Clean Eating

THE 10 Healthiest FOODS OF THE YEAR

Source: Flip to page 48 to check out our expert dietitians, nutritionists and wellness chefs who voted on this year’s superfood picks!

1 | Matcha

CANCER PROTECTIVE. This brilliant green powder made from ground green tea leaves was originally served in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Because it’s made from the whole leaf, it contains more antioxidants than loose-leaf green tea. The most potent cancer-fighting compounds in green tea are a group of phenolic antioxidants that include epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). In studies, matcha in particular significantly reduced the risk of bladder cancer. Green tea also shows promise for protecting against breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, adult leukemia and liver cancer.

FLAVOR/TEXTURE: Grassy, slightly bitter flavor.

MORE USES: Matcha works well with creamy or bright accents, like pineapple, ginger and lemon; try puréeing matcha powder with coconut milk, ginger and honey and freezing in popsicle molds for a grown-up frozen treat. Or make mint matcha chocolate: Melt dark chocolate chips in a double boiler, stir in matcha and a few drops of mint extract, pour into candy molds and chill until firm. For a high-protein, raw-food treat, combine pistachios, cashews, dates, coconut flakes, hemp or brown rice protein powder and matcha, then process into a paste, form into balls and dredge in additional matcha powder.

2 | Radicchio

VISION SUPPORT. Also known as Italian or red chicory, this brilliantly colored lettuce looks like a small cabbage. A cup of raw radicchio has only 9 calories, with nearly 130% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin K. And the vibrant color is not only visually appealing but also healthy for the eyes: The purple-red hue comes from its abundance of zeaxanthin and lutein, phenolic antioxidants that protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Zeaxanthin and lutein also help to protect the vision process, improve visual acuity and protect against cataracts and age-related blindness. Additionally, zeaxanthin appears to prevent the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina.

FLAVOR/TEXTURE: Radicchio has a soft texture and gently bitter bite that mellows when it’s cooked.

MORE USES: Toss shredded radicchio with quinoa, pecans, edamame, dried cranberries, feta cheese and olive oil and serve in individual radicchio leaf “cups.” Radicchio is delicious grilled or braised: Cut heads into quarters, leaving core attached, then brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and minced rosemary and grill over medium-high heat until tender. It also pairs well with nuts and dried fruit: Tear radicchio into bite-size pieces and toss with baby arugula, fresh or dried figs and toasted walnuts; dress with a walnut vinaigrette.

3 | Teff

A tiny gluten-free, grain-like seed from Ethiopia, teff is rich in nutrients, including calcium, zinc, magnesium, protein and especially iron. This trace element is critical for making hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen to cells; deficiencies can cause anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, infections and heart problems. Because teff is so high in iron, it can significantly improve iron levels in the blood. In fact, researchers believe the generally high resistance and fitness of Ethiopian runners is due in part to their consumption of iron-rich teff.

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