There are foods and then there are Super Hero foods. In my book, a Super Hero food is one that goes above and beyond the call of duty. So many foods are healthy, but Super Heroes are nutritional powerhouses. This means they play an active role in your health, helping to prevent diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Eat your broccoli (and cauliflower and cabbage and Brussels sprouts)

Mom was right: broccoli is incredibly good for you. So are its relatives in the the cruciferous family: cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. These veggies are great cancer preventers. Researchers studying the compounds in these vegetables have found that there seems to be a two-pronged benefit: they work to prevent cancer from happening by ridding the body of carcinogenic compounds and stopping the growth of cancer cells; and also enhance survival after a cancer diagnosis.

All-stars include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, rutabaga, turnip greens, turnips and watercress.

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Add some seaweed

Sea vegetables are incredibly nutritious foods, some of which you probably already eat. Ever have sushi? Well, the black nori that wraps your sushi roll is a nutritious sea vegetable.

Sea vegetables pack a lot of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals in a low calorie punch. The nutrients they provide are vital for nerve and muscle function, energy production, thyroid health and bone strength. Sea vegetables in a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. They have anti-viral properties and help fight inflammation. Look for bags of wakame, dulse, nori, kombu and laver. While they're no-brainers at places like Healthfare and Whole Foods, you may also find them in the Asian or Natural Foods sections of your local supermarket. To enjoy:

Make a salad of wakame soaked in water until tender, mixed with chopped cucumber, dressed with a little rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce

Add dulse flakes to salads, soups or stir-fries. Dulse is also a good substitute for table salt.

Include a strip of kombu when you're cook dried beans to help tenderize them (and make the beans easier to digest!).

Roast strips of laver at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes until crisp and eat like potato chips.

Spice it up

Load up your foods with fresh ginger and powdered turmeric. Studies have shown that both are incredibly effective at reducing inflammation. Sometimes they even beat anti-inflammatory drugs. Why do we care about this? As we've learned, chronic inflammation can lead to a whole host of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Reducing this inflammation helps reduce our risk. Studies have also shown that both ginger and turmeric reduce the joint swelling and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Add grated fresh ginger to your favorite stir-fry or mashed sweet potatoes

Drop a slice of fresh ginger into your next cup of hot tea.

Curry powder contains turmeric, so hit your local Indian restaurant (like Thali)

Stir turmeric powder into cooked rice or sprinkle on top of hard boiled eggs

Have a cuppa

Tea has is rich in antioxidant polyphenols that have the ability to destroy cell-damaging free radicals. One look down the beverage aisle shows a huge variety of choices. There are five recognized forms of tea, all coming from the same plant species (Camellia sinensis). Fill up on those that are processed less, like white and green.

Tea is a liquid Super Hero Food if there ever was one. As is typically the case, it's not

enough to isolate one compound and take that in pill form. Give Mother Nature the

credit she's due and drink your tea to get the full benefits.

Ch- ch- ch- chia seeds

Raise your hand if you remember the Chia Pet commercials from the 70s and 80s. It turns out that the seeds used in this wildly popular product are Super Hero Foods.

Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids (making them anti-inflammatory superstars), fiber, calcium, protein and other nutrients.

These tiny seeds form a gel when mixed with a liquid. In addition to making it possible to coat a Chia Pet form so it would grow green sprouts, this little trick can also slow down digestion and conversion of the carbohydrates to sugar. This will keep you feeling full and keep your blood sugar steadier. Find them at your local health food store (like Healthfare). Add them to your breakfast cereal, yogurt, bean salads and so on.

And if you have any seeds left over, you can always pull your Chia Pet out of storage and give it a fresh green coat!

Lisa Corrado received her Master of Science in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and her Culinary Arts Diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education. She

makes busy people healthier by combining clinical nutrition with foods they love to eat. Contact Lisa at 203-972-3447 or Lisa@LisaCorradoNutrition.com. Visit her website at

www.LisaCorradoNutrition.com