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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 Healthiest Spring Superfoods

1. Beets
Whether you eat them cooked, raw or juiced, beets are nutritional powerhouses chockfull of cancer-fighting antioxidants and potassium. Plus, they're high in folate and iron , both important nutrients during pregnancy. Beet fiber is great for improving bowel function and cholesterol. And according to a study from the American Heart Association, beet juice may help lower blood pressure.

2. Asparagus
These delicate green stalks are nutrient superheroes. Asparagus is packed with vitamin K, important for strong, healthy bones; vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps keep the eyes, heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs healthy; and thiamin, which helps maintain brain and liver function. It's low in calories and carbs, too: One cup has only 27 calories, more than a quarter of which are from protein.

3. Strawberries
This deliciously sweet fruit is a great choice for spring. Strawberries are a rich source of phenolic antioxidants, which have been found to help reverse inflammation, aid in weight loss and protect against heart disease. They're also loaded with vitamin C, which promotes immunity, folate and fiber. What's even better? Strawberries are super low in calories -- only 49 calories per cup.

4. Artichokes
Artichokes are a great addition to your spring menu. Because of their ability to lower blood lipids, they're a great food for preventing heart disease. Fresh artichokes are high in a carbohydrate called inulin, which has been shown to improve blood sugar in people with diabetes. Plus, artichokes are high in lutein, which can help prevent the devastating effects of macular degeneration. They can even help ease stomach problems like bloating and gassiness. You get all that nutritional goodness with very few calories: One medium-size artichoke has just 60 fat-free calories.

5. Arugula
The next time you make a salad, skip the iceberg lettuce and go for arugula instead. It's got eight times the calcium, five times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K and four times the amount of iron. Like other cruciferous vegetables, arugula contains glucosinolates, which lab studies suggest may fight cancer. A review of 31 studies found that people who ate the most cruciferous vegetables decreased their risk of lung cancer by 17-23%. Try arugula raw or tossed with olive oil and lemon. Or pile it on top of pasta or pizza. 

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