When Food Network chef Dave Lieberman and New York Times science writer Anahad O'Connor surveyed the growing pantheon of so-called superfoods, they found many that were health-promoting powerhouses — but also many that were expensive, tricky to cook with and not particularly tasty. So the two set out to create their own list of foods that have scientifically supported health benefits and also are "affordable, appealing and versatile in the kitchen." O'Connor narrowed the list to 20, and Lieberman reduced that by half. The result was their co-authored cookbook, The 10 Things You Need to Eat, and More than 100 Easy and Delicious Ways to Prepare Them. For AARP.org, Lieberman discussed the merits of these superfoods and offered recipes for using them.
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Put them in brownies. Seriously. "The natural creaminess of avocado makes it a great substitute for creamy, saturated milk fat such as butter and cream," says Lieberman, "which is why you can make delicious brownies, smoothies and other desserts with avocado as the main source of fat."
Though avocados contain more fat than almost any other fruit, it's virtually all monounsaturated fat whose many benefits include raising good cholesterol, lowering bad cholesterol and preventing heart disease. And if that weren't enough, it's high in fiber, low in calories, and even higher than bananas in the blood-pressure-reducing mineral potassium.
If you ate canned beets as a kid and think you hate them, try them again. They are "nature's multivitamin," according to Lieberman and O'Connor, who say the beet contains a greater range of nutrients ounce for ounce "than virtually any other fruit or vegetable on the planet." The antioxidants that turn beets deep red also fight off free radicals that attack the body's cells and can lead to aging and disease including cancer. Compounds in beets also have been shown to lower blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk, and to help cleanse the body of harmful chemicals in processed foods, such as nitrates. "Beets are surprisingly versatile," Lieberman says. "They can be eaten raw or cooked and are delicious cold and hot."
Forget those fancy exotic berries like the Acai from the Brazilian rain forest. North America's berries are just as laden with antioxidants, more economical, and versatile and tasty to boot. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries make their "all-star team of superfruits." Each should be added equally to a diet to reap their individual benefits: strawberries for potassium, raspberries for vitamin C, blueberries for fiber and blackberries for vitamin E and more. "It's not hard to come up with crowd-pleasing recipes with berries," Lieberman says. "But making both sweet and savory dishes with berries was an adventure for me, and it turned out great."
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