CURRENT ISSUE:  OCTOBER 2023

Fitness Dr.: My Healthiest Foods

From breakfast cereal… to nuts… to fast food, here is my healthiest list!

Healthiest Cereal
The healthiest cereal is going to be a fiber-heavy, fortified cereal made with whole grains. Whole grain cereal has the grain kernel completely intact rather than removing the germ and bran in processing, which casts aside many important vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, which prevent cell damage.

My Choice: Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli
A traditional, European-inspired muesli cereal made from a blend of whole grain wheat, rolled oats, raisins, almonds, and walnuts.

Healthiest Vegetable
According to the Centers for Disease Control, only one in 10 adults consume the recommended daily vegetable intake. Dark leafy greens have vitamin K, they are rich in calcium and a host of different antioxidants.

My Choice: Spinach
One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, plus 120% of the DV for vitamin K, all for just seven calories. Spinach also boasts antioxidants, which may help reduce your risk of disease. One study found that dark leafy greens like spinach are high in beta carotene and lutein, two antioxidants that are associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Another study suggested that spinach may benefit heart health by helping reduce blood pressure. Spinach is high in iron, potassium, magnesium, and carotenoids (like vitamin A), as well as vitamins K, C, E and B. All that to say, it’s full of vitamins and minerals essential to blood clotting, bone metabolism and a healthy immune system, and antioxidants for anti-aging and anti-inflammation.

Healthiest Fast Food
This may seem counterintuitive, but this “fast-food” option is quite healthy!

My Choice: Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets with Kale Crunch Side
The combination of the kale crunch side salad, with grilled nuggets, is one of the healthiest fast-food combinations. It’s low in calories and high in protein, which is going to keep you fuller longer. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. Furthermore, it is only 560 milligrams of sodium, making it a good option for those with high blood pressure.

Healthiest Nut
My Choice: Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of omega-3s, and they help increase HDL levels. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol.” HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol in the blood and brings it to the liver to flush out of the body. High levels of HDL are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Studies suggest walnuts also improve memory, learning, motor coordination, anxiety, and locomotor activity.

Healthiest Fruit
My Choice: Wild Blueberries

Wild blueberries are different from regular blueberries.

Wild blueberries have twice the antioxidant capacity per serving in comparison to regular blueberries and other berries, such as raspberries and strawberries.

Wild blueberries are rich in phytochemicals called polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. There are many different types of polyphenols in wild blueberries, including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, chlorogenic acids, and flavonols. Antioxidants offer a wide range of health benefits, including reducing age-associated oxidative stress and inflammation.

Wild blueberries also contain twice the amount of fiber compared to regular blueberries—about 6.2 grams of fiber per cup, which is 25% of the daily recommended value for fiber. Wild blueberries contain 30% less sugar than regular blueberries and are a low glycemic food.

Wild blueberries contain 8x more manganese compared to regular blueberries. One serving of wild blueberries (1 cup) provides 4 mg or 200% of the daily recommended value for manganese. Manganese is an important trace mineral that has antioxidant properties. Research has shown that manganese may improve bone health, reduce inflammation, help regulate blood sugar, and plays a role in nutrient metabolism.

*Dr. Peters is the founder of “The Fitness Doctor” (www.thefitnessdoctors.com). He has a Ph.D. in Physiology from Kent State University and is a certified member of the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Peters was born and raised in the Cleveland area and is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and John Carroll University. He can be reached at [email protected].

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