Superfoods are sexy. Given a choice, I’m sure you’d go with goji or acai berries over yogurt or potatoes. But really, does something being dressed up and labeled make it better?
Not really. In fact, if you really want what you need, nutrition might get about as boring as it gets.
I don’t mean the flavors. I’m talking about the stuff you’re used to. The foods that have been showing up en masse at grocery stores for your entire life, which seem as common as Ford on the road, are packed with nutrients you need to survive.
The US Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA recently released their dietary guidelines for Americans. In it, they identified four essential nutrients that many Americans are simply not getting enough of.
Most are found in foods that won’t be trending.
The essential nutrients where many Americans are falling short are calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin D. Each of these nutrients plays essential roles in a multitude of human health markers and have the ability to contribute to a healthy future.
Calcium: Women should aim for 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day, while men should look for 1,000 mg. It can help preserve and manufacture bone to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone breaks.
You can find high servings of calcium in plain yogurt and other dairy products as well as cooked spinach.
Potassium: Potassium is a valuable electrolyte that helps promote a healthy heartbeat and blood pressure and potentially contributes to a lower risk of heart attack or stroke. Dietary guidelines suggest 2,600 mg per day for women and 3.400 mg per day for men.
There are good servings of potassium in baked potatoes (with skin), lima beans, bananas, and skipjack tuna.
Fiber: Fiber is a major nutrient that contributes to health in several ways. It promotes digestive health while also playing a substantial role in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart health.
Women should aim for 22-28 grams (g) per day, while men should shoot for 28-34 g. It is found in fruit, whole grains, and vegetables.
Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” also plays a role in a multitude of health factors, potentially ranging from your bones to your brain and beyond. It’s not easy to get enough from food like salmon, yogurt, eggs, and fortified foods, so supplementation may be required.
The sunlight is the best source, so getting a little bit (15-40 minutes depending on complexion) each day is worthwhile.
Superfoods don’t have to be sexy. Sometimes you’ve got to bring it back to the basics.