Eating Right: Put Nutrition Powerhouses in Your Grocery Cart

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You may be overlooking some of the healthiest items in the supermarket. Here are seven delicious foods that deserve a ride in your shopping cart.

Kiwifruit

Kiwi is a nutrient-dense fruit, high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It also contains lutein, which protects eyes from macular degeneration. To eat this luscious fruit, scoop the juicy flesh with a spoon, or top cereal and yogurt with sliced kiwifruit. Kiwis are a natural meat tenderizer; just mash and add to marinade.

Collard Greens

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend eating mild-flavored collard greens regularly to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. This vegetable lowers cholesterol by binding to cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestines, especially when the greens are steamed. Collard greens are also rich in phytochemicals that protect against cancer, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. To eat collard greens, just cook the vegetable fresh or frozen as you would spinach. Sauté in olive oil and garlic, add to soups and stews or use the cooked greens as a delicious pizza topping.

Sardines

These little fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that help prevent heart arrhythmias, lower triglycerides, slow the growth of atherosclerotic plaques and promote healthy brain cells. Canned sardines can be drained and served on crackers, added to pasta sauce and vegetable salads and used in dips. For a spicy dip, mix mashed sardines with mayonnaise, mustard, minced onion and hot sauce.

Bulgur

This form of whole wheat can be steamed or parboiled and cracked. Bulgur is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and substances that help cells fight off cancer, including antioxidants, lignans, phenols and phytoestrogens. Bulgur cooks in minutes. It's a key ingredient in tabbouleh, a tasty Middle Eastern salad. Use it in place of rice as a side dish, add it to meatloaf or cook it with dried fruit and cinnamon to make a hearty winter porridge.

Sweet Potatoes

For only about 100 calories, one medium-size sweet potato provides a four-day supply of vitamin A, plus vitamin C, potassium and fiber. To get the most fiber, keep the skin on. To eat, use like regular potatoes. To make oven fries, toss unpeeled sweet potato wedges in canola oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 450 F for 20 minutes.

Lentils

These legumes are a budget bargain and nutrition powerhouse, providing protein, fiber, iron and potassium. They are a low-fat substitute for meat. Because lentils don't require soaking and cook in about 15 minutes, they're a great way to get the recommended three servings of legumes a week. Fall is the perfect time for a hearty lentil soup. Add cooked lentils to pasta salad, or mix mashed lentils with seasonings to make a sandwich spread.

Blackberries

A cup of these berries—fresh or frozen— gives you half your day's requirement of vitamin C and a healthy 6 grams of fiber. Blackberries get their color from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that stop cancer-causing free radicals in their tracks. And they're easy to prepare. You can make a fruit compote with blackberries and sliced peaches or blend the berries with yogurt, banana and honey for an antioxidantrich breakfast smoothie.

Learn more about healthy food choices and Nutrition Counseling.