Power through your workout, boost your health, and lose weight with these common, yet oft-overlooked superfoods.
Perhaps most commonly eaten wrapped around a sushi roll, nori is loaded with iodine, a mineral essential for proper thyroid function. While iodized salt was introduced in 1924 to prevent goiter, the increased emphasis on low-sodium diets and the popularity of sea salt, which often doesn’t contain iodine, have recently resurfaced concerns about getting enough iodine. This trace mineral isn’t the only benefit of sea vegetables. Nori contains high levels of vitamin K and iron, micronutrients essential for proper cellular function. Look for nori pieces in the international section of your supermarket and crumble them on top of chili, soups, and salads. (This will add a little extra salty flavor, so if you are salt sensitive, use less in your recipe.)
Considering cabbage is low-carb, high-fiber, and contains cancer-fighting 3-indole carbinol and d-glucarate, a compound that works to clear excess estrogen, the veggie is already a superfood. Fermenting it into sauerkraut, however, puts it on nutritional steroids. The probiotics that drive fermentation also help repopulate your digestive system with healthy, hardworking good bacteria that lower inflammation, improve digestion, and maybe even aid in weight loss. Plus fermentation increases the bioavailablity of the antioxidants found in cabbage, and the longer cabbage ferments, the higher the levels of antioxidants become, meaning your body can better absorb and use them.
No, these will not make you high. While hemp and marijuana are kissing cousins, the amount of THC in hemp is almost nonexistent. In 2004, the DEA’s ban on hemp seeds and oil due to their trace THC content was overruled, and hemp is not considered a drug. The seeds are powerful, however, as two tablespoons contains 400 milligrams of anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid and 2 grams of omega-3 fats, plus all nine essential amino acids, compounds that help maximize recovery from workouts.
Pasta lovers, it’s time to throw an Italian feast: Now you can enjoy your noodles for 20 calories and 5 carbs (and some brands have even less of both!) per serving. Shirataki noodles are made from the konjac plant, the same plant that we get the fiber and satiety supplement glucomannan from-read: They keep you full. Shirataki don’t have much flavor and come in every shape from angel to fettuccine to penne and more, so you can use them in any pasta recipe. Just take them out of the bag, rinse thoroughly, and heat, and they’re ready to toss into stroganoff, primavera, or whatever you’re craving.
After a study showed that beets can improve performance and reduce the amount of oxygen needed to complete a cardio session, the sports and fitness community has been raving about the root veggie and its juice. Beets contain nitrates, which are used in the production of nitric oxide, a compound that makes blood vessels dilate, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to your working muscles. Enjoy them raw, cooked, or juiced.
Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and B vitamins are necessary for energy metabolism, and you can find both in asparagus. Not only is a stalk only three calories, but a recent study in the Journal of Food Science reported that asparagus can aid the body in accelerating the metabolism of alcohol. Next time you host a cocktail party, serve this superfood wrapped in prosciutto for tasty, low-carb, high-protein hors d’oeuvres that will help your guests wake up hangover-free in the morning.