The term “superfood” is frequently tossed around these days among the growing health conscious segment of society. It refers to foods high in nutrients that may confer health benefits, assuring you are getting the most from your diet. They share the characteristic of being unprocessed and though various sources will offer differing lists, the following info separates the truth from the marketing buzz.
Fruit and Nuts
Everyone agrees that blueberries are high in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C, lowering risk of inflammation, heart disease and cancer. They’re a good source of dietary fiber and iron – the more colour, the more antioxidants. Exotic acai and goji berries are particularly packed with vitamins and disease-fighting properties, especially within their pits, so mixing them into smoothies is a great way to easily digest them while sweetening up other ingredients. Other red berries and darker grapes contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical that protects against cancer-causing agents. Mangos, bananas and kiwis are full of valuable vitamins and minerals that promote health and digestion.
Nuts are snack satisfying and provide brain-boosting nutrition. Walnuts provide essential omega 3 fatty acids and new research has shown they even improve sperm quality. Coconuts are one of the highest sources of energy-providing electrolytes in nature. Their oil actually speeds up metabolism in the body. Raw cacao contains more concentrated antioxidants and hard-to-find magnesium than anything else, a great excuse to indulge in organic dark chocolate!
Green foods high in chlorophyll have proven beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response and cancer prevention. Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E and bone-building K, with plenty of fiber to help weight control. Spinach, kale, collard greens, and lettuce are loaded with magnesium, potassium and antioxidant phytochemicals.
One cup of carrot provides almost 600% of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, as well as vitamin C and selenium. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins, calcium and taste – adding one to a mix of regular potatoes reduces the need for other sweetening additives. Rhubarb tastes great in pies and has been championed for relieving hot flashes in menopausal women, among other benefits. Pumpkin and butternut squash are other great options in the dark orange vegetable category.
Grains and Seeds
The sacred Incan staple quinoa is considered a complete protein as it contains all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development. This mineral-rich, gluten-free grain is low in sodium and saturated fat. Buckwheat and millet have similar benefits, great for lowering cholesterol, hypertension and blood sugar. Chia seeds have nearly double the protein of other seeds and grains with high levels of calcium and potassium. Pumpkin seeds also make a healthy snack.
– Wild salmon and organic eggs have great omega 3s and protein
– Turmeric may ease aches and inflammation; Cinnamon may lower blood sugar according to clinical research
– Beans and lentils are full of nutrients, protein and antioxidants
– Yogurt or kefir provides healthy probiotics
– Green tea is a great antioxidant
– Tofu is protein-rich and cholesterol-lowering
– Seaweed purifies blood among many other benefits
Moderation is the key to a balanced diet, but keeping in mind these foods will benefit anyone interested in healthy eating or considering food safety certification.