, a nutrition specialist based in in Denver. It is also a complete protein (a source of proteins such as meat, eggs and milk that contains the nine essential amino acids), making it a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets. How to eat: Mix 1-2 tablespoons in sauces, soups or fried foods to add rich flavor and a boost of protein without many extra calories (2 tablespoons have around 60 calories).
Originally known for their ability to sprout on funny-looking clay animals, chia seeds are making a comeback, this time, at the grocery store. These miniature black seeds mostly have no flavor, but add a texture to salads and soups.
WHY ARE HEALTHY: A serving of chia seeds provides a good dose of antioxidants, protein, fiber, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids in only 140 calories. High doses of omega-3 can help reduce inflammation, treat or prevent anxiety and depression, and even slow down the aging process, says Cooper. You do not have to grind the chia to get the maximum benefits, and the seeds do not spoil quickly, making them much more convenient than flaxseed.
HOW TO EAT THEM: Sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, yogurt, salads... really on anything! The seeds form a gel when mixed with liquid, making them ideal for thickening smoothies, salad dressings and soups.
Like flavored yogurt, this fermented milk drink is like a thick, protein-laden smoothie.
WHY HEALTHY: Whole proteins in kefir are easily digested, so even people who are lactose intolerant can consume the beverage. Because it is full of friendly intestinal bacteria called probiotics, it has been shown that kefir improves the immune system, balances digestion, and lowers cholesterol.It is also an excellent source of vitamin D and calcium, says Gina Casagrande, nutritionist and wellness coach.
HOW TO EAT IT: Pour it in a glass for a light breakfast or a sweet snack. Just be careful: Since kefir is so full of healthy probiotics, you may have to create a tolerance for it. Start with a small glass (about half a cup) and increase the amount every few days.
Hemp that is available in seeds, nuts, protein powder and oil can be easily added to your favorite foods to boost the nutritional value.
WHY IT'S HEALTHY: Hemp oil is more loaded with essential fatty acids (omega-6 and omega-3) than any other oil. These "good" fats can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and a host of other chronic diseases. Hemp is also packed full of protein (once again, the type of the nine amino acids), making it an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans, says nutritionist Torey Jones, RD.
HOW TO EAT IT: Mix two tablespoons of hemp seeds in your oatmeal. You can also add it to a shake for an extra dose of protein.
With a less spicy flavor and almost twice the antioxidant content of fresh garlic, black garlic - aged and fermented garlic - may be the best ugly food you eat.
WHY HE'S HEALTHY: The powerful antioxidants in black garlic protect cells from disease and can even help keep you young for longer. "As we age, we become oxidized due to the use of our body's oxygen to metabolize food, as well as the sun, smoke, pollution, and many other factors, "said Casagrande." Antioxidants can help slow the aging process by blocking that oxidation from occurring. "
HOW TO EAT IT: The mild, sweet taste of black garlic makes it a versatile super-added to any recipe in which you would have to use fresh garlic, from pasta dishes to soups and stews. The best part? It does not leave garlic breath.