There is no question that certain familiar foods like yogurt and salmon
can be the backbone of a healthy diet, but eating the same items day in
and day out is a sure-fire route to dietary burnout.
And it turns out that introducing a new class of plate heroes to our
menus can have important health perks. Researchers at Harvard and New
York University found that people who consumed a greater variety of
foods tended to have less body fat and were at lower risk for metabolic
syndrome than those who adhered to more limited eating plans (Vadiveloo,
Parekh & Mattei 2015; Vadiveloo 2015). Metabolic syndrome includes a
cluster of concerns associated with heart disease—high blood pressure
and high cholesterol levels, among them.
“Introducing a greater variety of healthy foods may make it easier to
adhere to a healthy dietary pattern over time, resulting in better
weight control and other health parameters,” said study author Maya
Vadiveloo, PhD, RD. “Greater variety may also make it easier to eat less
of the foods that most people need to restrict in order to lose weight
or maintain a healthy weight.”
Similarly, a 2015 Cornell University study found that people who were
more adventurous eaters (beef heart, anyone?) tended to focus more on
eating healthy foods and staying physically active (Latimer, Pope &
So, to rekindle a flagging food mojo and perhaps even trim a few
waistlines, why not encourage your fitness or nutrition clients to give
their shopping lists a little creative boost by swapping out the usual
fare for some tasty and nutritious alternatives. These superfood switch
hits are a perfect way to get those taste buds excited again.
Instead of Olive Oil
Try Hemp Oil
Here’s more proof that it’s a good idea to live and eat a little
greener. This up-and-coming verdant oil with a pleasantly earthy-nutty
flavor is made by pressing the fat from hemp seeds.
The oil’s main nutritional virtue is impressive amounts of essential
omega fatty acids. These are deemed “essential” because the human body
cannot make them and must obtain them through the diet for good heart,
brain and skin health. Alpha-linolenic acid, the main omega-3 fat
in hemp, has been associated with reduced risk for developing type 2
diabetes (Muley, Muley & Shah 2014). Hemp oil also contains compounds
that exert antioxidant properties, which may help in the battle against
various diseases (Teh & Morlock 2015).
Once opened, hemp oil should be kept in the refrigerator to maintain
Sneak more in: With hemp oil, you want to hold the heat. It’s too
delicate for cooking, so save it for salad dressings, dips and pestos,
or drizzle it over roasted vegetables.
Try this: To make a fantastic pesto for pasta, sandwiches and
burgers, pulse together 2 cups arugula, 1 cup fresh basil, ⅓ cup
walnuts, ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 chopped garlic cloves, juice of
½ lemon and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor until coarsely minced.
With the machine running, pour in ¼ cup hemp oil through the feed tube
and process until combined.
Instead of Kale
Jaunty kale and Brussels sprouts are already considered nutritional
heavy hitters, so when you combine the two, you’ve got a newfangled
vegetable worth adding to your grocery cart. This whimsical crossbreed
vegetable with an appearance similar to a badminton birdie was produced
via non-GMO seed hybridization. The resulting lovechild has a hint of
nutty flavor and a less bitter bite than its parents.
More nutritional analysis is needed, but it can be assumed that like
other vegetables in the Brassica family, trendy kalettes supply an
arsenal of cancer-fighting antioxidants. They are also a fantastic
source of vitamin K, which has been linked to lower diabetes risk
(Ibarrola-Jurado et al. 2012).
Sneak more in: Enjoy kalettes raw, steamed, blanched, sautéed,
roasted or even grilled.
Try this: Toss a bunch of kalettes with some oil and roast them
in a 425°F oven for about 12 minutes, or until the outer leaves have
turned crispy. Blend olive oil, white wine vinegar, walnuts, Dijon
mustard, garlic, salt and black pepper. Toss roasted kalettes with
To get more ideas on superfood swaps, please see “In With the New” in the online IDEA Library or in the November 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.
Ibarrola-Jurado, N., et al. 2012. Dietary phylloquinone intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in elderly subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96 (5), 1113-18.
Latimer , L.A., Pope, L., & Wansink, B. 2015. Food neophiles: Profiling the adventurous eater. Obesity, 23 (8), 1577-81.
Muley, A., Muley, P., & Shah, M. 2014. ALA, fatty fish or marine n-3 fatty acids for preventing DM?: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Diabetes Reviews, 10 (3), 158-65.
Teh, S.S., & Morlock, G.E. 2015. Effect-directed analysis of cold-pressed hemp, flax and canola seed oils by planar chromatography linked with (bio)assays and mass spectrometry. Food Chemistry, 187, 460-68.
Vadiveloo, M., Parekh, & Mattei, J. 2015. Greater healthful food variety as measured by the U.S. Healthy Food Diversity index is associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome and its components in US adults. Journal of Nutrition, 145 (3), 564-71.
Vadiveloo, M., et al. 2015. Dietary variety is inversely associated with body adiposity among US adults using a novel food diversity index. Journal of Nutrition, 145 (3), 555-63.