Real food means food that’s closer to nature: whole grains rather than processed chips or crackers from a box, whole fruit rather than juice or fruit bars. That includes a wide variety of “super fruits” — apples, stone fruits, berries, tomatoes. Plus, if you eat produce locally and in season, it will have reached its peak and hold more nutrients, says Sass.
5. Choose the right energy bars.
When choosing an energy bar, ignore what’s on the front of the package and check the ingredients list, says Sass: “If the ingredients read like a recipe, and I feel like I could buy the ingredients and make it myself, that’s great. If it reads like a science experiment, with ingredients that aren’t real whole foods, I’ll pass.”
6. Don’t zap fat.
“You need fat to absorb some key antioxidants,” says Sass. In one study that compared salads served with fat-free, low-fat and full-fat dressing, people absorbed fewer antioxidants from the veggies when they ate fat-free dressing. The reason: Some antioxidants have to grab onto fat in order to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood, where they can go to work. Antioxidants are important for energy because they flight free radicals and keep your cells healthy, Sass adds.
7. Choose frozen foods.
While fresh and local is great, frozen foods are a potent source of energizing nutrients too. “Freezing actually locks in nutrients, so a frozen fruit with no added ingredients can be just as nutritious or even more than fresh, unless the fresh was just picked,” Sass says. “The minute a fruit or veggie is harvested, it starts to lose nutrients.”
(Health delivers relevant information in clear, jargon-free language that puts health into context in peoples’ lives. Online at www.health.com.)
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