Surprisingly Healthy Everyday Superfoods

Read enough about superfoods like pomegranates and acai juice, and you get the impression that more ordinary fruits and vegetables aren't quite so super. That would be a mistake.

The latest nutritional science has established that some of the most humdrum-sounding produce, usually relegated to comfort food status -- peas, corn, white potatoes, white button mushrooms, and kidney beans -- contain some of the best calories on the planet. Notes Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., author of "Energy to Burn," "Modern medicine is reaffirming what our grandparents told us was inherently good for us."

White Button Mushrooms

Bad Rap
"I think of them as the Rodney Dangerfield of produce -- they don't get the respect they deserve," says nutritionist Heidi Skolnik, M.S., coauthor of "The Reverse Diet."

Stealth Health Rx: Disease-Fighting Fungus
The mushroom is a nutritional mother lode -- a great source of vitamin D (important for bone health), B vitamins (key for heart health), and minerals like potassium and zinc.

When it comes to disease-fighting phytonutrient compounds, a French research team recently discovered the humble white button mushroom delivers as much or more antioxidant power than pricier exotics like shiitakes and maitakes.

Plus: 20 Power Foods You Should be Eating


Bad Rap
Corn has been unfairly tarred because of its association with the high-fructose syrup industrially derived from it.

Stealth Health Rx: Surprise Antioxidant Agent
A high-fiber package prevents the sugars in corn from being absorbed too quickly by the body and causing a spike in blood sugar. B vitamins and vision-protecting lutein round out the nutritional perks.

In a 2004 study, Cornell researchers found that whole grains, including corn, had higher levels of antioxidant compounds more available to the body in bound form (versus the free form found in fruits and veggies). By this method of measurement, corn delivers more than twice the antioxidant punch of spinach or broccoli.

Plus: Easy Summer Corn Recipes


Bad Rap
Potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the U.S., but they're mostly eaten as saturated-fat-tastic fries and potato chips; even when baked, they're often slathered in butter and sour cream.

Stealth Health Rx: Super Starch
Strip away the condiments, and baked or boiled potatoes are about as nutritious as food gets. Even the middle of a white russet potato is loaded with vitamins B6 and C, potassium, fiber, and a host of phytonutrients.

They're so satisfying. In 1995, an Australian researcher developed a satiety index and determined boiled white potatoes to be the most filling food.


Bad Rap
Common wisdom dictates that they're starchy, and most of us grew up eating the canned kind -- not exactly a recipe for fresh taste.

Stealth Health Rx: Protein and Fiber Powerhouse
At 117 calories per cup, you get a fabulous nutritional package: one-sixth of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for the average U.S. female; a generous mix of vitamins C and B; plenty of fiber; plus vitamin K1 (crucial for bone health) and minerals like manganese, potassium, and iron.

Antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in peas have been proven to protect the eyes against age-related decline in vision.

Kidney Beans

Bad Rap
While lentils scream, "Health-food store!" the forgotten kidney bean is often buried in soups, chiles, and three-bean salads.

Stealth Health Rx: Heart-Friendly Legumes
Kidney beans (like pinto, navy, and black beans) are high in fiber, practically nonfat, and when combined with a whole grain like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta, make a dish that comes close to the protein content of red meat or dairy. In a 1999 epidemiological study that tracked 13,000 male subjects over 25 years, eating more legumes was associated with as much as an 82 percent reduction in the risk of dying from heart disease.

The complex carbs in kidney beans provide a slow, steady stream of energy. "I'm always amazed that when I use beans in a dish," says nutritionist Ellie Krieger, R.D., "the nutritional value skyrockets."

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