Spinach

Spinach is a nutritional goldmine! Some of the key nutrients in spinach include, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, folic acid, and iron. Since spinach contains oxalic acid (a compound that can affect the body’s ability to absorb calcium and other minerals), serving spinach with orange slices or freshly squeezed lemon, will actually increase the absorption of many minerals.

 

Benefits:

  • Rich in iron. Iron helps to produce hemoglobin, which produces oxygen into the red blood cells. 
  • It is a good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which helps the body cope with stress. 
  • It is beneficial for people with juvenile onset diabetes, due its manganese content.  
  • The calcium and magnesium content help build strong bones and teeth and also help lower blood pressure
  • It is a good source of fiber and helps flush toxins out of the colon.
  • Good for digestion, as it helps relieve constipation and also protects the mucus lining of the stomach. 
  • Helps prevent birth defects due to its folate content.  
  • Studies have shown that it can help protect against cancer due to its high antioxidant content.
  • The high antioxidant content can also help reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can accelerate aging and increase the risk of cancer and diabetes. 

Quinoa

Due to its high nutritional value, quinoa is considered a ‘super-grain’. Quinoa provides all of the essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body and must come from food. In comparison to other grains, it is not only high in protein, but also high in iron, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. The way we cook and eat quinoa is similar to other grains and although I have referred to it as a grain here, it is actually more closely related to beets and green leafy vegetables like spinach and chard. When we eat quinoa, we actually eat the seed of a plant that is similar to spinach, not wheat.

One cup of cooked quinoa yields approximately 39 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat.

Benefits:

  • Quinoa is a complete protein, as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. 
  • Ideal for vegetarians as it contains lysine (a rare amino acid in vegetables), methionine, and cysteine, which are all important for vegetarians as most plant sources have inadequate amounts of these amino acids.
  • Perfect alternative to wheat, rye or barley because quinoa is gluten free!
  • High in insoluble fiber (about 5 grams per cup). Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down in the gut and therefore adds volume to waste in the digestive tract, which helps you feel full longer, keep bowel movements regular and help relieve constipation.
  • Fiber is great for the digestive system and also helps control weight, lower cholesterol, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Low on the glycemic index, which is ideal for those with diabetes or unstable blood sugar levels.
  • High in antioxidants, which help to reduce free radicals, fight aging, and are good for heart health. 

Avocados

On average, avocados contain about 30 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein (more protein than any other fruit). Key nutrients include B vitamins, the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), and calcium.  Avocados have higher potassium content than bananas and also contain other minerals, such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and manganese.

Benefits:

  • Their high content of monosaturated fat (the ‘good’ fat) helps lower bad cholesterol and improves heart heath.
  • Aid in fatigue
  • The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) work together with the essential minerals (magnesium and zinc) to help regulate hormones and improve metabolic factors, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases
  • They are loaded with fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar, facilitate in proper bowel function, and aid in weight management
  • The high fiber content is also essential for digestion, as it helps increase nutrient absorption and nourish the gut lining
  • The phytonutrients (polyphenols and flavonoids) in avocados help reduce the risk of inflammatory and degenerative disorders, which affects every part of the body, including the joints, skin and connective tissues, heart, brain, and internal organ systems