We all know the importance of eating our fruits and veggies, and penciling in daily exercise, even if it’s nothing more than a brisk walk. There are plenty of antioxidant-filled, heart-healthy indulgences we can treat ourselves to, to help boost our health and beauty from the inside out in 2011. Here are 10 you might not have thought of.
1. Rooibos Tea – So powerful that a high-end skincare line, Goldfaden, was developed entirely around this potent tea’s invigorating properties. Rooibos, more widely known as red tea, has been shown in studies to help with everything from headaches and insomnia to facial redness and irritability. Numi’s roobios is a favorite because it’s Fair Trade, organic and made without artificial oils and flavorings; it’s also filled with plenty of minerals including iron, calcium, and potassium, all of which are essential for healthy skin.
2. Kale Chips – Despite what the French may say (on a recent trip to Paris I was repeatedly confronted with ads proclaiming “snacking is bad for your health”), snacking can be a great thing; if you’re indulging in raw vegan kale chips, you will feel great! Air-dried at 115 degrees, the chips are high in fiber, high in nutrients, and if you didn’t tell a Nacho-addict that they were vegetables, odds are they wouldn’t know they were eating something chock full of vitamins.
3. Flax – One of the best sources of omega-3 for vegetarians, flax balances insoluble and soluble fiber to help keep you full, and ease digestion. You can sprinkle it on anything from yogurt to salad for some texture (think of it as a pine nut alternative) or opt for Flax Snacks like the handmade, raw and gluten-free ones from Go Raw. Note: the “pizza” flavored snacks, believe it or not, actually taste like pizza!
4. Dried Berries – Dried fruits are great, but it’s easy to overdose, and with a relatively high amount of sugar, you want to make sure you’re getting the most nutrition possible out of your mulberries, goldenberries, and goji berries. Nearly or completely fat, sodium, and cholesterol free, all these dried fruits are rich in iron, protein, minerals, and vitamin A (notably Goji). Navitas Naturals, a brand focused on organic superfoods, is one of the best purveyors of the superfruits, which go wonderfully in everything from smoothies to pancakes. Note that all the aforementioned dried berries also happen to be high in resveratrol, an antioxidant known for its anti-aging properties.
5. Raw Bars – Raw foodies often say that the lifestyle works because you can eat as much as you want, without seeing an impact on your waistline. The reasoning is that because nothing is heated over 115 degrees, everything being consumed has its maximum nutritional value, all of which can be efficiently utilized by the body. To that end, when reaching for nutritional boosts, reach for guilt-free raw ones like Apple Pie or Carrot Cake Lara Bars. All of the non-chocolate chip Lara Bars options are raw and vegan, but another option is Raw Organic Food Bars from Organic Food which are prepared fresh daily with no refined sugar, hydrogenated oils or any of the other skin-clogging ingredients found in traditional food bars.
6. Oolong Tea – While there are no quick-fix solutions to clear your skin and achieve a slimmer waistline, women in Japan and China have sworn by oolong tea for centuries because of its ability to increase metabolism, burn fat via lipolysis (a process that breaks down lipids), and block dietary fat absorption. So, if you’re going to chow down on some greasy fries, at the very least, follow it with some oolong!
7. Arctic Zero – A high-fiber, high-protein 150-calorie pint of ice cream? Seems too good to be true. In addition, it’s not made with artificial sweeteners and dozens of unpronounceable ingredients! Prior to discovering Arctic Zero, I would have said it was impossible. As hard as it may be to believe, the light goodness that is Arctic Zero not only tastes good (like ice cream, not like sugary, chemical-latent water), but it can actually aid with digestion and comes without the high cholesterol, fat, and sugar effects of your run-of-the-mill Ben & Jerry’s. The low calorie frozen snack comes in a variety of flavors (Pumpkin Spice, Coffee, Vanilla Maple, and Chocolate Peanut Butter are arguably the best), all of which are natural, gluten-free, fat-free, and made with whey protein so those that are lactose intolerant won’t take issue.
8. Chia Seeds – Remember those chia pets touted on infomercials? Well, the same seeds that made for the 90s cult plants happen to hold high nutritional value. They can be added to anything from a salad to yogurt for a protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin B, and omega-3 boost, and studies have shown that they help with digestion and with blood sugar and blood pressure regulation.
9. Coconut Water – Unlike coconut milk, coconut water is high in potassium and antioxidants without also being high in calories and fat. Great for everything from workout hydration to a hangover cure, look for coconut water to start giving sports drinks a serious run for their money in 2011.
10. Raw Chocolate – Whether in the form of straight-up chocolate (like Sacred Chocolate), or cookies, brownies, and cakes (nothing can top Blue Mountain Organics’ delectable options), raw chocolate is the closest you can come to enjoying cacao right from the tree (yes, it’s light years better for you than dark chocolate). Raw cacao is sun-dried instead of roasted, minimally processed, and chock full of magnesium and iron, both of which are essential for flexibility and strength. Add some yoga to your raw chocolate intake, and you’ll be set for 2011!