Top 5 Harvest Superfoods
These 5 foods are loaded with nutritional value.
This is a fantastic time of year to eat. Locally-grown food is so plentiful right now it’s hard to know what to enjoy first. Farmers’ markets are overflowing with fruits and vegetables, creating a visual wonderland of colour and texture.
Julie Daniluk, a Toronto-based registered nutritionist, health educator, writer and TV personality, knows what lies beneath those colours and textures. Here are her top five picks for superfoods of the harvest – foods that pack extraordinary nutritional value.
1) Swiss chard: “Greens are coming in fast and furious and they’re the backbone of the anti-inflammatory foods,” she says. “Swiss chard is a beautiful, delicate green that comes in a rainbow of colours” (with yellow, red, purple or white stems). Julie says they’re all high in B vitamins, as well as magnesium, which reduces headaches, helps you better manage stress, and reduces asthma and hot flashes.
2) Parsley: “This has historically been sanctioned as a garnish, so people tend to leave it on their plates,” says Julie. “But we should really be embracing it for its incredible properties. Parsley is just so underrated.” It’s not only powerfully anti-inflammatory, Julie says studies indicate parsley’s bioactive flavonoid, called Apigenin, has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, digestive tract cancer, as well as skin and prostate cancers.
Julie suggests chopping it up finely and adding it to soups and stews, salads and salad dressings, and even smoothies. (Try her Parsley Detox Smoothie.) Parsley, she says, also helps to modulate the immune system which means it can help fight allergies or auto-immune disorders.
3) Concorde grapes: These extremely dark-skinned, seeded grapes pack a powerful punch. The dark pigment in the skin helps reduce blood pressure and complications from heart disease, while improving circulation in your arteries. These late summer grapes also contain polyphenals that reduce inflammation in the body, plus they’re high in antioxidants.
“Their thick, sour skin contains the power nutrients and the sweet flesh inside just adds to the eating pleasure,” says Julie. “They’re outrageously nutritious and so pleasurable.”
4) Local hazelnuts: Once more commonly known as filberts, these little guys contain a whack of Vitamin E, the great hormone regulator, says Julie. They’re good for menopausal symptoms, for thinning your blood, and they’re key for healthy skin and hair.”Vitamin E is a real beauty supplement because it moisturizes you from the inside out.”
Hazelnuts also help you fend off snack attacks since they’re oily and satisfying and fill you up quickly, unlike chips. “The other thing I love about hazelnuts is that they’re a truly Canadian superfood, whereas almonds are imported from Latin America or California,” says Julie. “And what people may not know is that all almonds are cooked before they cross the border into Canada. They’re all pasteurized and they all go through a heat bath.”
5) Heirloom carrots: “These are one of the brightest, most beautiful superfoods,” she says. These carrots come in red, yellow, purple and orange and while they all have tremendous nutritional value, the red carrots contain lycopene which has been shown to reduce prostrate inflammation. Julie defines ‘heirloom’ as an unmodified fruit or veggie that’s been passed down for generations and is the purest genetic form.
The best way to cook them she says is to lightly steam, roast or sauté to maintain nutritional value. “We know that a lightly cooked carrot has more nutrition than a raw carrot.” One cup of cooked carrots also has four grams of fibre and is rich in phytonutrients which help to reduce the risk of bowel cancer. And the yellow carrots contain extra nutrients that have been shown to help prevent macular degeneration.