Last month, I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Mehmet Oz at the Food for Your Whole Life health symposium in New York City. He shared his top trending superfoods and why we should eat more of them.
Most people assume that all nuts are full of fat but Dr. Oz says choose healthier nuts. While many nuts do have a high fat content, most of it comes in the form of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Nuts can also be very nutrient-dense and an excellent source of protein. The key is to replace high carbohydrate snacks with nuts – forgo the bag of chips for a handful of crunchy nuts instead. Remember portion control: two ounces a day is all you need. Also, eating nuts 20 minutes before a meal can help curb your appetite, preventing overeating.
Walnuts are one of the best plant sources with essential fatty acids such as omega-3. They can help reduce the effects of aging on the brain, improve cardiovascular health, and they’re also purported to help ward off Alzheimer’s.
Almonds are prized for their high vitamin E and fibre content. They’re also packed with many other good minerals and nutrients. Eating almonds has been proven to lower cholesterol and may help in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Pistachios have the fewest calories per ounce of other tree nuts. They are a rich source of antioxidants and may help fight heart disease. Pistachios may also promote the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive tract, leading to good gut health.
Brazil nuts may have the highest amount of saturated fat than all other nuts, but they’re also packed with good nutrients like zinc, magnesium and the essential mineral, selenium – known to improve the immune system and may help protect against some cancers, such as prostate cancer. In fact, 1 brazil nut contains enough selenium for your daily recommended intake.
Try it: Spicy and sweet nuts, superfood burger, sesame scallops with pistachio brown rice and swiss chard with brazil nuts.
Dr. Oz keeps a supply of his favourite walnuts in his office for snacking. Keeping to his Turkish roots, Dr. Oz likes to soak his walnuts in water, which changes the texture and removes any bitterness from the walnut (co-author and writing partner, Dr. Michael Roizen, shared Dr. Oz’s secret recipe with us).
Dr. Oz’s recipe for Turkish walnuts
1. Fill a large bowl with water, then add walnuts. Cover bowl with a tea towel. Soak walnuts for about 4 hours. Rinse walnuts and discard water.
2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Arrange rinsed walnuts on paper towels. Let stand until walnuts are dry. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.
Dr. Oz highly recommends adding spices to your meals as a flavour alternative to salt and sugar. Many spices have medicinal properties, and incorporating them into your diet does double duty: they make your food taste great and you get the added health benefits.
This sweet spice is purported to have “insulin-like effects,” helping to reduce blood sugar levels in your body, and particularly beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. It may also help reduce cholesterol. Dr. Oz recommends including 1 tsp a day in your meals for effectiveness.
Try it: Cinnamon quinoa with dates, chili-cinnamon pork with pineapple.
Used as a fresh root or ground spice, it’s many benficial properties include: improved circulation and blood flow, reduced cholesterol, and soothing for indigestion and nausea troubles. Ginger also contains several compounds that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that may protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Try it: Sticky honey-ginger chicken, honey-ginger tofu, fiery snow peas, spicy Thai fish.
This spice contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which gives it its signature bright yellow colour. In addition, curcumin may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Dr. Oz also suggests that turmeric helps to clear out brain-clogging proteins, which may be effective in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Try it: Yellow curry paste in curried chicken noodles, grilled Turkish chicken, turmeric new potatoes, spice-encrusted pork.
According to Dr. Oz, this spice is a “miracle” appetite suppressant, helping you feel satiated and giving you that feeling of fullness. It also contains crocin, a powerful antioxidant that may help fight against cancer cells. Though expensive, cooking with just a little bit of saffron can go a long way.
Try it: Seafood saffron risotto with fennel, chicken mulligatawny soup, bouillabaisse or jewelled rice.
Click here for more information on healthy spices to add to your recipes.