Get the Most Out of Your Meals
Several times a year, we challenge ourselves to healthier diets and, admittedly, in time we’ve lost focus. It’s never too late to get back on track and make nutrition a healthy daily habit. As an athlete, it is vital that you pay close attention to what you put in your body. And as a martial artist, good health practices not only impact performance, but also exhibit discipline.
To help you set fresh goals, we’ve rounded up nine superfoods that provide a variety of benefits covering everything from eyesight to blood pressure to mood swings. Let us show you just what’s so special about these dishes that will take you to new heights.
If you find yourself to be of the “oats are boring” mindset, think again. Apart from being packed with protein and fiber, oats are also full of B vitamins and minerals like calcium and zinc. Oats can help lower cholesterol and even help with diabetes.
Recipe: Tired of oatmeal? Try oat waffles instead. Blend oats, water, almond milk, olive oil and salt to put a new spin on an old breakfast favorite. Feeling sweet? Add a dollop of yogurt on top.
Red Bell Peppers
You might know that the beta-carotene that gives the pepper its color promotes eye health, which is essential to focus on sparring. But did you know that a red bell pepper has two times as much vitamin C as an orange? Go ahead and grab one. Your skin, heart and immune system will thank you.
Recipe: Throw chickpeas, tahini and red bell peppers in a blender to make your own hummus. If you’re a fan of crunch, chop up a few peppers and throw them in your salad.
Just because a can of black beans lacks the glitz and glam of some other foods doesn’t take away from its superhero status. The levels of fiber and protein in black beans are off the charts, leaving you full and energized for the next ATA FIT workout. They’re a great source of iron and antioxidants, and as an added bonus, they’re inexpensive.
Recipe: Black beans make the perfect addition to just about anything; soups, salads, burgers, you name it. Pitch in a low-sodium batch and enjoy. There are even black bean brownies for the brave souls out there.
Popeye’s reaction to spinach may have been a little dramatic, but maybe it wasn’t so far off. Often hailed as the best overall food you can find, the leafy green’s list of benefits include copious amounts of vitamins (A, C, K, D and E), omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber, as well as fighting heart disease, diabetes, memory loss, cancer and arthritis. This is also a superfood to help prevent osteoporosis so that the only thing you’re breaking inn class is your boards!
Recipe: Every bit as versatile as it is healthy, spinach works in everything. Use it to replace lettuce in your salad, throw it in an omelet or pasta sauce or even try it in a smoothie. It’s not as weird as it may sound.
Mental flexibility and heart health are only two of the major benefits salmon offers, thanks to its high levels of mega-3 fatty acids. Salmon also provides a huge dose of Vitamin D to build bone strength and fight autoimmune disease.
Recipe: Rub each side of your salmon in olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper and grill. Serve on a bed of kale or spinach to make a delicious seafood salad. Like a little kick? You can’t go wrong with sriracha.
Eating well doesn’t have to be a chore. In small doses (think one or two ounces), dark chocolate can improve heart health, blood pressure, skin quality and even your mood. But don’t get carried away; it is still a high calorie snack. And stick to dark chocolate; it’s the only variety with these levels of antioxidants.
Recipe: Heat almond milk, dark chocolate, cinnamon, cayenne and coarse salt over medium-low heat and you’ve got yourself some spiced, hot, dark chocolate. Occasionally swap out your morning coffee for a cup of this good stuff and don’t think twice about it.
Mother Nature knows what she’s doing with blueberries. Not only are they delicious, but they also help lower blood pressure and speed up your metabolism. They also help boost memory function, which comes in handy when practicing your Songahm form. Maybe feeling blue isn’t always a bad thing.
Recipe: Popping a handful of blueberries isn’t a bad idea, but you can also add them to oatmeal, yogurt or breakfast bars. Just make sure you stick to the one cup suggested serving size to avoid their relatively high sugar content.
Fragile as they are, eggs pack a mean punch of protein, curbing your hunger longer. Despite speculation, yolks actually help promote brain, heart and liver health. Unless you have high cholesterol, don’t ditch the yolk.
Recipe: If you love egg salad, but avoid it because of the mayo, swap the spread out for avocado instead.
Known for high fiber and protein, nuts also contain unsaturated fats, calcium and thiamine (a nervous system booster), they also help lower the risk of diabetes and cancer. If you’re aiming for weight loss, opt for pistachios which have the fewest calories.
Recipe: If you need an on-the-go snack before class, combine your favorite nuts with raisins, seeds and dried cranberries to create your own personal trail mix. Another way to keep your diet nutty is by sprinkling them on top of pancakes or baked chicken.
Author: Jess Ardrey