UNC Health Talk

10 Power Foods

Woman tired at computer keyboard
Feeling run down? Try these 10 power foods to keep you energized.

Do you sometimes feel as if you need super powers just to get you through a busy day? Good nutrition is one way to help you stay energized and healthy. The right food choices help prevent chronic disease, keep cholesterol low and provide energy. Try to include in your diet these 10 foods that pack a power punch:

  1. Apples. Recent studies indicate that the apple’s peel provides most of the fruit’s anticancer and antioxidant benefits. So, put down the paring knife and take a big bite into a Gala, a Granny Smith or a Red Delicious, or bake a big Rome beauty for dessert.
  2. bowl of Blueberries
    Berries: a very powerful food indeed

    Berries. Research shows that a half-cup of blueberries a day may help improve balance, coordination and short-term memory. And ruby-red strawberries deliver vitamin C and fiber for a bargain level of calories (3 grams fiber and 43 calories per cup).

  3. Fish. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, also known as essential fatty acids, help prevent blood clots and heart attacks and improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol. Key omega-3s are found in salmon and tuna.
  4. Flaxseed. In one study, postmenopausal women who ate ground flaxseed every day had reduced levels of hormones associated with breast cancer. Ground flax also contains fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. To flex your flax muscle, look for frozen waffles that contain flax or head to the health food store for ground seeds that you can bake into muffins or quick breads or sprinkle over cereal.
  5. Grape juice. Its disease-fighting antioxidants, called flavonoids, have been shown to prevent clogged arteries and blood clots.
  6. Greens. Dark green veggies like collard greens, spinach and broccoli deliver fiber and may help protect bones.
  7. Milk. Its cool dose of calcium helps prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis. Other good calcium sources: yogurt, reduced-fat cheeses and sardines or canned salmon.
  8. bowl of mixed nuts
    Nuts; the protein-packed power house

    Nuts. As long as you don’t overdo it, these crunchy, protein-packed powerhouses can be a smart addition to your diet. They’ll keep you going a lot longer than the empty calories in a candy bar. And a recent study found that people who ate nuts regularly had 50 percent fewer heart attacks than people who didn’t. For 150 to 190 calories, bank on 12 pecan halves, 14 walnut halves or 27 almonds.

  9. Soy. This won’t relieve everybody’s hot flashes, but studies show that up to 20 percent of women find it helpful. And substituting soy protein for meat-via veggie burgers or meatless breakfast links, for example-will significantly reduce the saturated fat you consume, a good step for heart health. Research also suggests that soy foods may keep arteries flexible and bones stronger.
  10. Whole grains. High intakes of fiber-rich whole grains, such as oatmeal and whole-grain breads, reduce blood lipids and decrease the risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Studies show that postmenopausal women who eat more than one serving of whole-grain products daily decrease their heart-disease risk by about one-third.