Superfoods You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

It can be tough to eat right on a dancer’s schedule, so “it’s important to eat foods that will give you the most nutrients back,” says registered dietician Marie Scioscia, who works with dancers at The Ailey School.

You probably already try to make good cuisine choices, but you might be missing out on some great foods simply because you’ve never heard of them. These “superfoods” aren’t as common as your favorite healthy fare, but they can easily complement things you’ve already got on your plate. Check your local health food and grocery stores to find these unsung diet heros. 

Goji Berries

One ounce of goji berries will give you about 180 percent of your recommended daily value (RDV) of vitamin A, 30 percent of your RDV of vitamin C and 15 percent of your RDV of iron. The tart berries also contain betaine, a natural chemical compound that helps calm nerves, enhances memory and promotes muscle growth—perfect for young dancers.

How to eat them:
•    You can eat goji berries raw by the handful or stir them into your morning cereal.
•    Drop a few berries into your tea while it steeps for an added burst of flavor.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has a rich, creamy texture and tastes tangier than regular yogurt. It has about twice as much protein per serving as regular yogurt, which will help keep your bones and muscles strong. Plus, its concentrated levels of vitamins B6 and B12 and magnesium promote intestinal and vaginal health and help cure bacterial infections.

How to eat it:
•Stir a handful of whole-grain cereal into six ounces of yogurt for a snack that will keep you feeling fuller longer.
•Mix Greek yogurt with fat-free sour cream, milk, dried oregano leaves and garlic to make a low-sodium salad dressing.

Almond Butter

Almond butter is high in protein, and it has minerals and monounsaturated fat, which lower blood pressure. The sweet and smooth spread tastes similar to peanut butter, but it has twice as much iron, more than double the amount of vitamin E and eight times as much calcium.

How to eat it:
•    Spread two tablespoons on whole-wheat bread for a sandwich that will last all day in your dance bag.
•    Almond butter tastes delicious with apple slices or celery.

Turkey Pepperoni

This lunchtime alternative has a whopping 70 percent less fat and 50 percent less saturated fat than regular pepperoni. One serving (17 pieces!) contains only 70 calories but has a substantial 5 grams of protein, which will keep your energy up through long rehearsal days. Turkey pepperoni tastes like ordinary pepperoni, and it’s a great substitute for higher-fat foods like sausage, hamburger and most lunch meats.

How to eat it:
•    Build a filling sandwich by placing a few pieces of turkey pepperoni on wheat bread and adding lettuce, tomato and sprouts.
•    Create a healthy pizza by toasting a whole-wheat English muffin topped with a dollop of tomato sauce, low-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni.

Quinoa

Photo by iStock

Technically a seed, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has a slightly nutty taste. It’s a whole grain that’s rich in iron, which helps prevent anemia—a chronic disorder that can cause serious fatigue. Quinoa also contains more protein than rice or wheat, making it a great option for vegan or vegetarian dancers.

How to eat it:
•    Cook quinoa like rice and add it to a cold salad.
•    Try a quinoa-rich breakfast cereal like Orgran Multigrain O’s with Quinoa.

Turmeric is a super spice!

According to the American Cancer Society, it has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle the peppery, gingery spice on eggs or veggies for a warm, earthy flavor.

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