If you’re looking to spring clean your vegan diet and get on a summer slimdown mission, start by including these five vegan superfoods in your everyday meals. Nutrient-dense, low in calories, and exceptionally versatile, these healthy vegan foods can be noshed as a snack or enjoyed as part of your vegan breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals.
5 Vegan superfoods you should be eating
The ancient super grain quinoa is packed with protein (about 9 grams per cup), fiber (5 grams per cup), potassium, manganese, magnesium, and iron. With its whole grain goodness, quinoa can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and even help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. Eat quinoa as hot cereal in the morning, toss it with veggies as a salad, or serve it warm with nuts and dried fruit for a vegan dinner side dish.
All berries offer a tasty bevy of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that fight cancer and heart disease, but blueberries (particularly wild blueberries) are the most antioxidant-rich and readily available pick. Fresh or frozen, blueberries can also boost your brain power and eye health, ward off premature aging, and promote digestive health. Blueberries can be pureed into smoothies or fruit sauce, tossed into grain or green salads, and baked into muffins, quickbreads, and cakes or simply noshed as a berry good vegan snack.
Part of the Brassica family, broccoli joins the other crucifers, which include cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, in being a powerful cancer-fighting vegetable. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K as well as beta-carotene and fiber while being low in calories. Broccoli ranks high as a flavorful, diet-friendly food. You can eat broccoli raw, lightly steamed, stir-fried, roasted, or even grilled. Try it in tofu scrambles, salads, soups, stews, on pizza, pureed into a pesto, or eaten simply as a vegan side dish.
These richly flavored fruits are a concentrated source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as iron, vitamin E, fiber, and copper. Olives offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties associated with anti-aging and a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, and even menopausal symptoms. Olives can be eaten right out of the jar, included in vegan scrambles, tossed in rice and pasta dishes, added to salads and sautes, or chopped into tapenades. In addition, olive oil is exceptionally heart-healthy and should be part of your everyday meals as a cooking oil, finishing oil, or part of your salad dressings and vinaigrettes.
5. Flax seed (ground)
One of the best plant sources of omega-3s, flax seed comes in whole, ground, and oil forms. The body can’t digest whole seeds so grind seed as you need it. Ground flax offers healthy fats, fiber, and phytonutrients that are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The earthy, nutty flavor of ground flax goes well in baked goods but can also be sprinkled over cereal, salads, or whirred into smoothies. You can also mix ground flax with water to replace eggs in baked good recipes (1 tablespoon flax:3 tablespoons water are equivalent to 1 egg). Flax oil can be used as the base for salad dressings or drizzled on finished vegan dishes; flax oil is too delicate to be used as a cooking oil.