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Ahead of the Curve: Super-foods

Check out these six things you should look for in restaurants or grocery stores.

BY August 9, 2013

When it comes to getting all the needed vitamins and minerals, we haven’t advanced much farther than The Flintstones. I’m talking about the fruity kids’ multivitamin, but Fred and Barney’s peers at the rock quarry aren’t too far off. Sure, we all take that daily multivitamin. Or at least we mean to. But we also know that it would be better if we supercharged the food we eat.

So we asked one of the smartest nutritionists we know, Betsy Opyt, owner of Health Concepts Consulting, to share with us some foods we
can find at the grocery store or in restaurants that will give us a little extra kick.

Perhaps Opyt’s favorite super-food is something we are all likely familiar with, just probably not from eating it. You might remember the unassuming chia seed from the Chia Pet you grew in your bedroom window. Little did you know just how good those little seeds were for you.

“They are high in three key nutritional components,” Opyt says. “First, they have a lot of omega-3s, which is a great thing for people who are vegan. Two tablespoons have as much calcium as a glass of milk, and they have tons of fiber.”

Opyt puts the seeds on just about everything and even sells a peanut butter with chia seed mixed in. You can find them pretty easily at most organic markets, including Whole Foods and Food and Thought in Naples.

Another weird thing Opyt adds to salads is nutritional yeast. Although it looks a little like fish food, she swears to us that it tastes just like nacho
cheese and adds a nice crunch. “And, it’s extremely high in vitamin B-12, which is tough to get for vegetarians and vegans and a lot of older people
are often deficient in.” Look for this in the health food aisles at the organic stores and some supplement stores.

When you are out dining, finding super-foods can be a challenge. Opyt often tells her clients that the garnish of parsley or kale is the most nutritionally balanced thing on their plates. But she noted that the newly opened restaurant The Local is serving up a fantastic salad that happens to be about as nutritionally dense as you can get—a kale Caesar.

“Kale has just about everything,” she says. “There’s some folic acid, anti-oxidants, some calcium. It’s a great source of so many vitamins and minerals.”

And if you want to juice up that salad, or any other at your favorite local establishments, Opyt has two suggestions—walnuts and avocado. The former is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health, while the latter is heavy in monounsaturated fat, which also helps keep cholesterol down.

Her final suggestion might seem counterintuitive—skip the salmon. While she says that wild salmon is still the super-food you have always heard about, most of what is being sold in restaurants now is farm raised. In its place, she suggests the humble tilapia, which is high in B-12 and low in mercury.

If Opyt’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she was one of the cover models for our May issue.

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