By Rachel Cernansky, Planet Green
We all want to get the most out of what we eat, and a varied diet is always the best way to do that. That said, some foods pack more nutrients per punch than others—here is a look at some that bring the most potent benefits with minimal (for the most part) impact on the environment.
Tart cherries are thought to decrease risk of heart disease, alleviate arthritis pain and gout, and reduce inflammation. They have a few other healthful qualities to boast—plus, 95 percent of the cherries eaten in the U.S. are grown in the U.S., making them a super-eco-food.
Recipe: Cherry Pine Nut Cookies
It’s a powerful detoxifier, it is rich in chlorophyll, certain amino acids, vitamins and minerals, plus it’s been used to treat gastrointestinal issues, including peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, constipation, and diarrhea—and it’s easy to grow yourself, making it just about as local as you can get.
One cup has more than a day’s worth of vitamin K, and is rich in folate, vitamins A, C and B6, thiamin, niacin, tryptophan, and fiber. And the eco-bonus is that it’s another you’re likely to find growing closer to home than some of the other celebrated superfoods.
Recipe: Tofu Asparagus Stir-Fry
It’s the only complete-protein grain (that actually isn’t a grain at all), it contains iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, and fiber, and researchers are working throughout South America to make its cultivation more sustainable all the time.
Recipe: Tasty Toasted Quinoa Salad
A fish-free way to get those omega 3 fatty acids—growing flax is easier on the environment than fish farming, plus you avoid the nasty chemicals and toxins that make fish oil not such a great bargain.
They may help the body to burn fat.
Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
With 10 to 30 times the antioxidant content of wine and powerful neutralizing effect on free radicals in the body, acai has become one of the most well-known superfoods, and while it’s not grown locally, it is (with most companies, anyway) flash-frozen without chemicals, and is harvested in a sustainable manner by small independent farmers—meaning local economies benefit and the local environment is under good care.
Recipe: Acai Berry Blast Iced Tea