Often when people are concerned about deficiencies in their diet they turn to supplements. It might seem like an easy and effective way to enhance your fibre, vitamin, and antioxidant intake but there are better ways. Having the right combination and variety of foods can easily enhance your nutrients in a way that is most efficient for your body. The key is to have the right ingredients on hand and make it easy to use them whether that is with making smoothies, salads, or soups and stews. It should be said that some vitamins cannot be obtained from food such as Vitamin D and in the winter in which case supplements may be recommended by your doctor.
If you are looking for ways to increase the nutritional value of your meals check these foods out:
Blackstrap molasses has the highest nutrient content of all types of molasses. One tablespoon adds 170 mg of calcium, 3.5 mg of iron, and 500 mg of potassium (potassium helps regulate blood pressure). Add it to smoothies, drizzle it over oatmeal, add it to baked beans, or use it as to baste roasted chicken.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds provides 5 g of fibre, 90 mg of calcium, 2.5 mg of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. Add chia seeds to smoothies, sprinkle them over hot cereal or yogurt, add them to granola, or include them in hummus, casseroles, stir-fries, or muffins.
Cocoa offers a bit of fibre, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Cocoa’s big contribution to your health are flavonoids which are antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, relax blood vessels, improves blood flow, and lowers blood pressure. Add unsweetened cocoa powder to shakes, salad dressings, or mix it in chili and stews.
Flaxseeds are loaded with the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Two tablespoons provides 3.2 g, which is the equivalent of 2 days worth for men (women need 1.1 g per day and men need 1.6 g). High intake of ALA can help guard against Type 2 diabetes. Ground flax seeds also provide lignans, which are phytochemicals, linked to the prevention of breast and prostate cancer. Ground flaxseeds can be used like chia seeds.
Hemp seeds can increase protein, magnesium, and ALA intake. Two tablespoons will give you 6.3 g of protein, 1.7 g of ALA and almost half a days requirement of magnesium for women (one-third of a days requirement for men). Hemp hearts can be used the same way you use ground flax seed or chia seeds.
Nutritional yeast is sold as flakes or powder in natural food stores. It is a source of vitamin B, especially vitamin B12. Depending on the brand, fortified nutritional yeast can provide between 4 and 12 micrograms (mcg) of B12 per tablespoon (adults require 2.4mcg per day). Since it has a cheesy flavour nutritional yeast is great sprinkled over pasta, popcorn, baked potato, scrambled eggs, cooked vegetables, and salads.
Pomegranate seeds are loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols and also provide fibre, B vitamins, vitamins C and K, and potassium. Add pomegranate seeds to green or fruit salads, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, rice pilafs, and muffins.
The key thing about turmeric is it’s content of curcumin, a phytochemical that’s is shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Add turmeric to water when cooking rice, sprinkle it over cauliflower before roasting, or drink it as a tea.
Walnut Oil: Walnut oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Drizzle it over hot cereal, use it in salad dressings, but don’t use it to cook as it is not good with high heat.
Wheat Germ Oil: This oil is a good source of vitamin E which helps protect us from heart and eye disease. One tablespoon provides 20mg of vitamin E. (adults require 15mg per day) Add wheat germ oil to smoothies, protein shakes, dips and salad dressings.