If there’s one person/profession that will steer you in the right nutritional direction when it comes to ingredient choices, it’s a doctor (not the evil scientist variety like Dr. Frankenstein, but a medical one).
So, who better to query than the M.D.’s themselves on which foods are best at boosting energy, fighting diseases, and making us into overall, nutritional powerhouses?
These seven ingredients are what physicians are adding to their healthy meals nowadays.
The vibrant spice brings flash and flavour to any dish (and nutrition benefits, too).
‘It’s an especially good ingredient for bringing a smoky depth to vegan food, almost like bacon,’ explains Linda Shiue, MD, an internal medicine physician and the Director of Culinary Medicine with Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.
‘This is made from capsicums/peppers and contains vitamin A, beta-carotene and other carotenoids. As antioxidants, carotenoids prevent cellular damage that can lead to chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and arthritis.’
Another spice to add to your rack, turmeric possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties, similar to pharmaceutical Cox-2 inhibitors like Celebrex.
‘This is the golden orange spice ingredient that forms the base of curry powders. It can help with inflammatory conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease,’ says Dr. Shiue.
Don’t get too excited – that doesn’t say ‘burger’. Bulgur is a whole-wheat grain that’s parboiled and dried, it’s an easy ingredient to prepare – just add boiling water.
‘It can be used any place you’d use rice, and it can also be served cold as a grain salad base,’ Dr. Shiue says. ‘Bulgur is also a great food for diabetics because bulgur is high in fiber with a very low glycemic index, with little impact on blood sugar, unlike white rice.’
Coined as ‘a genius invention’, cashew cream is made through soaking raw cashews in water, then blending it in water. That creates a simple, plant-based substitute for cream or milk in any recipe.
‘It’s a game-changer, allowing people who are avoiding animal products, dairy, and saturated fats to still enjoy the creamy flavor and texture. Like all nuts, cashews are rich in protein, fiber, iron and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat,’ explains Dr. Shiue.
A common side dish served in the pods they grow in, edamame beans have a home in grain salads, stir-fries, or even as toppings to green salads.
‘A half cup provides about 9g of protein and 4g of fiber, providing a simple way to add extra power nutrients to your favorite meals,’ suggests Dr. Cederquist.
Robin Evans, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Stamford, CT, keeps her skin revitalized with the addition of flax seeds to her morning meals. She recommends adding them to bowls of fruit, such as organic berries, papaya, and pomegranate.
‘Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fats and provides powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, making it one of the superfood seeds everyone should eat. It’s great for the gut and helps as a vegetarian and natural way to encourage regular bowel movements as well,’ Dr. Evans says.
Related: Superfoods that Work Better Together
Ginger is a key ingredient to Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, MS, an internal medicine physician at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
‘I’m a huge fan of adding it to a lot of my meals, or drinking it in tea and other beverages,’ she says.
‘The great thing about ginger is that not only does it have some wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but more specifically the phenols in ginger really work to help alleviate certain gastrointestinal symptoms. Ginger has also been linked to easing menstrual pain and helping with chemotherapy induced nausea.’
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