Some foods get all the attention and don’t deserve it. Others are gems that go largely unnoticed. It’s time to set the record straight. What foods are commonly underrated and which of those are generally overrated.
- Sunflower Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, pecans. You often hear about their virtues. But sunflower seeds are rarely in the spotlight. That’s a shame because sunflower seeds are at least as good as most nuts…and they’re cheaper. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds has 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein plus 2o to 75 percent of a day’s copper, vitamin E, selenium and manganese and roughly 10 percent of a day’s zinc, magnesium and vitamin B-6.
For a snack, buy sunflower seeds in the shell (it will slow down your munching). For tossing on salads or yogurt, buy them raw, unsalted and shell free. There’s only one catch: every ¼ cup contains 180 calories…and it’s tough to stop there.
All beans are good beans. They’re rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. And they’re dirt cheap in cans, and cheaper if you buy them dried. Just drain, rinse and toss a handful on your green salad.
If you have an extra few minutes, dress them up with chopped scallions, olive oil and lemon juice. Or coat with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh chopped garlic and serve as is. You can also throw chickpeas into vegetable stews, curries and soups; mix them with brown rice, whole wheat couscous, bulgur or other whole grains; stir them into your chili; or add them to a pot of simmering greens. They’re the easiest beans around.
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love the juicy sweet taste explosion set off by a bite of crisp watermelon. Contrary to what most people think, watermelon is no lightweight in the nutrient department. A standard serving (about 2 cups) has 38 percent of a day’s vitamin C, 32 percent of a day’s vitamin A, and 7 percent of a day’s potassium for only 85 fat-free, salt-free calories. You won’t find 2 cups of many foods that go that easy on your waistline.
Bonus: Watermelon is one of the fruits with the fewest pesticide residues.
So the next time you walk past the watermelon to get to those petite plastic containers of expensive raspberries or blueberries don’t forget the filling, economical fruit that comes in its own container.
- Leafy Greens
Generally at the supermarket you’d reach for the lettuce and maybe the spinach. But that’s about it. Nothing wrong with that, except that you’re missing out on powerhouse greens like kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens and Swiss Chard.
Why do you skip them? If you’re like most people, you don’t have the foggiest idea how to cook them. Our advice: Start with kale, which is one of the milder greens. Leafy greens are jam-packed with vitamins A, C and K, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, lutein and fiber. And people who eat them have a lower risk of diabetes, stroke, colon cancer, cataracts, bone loss, and memory loss.