After a holiday season filled with delicious treats and rich meals, you may feel like it’s time to make more health-conscious nutrition decisions. You’re not alone. Getting healthy is the most popular New Year’s resolution for Americans. After a cancer diagnosis, eating healthier may feel even more important to you, but even with extra motivation, healthy eating can still be difficult when there are so many temptations in everyday life.
The American Psychological Association suggests making small goals that you think you can achieve. If you want to improve your diet, think about small wins that you can easily accomplish rather than worrying about having a perfect diet. One idea that may work for you is simply adding nutritious foods to your diet. While this goal is simple, its benefits are numerous.
“Variety in our diet may help with maintaining a healthy immune system. No one food has all the nutrients the body needs to function at its best. To kick up your focus on variety, try adding one superfood a month to your meals throughout 2018,” suggests Kalli Castille, MS, RDN, LD, FAND, Director of Integrative and Culinary Services at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Superfoods for the New Year
While there are no standard criteria for what constitutes a superfood, according to Castille, superfoods are nutrient-rich. As an example, wild salmon is considered a superfood for its rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Many fruits and vegetables you can find at the grocery store are also considered superfoods. Plus, when you choose seasonal fruits and vegetables picked at their prime, they may contain more antioxidants and phytochemicals. A diet high in fruits and vegetable may also help maintain your immune system. Here are Castille’s seasonal picks to help you increase variety and nutrition in your diet in 2018:
Winter (January – March)
This wintertime favorite is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, among many other nutrients. You can prepare them in many ways, ranging from roasting to steaming to shredding for salad. Try easy brussels sprouts with pecans and dried cranberries or mustard glazed brussels sprouts.
At its peak in the coldest months, this tart citrus fruit has 4g of dietary fiber per cup and is a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Simply peel and enjoy, or add over a spinach salad with a citrus vinaigrette.
These flavor-packed green leaves pack a nutritional punch with large amounts of vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and even some calcium. This Kale Salad with Quinoa, Tangerines and Roasted Almonds is a crowd pleaser! And, tropi-kale green smoothie can help you get your leafy greens in before starting your day.
This versatile fan favorite adjusts to your whim, while providing you with 4g of dietary fiber per cup, plus large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B6, and potassium . Feeling like a sweet side? Whipped Sweet potatoes will do the trick. Or, would you prefer a salty snack? Try savory sweet potato wedges spiced with garlic and rosemary.
Spring (April – June)
Packed from end to end with nutrients, asparagus is both delicious and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and many others. Asparagus Soup will warm you on colder days, while Spring Pasta Primavera will become a family favorite.
While it might not be new to your plate, you may not know that broccoli is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium . Eat it raw, steam it, roast it – no matter how you prepare it, broccoli is delicious and nutritious.
Mushrooms contain some vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium and make a great topping on a variety of dishes, especially pizza and soup, like butternut squash soup with leeks and wild mushrooms.
A popular vegetable to incorporate into all three meals of the day, onions contain vitamin C. Consider adding them to your morning omelet, thinly slicing for your lunch salad or sandwich, and mixing in with any savory dinner recipe.
Summer (July – September)
With 8g of dietary fiber per cup, blackberries are an exceptional fruit to add to your diet. They contain high amounts of vitamin C. Start your day with a pomegranate antioxidant smoothie or tame the summer heat with triple antioxidant yogurt popsicles.
Cool and crisp, cucumbers are low in calories, and are easy to prepare . Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber salad is perfect for a summertime picnic.
Fall (October – December)
Cauliflower camouflages itself well in many dishes, increasing the nutritional value of your family’s favorites with dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese. Try Better for you Mac ‘n’ Cheese and pizza with a gluten-free cauliflower crust.
Both red and golden beets make beautiful side dishes with their bright colors and sweet flavor. Beets are a good source of dietary fiber, folate, potassium and manganese. While they shine on their own, try complementing them with other flavors like in Fresh Beet Salad.
Other than its cream-colored skin, this root vegetable closely resembles a carrot. Full of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and manganese, parsnips roast nicely, like in our Carrot & Parsnip Fries recipe.
As the seasons change and you incorporate new ingredients into your diet, report back to us at Cancer Fighters Thrive and let us know which superfoods have become your favorites.