We may have this whole thing backwards. The average American eats “nutrient poor, calorie rich ” foods. Things like a McDonalds Hamburger, slice of pizza or a box of sour patch kids. What if we switched that mantra to “nutrient rich, calorie poor ” foods? Things like plant based superfoods. The proposal is a lofty one, I know, however, the cost of not switching to a “nutrient rich, calorie poor ” diet is trending to be more expensive than staying the on par with the current trend of “nutrient poor, calorie rich ” foods. The tidbit below slapped me in the face when I read it, I simply couldn’t believe it. The enormous expense incurred by a disease that is not only preventable but reversible with diet and lifestyle adjustment is staggering.

The model revealed that a man diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between the ages of 25 and 44 can be expected to incur related costs of $124,700 over his lifetime. A woman diagnosed at the same age may incur related costs of $130,800 over her lifetime.

Now I know one post about some superfoods won’t do much, however, the quote below is a great parallel on how we (if you’re a trainer, health coach, doctor of any sort) can literally help change the world and give people their lives back by teaching them about self-care. We have to be like the stream, not by strength, but by perseverance of educating, coaching and assisting all those out there who need our help. You do that by showing up and sticking around.

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through perseverance.

Enough about that. Lets move on to you.

If you’re someone who struggles with being overweight/obese, pre-diabetic, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a large midline and overall poor health due to diet and lifestyle the list below is a very simple and practical way to include foods that can actually heal you and help you get your life back. Oh, and for right now, don’t worry about organic or not. The simple fact that you’re still reading and having an itch to change your food selection is a win in itself, so be proud of that! As you progress and develop your healthy habits, you can get more particular with everything. For now, just think “nutrient rich, calorie poor ” foods. Oh and last thing (I promise), focus on just adding these foods to your diet, don’t worry about restricting or taking anything away at this point

Here is a simple and practical list of plant based super-foods that you should be eating:

1. Blueberries
Blueberries pack the most anti-oxidants of any fresh fruit, boost your immune system helping you fight off constant colds and those nasty viral and bacterial diseases. One cup of blueberries contains 4-5g of soluble fiber helping you keep your bowel movements regular. This study also shows that including blueberries in your daily diet as a low-glycemic fruit has a positive impact on blood sugar regulation with those who already have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

2. Mushrooms
The phytochemicals found in mushrooms have been known to enhance the activity of immune cells that attack and kill virus-infected and cancerous cells. Additianlly, according to Zhang M, Huang, and “Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women “, frequent consumption of mushrooms can be linked to a 64% decrease in breast cancer.

3. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are an excellent source of slow burning energy that don’t shoot up blood sugar levels. They also pack a great amount of protien, ~15 per cup! As with all beans, they are also considered a resistant starch, meaning that, even though they are a high carbohydrate food, the body digests beans as fiber and doesn’t absorb it’s full calorie content. In other words, although whole foods (like beans) and processed food (like a McDonalds burger) have the same amount of calories, we absorb fewer calories from whole foods. Since resistant starch isn’t completely digested, we extract only 2 calories per gram (versus 4 from other starches). This means that 100g of resistant starch like beans is only 200 calories, versus 100g of other starches is 400 calories.

4. Cruciferous Veggies
Want to lower your cancer risk? Get your cruciferous veggie game on point. Things like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and bok choy. This study indicates a direct correlation between the consumption of vegetables and the impact it has on reducing the changes of cancer.

5. Tumeric
A plant native to South India and Indonesia, it packs boatloads of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is largely responsible for it’s positive benefits. If you are an active person, you cause inflammation in your body. Whenever inflammation is present, it impedes with muscle repair and recovery. So theoretically, by reducing the amount of time you stay inflamed, the quicker you can recover and get back to your next training session. The most common ways to incorporate tumeric into your diet is via tea, capsules and food (although using in food can get old pretty fast). This post does a great job of diversifying the use of tumeric.

6. Buckwheat
Buckwheat has more protein than rice, wheat, millet or corn and is high in the essential amino acids lysine and arginine, in which major cereal crops are deficient. A bonus of buckwheat is that it contains no gluten -the source of protein in true grains -so if you’re intolerant of gluten, this is a safe grain to have.

7. Hemp protein powder
Certified organic hemp protein powder is a power player when it comes to eating a plant based diet. It contains all of the essential amino acids with no gluten, no sugar, no cholesterol and for those wondering, no, it doesn’t have any THC.   In addition, it contains a wonderful amount of anti-oxidants and chlorophyll which helps combat acidity and normalizes your body’s pH level.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Which ones are you currently incorporating into your diet? And which ones haven’t your tried but plan on trying in the near future?

Photo – shutterstock.com