These foods are featured in the January issue of Dr. Andrew Weil's newsletter, "Self Healing," which is a sister publication to Body+Soul magazine and a terrific resource for information on current trends in health, medicine, and well-being.
Hemp comes from the same plant (cannabis sativa) as marijuana, but lacks its intoxicating properties. The seeds do have an impressive fatty acid profile, providing alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3) as well as stearadonic acid, currently studied by scientists because it's efficiently used by the body to produce EPA, an omega-3 found in fish. Enjoy hemp seeds lightly toasted: Place them in a dry skillet over medium-high heath, stir until they pop and turn light brown, and then season to taste.
Tip: Add a sprinkle of soy sauce, red pepper, and garlic powder
These berries don't need refrigeration; blueberries and other dried berries are a convenient antioxidant source. Goji berries are a relatively new and exotic source of beneficial plant compounds.
Dulse's nutrients include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and trace elements of iodine and zinc. Dulse (which rhymes with pulse) is one of the easiest varieties to try. Its chewy texture and mildly salty flavor make it good for snacking, right out of the bag. It also works well in soups and salads. You'll find it in the Asian section of natural-food stores.
Hazelnuts contain more folate and antioxidant proanthocyanidins than any other tree nut. And like other nuts, they provide vitamin E and monosaturated fats, making them heart-healthy choices. Add them to salads and rice dishes, or enjoy them on their own as a snack.
Popular in many Asian cuisines, these small red beans, also called aduki or azuki, have a sweet, nutty flavor. They cook quickly, offer a high dose of protein, and contain easily digestible sugars that won't cause gas and bloating. I use them in many dishes, including my vegetarian chili. Find them at natural-food stores and Asian markets.
This hearty whole grain, a type of wheat from antiquity, hails from ancient Mesopotamia and can replace rice in pilafs and risottos. A standout source of fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, it's also low in gluten and digests slowly.
Watch for sardines at your local fish counter; fresh varieties are increasingly available throughout the United States. They provide omega-3 fats, and as small, vegetarian fish, they contain fewer contaminants than bigger fish. Prepare sardines simply: Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, grill, and serve with lemon. Fresh sardines taste much better than canned ones.
These root vegetables are also underappreciated, probably because most people haven't eaten parsnips prepared properly. Root vegetables offer an array of nutrients, and their low glycemic load prevents spikes in blood sugar. Tip: Toss bite-size pieces with olive oil, season with fresh herbs to taste, and roast at 400 degrees until tender and browned.
Special thanks to Dr. Weil for sharing these "8 Fantastic Food" picks and for giving our studio audience gift baskets filled with healthy Dr. Weil products. Dr. Weil's after-tax proceeds on these products benefit the Weil Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting integrative medicine in the United States by funding the training of physicians and other practitioners, public education, research, innovations in patient care, and policy reform.