Healthy Eats: Top 5 Harvest Superfoods
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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.
Swiss chard is also a rich source of Vitamin K, which “helps reduce the messengers of inflammation.” Unlike kale, she adds, Swiss chard is safe for people who have hyperthyroid issues. To top it off, it contains powerful antioxidants and reduces the bad kind of cholesterol – plus it’s versatile.
“Anywhere you’d use spinach, you can use Swiss chard.”
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.
Most people know it freshens breath, but did you know it’s also a diuretic and can help you drop water and reduce excess swelling?
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.