What can superfoods do for you? Hippocrates wrote, “Let food be thy medicine,” and nearly all health professionals will tell you that what you eat matters. When you eat the “wrong foods,” not only are you getting all sorts of things that aren’t good for your body like excessive sugar and chemical additives, you are also crowding out good foods and the essential nutrients they offer. Sure you can occasionally indulge in that fast food meal or sweet treat, however, you need to make sure your daily diet is packed with nature’s super foods in order to feel your best. Putting all of the superfoods into your food rotation will help you develop a taste for the foods that are best for your body and give you all the nutrients you need for optimal health.
What is a super food? No, it’s not an unhappy meal with an action figure toy included. By definition, superfoods are calorie sparse and nutrient dense meaning they pack a real punch for their weight as far as nutritional value is concerned. The best of the best super foods are excellent sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients that our bodies require but cannot make on their own. The superfood category is populated mainly by fruits and vegetables. We all may be trying to add more salads and vegetables to our diets, but if your idea of eating your vegetables is a wedge of iceberg lettuce smothered in bleu cheese dressing and bacon, tasty as it may be, you are not getting the most from your diet.
Think of your body as a well-designed automobile. It needs the right fuel, maybe it’s premium or maybe just regular gas, but dumping a bunch of sugar and junk into the tank isn’t going to help that car perform. So go ahead and indulge once in awhile, but pack your diet with these nutritionally supercharged standards every day for a great mix of what best fuels your body.
Certainly, there are far more than ten superfoods. In fact, nearly every brightly colored fruit and vegetable qualifies as a super food, as do many nuts, seeds and beans. The health benefits of each one of these super foods could fill an entire book. These ten are a great jumping off point and easy to find room for in your diet.
1. Bright Berries Bring Big Benefits
Blueberries lead the pack but all berries have a lot to offer in terms of antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients. Anthocyanins are a group of phytochemicals that lend berries their colourful hues. In controlled studies, anthocyanins have been shown to inhibit growth of some cancers. Ellagic acid is another important phytochemical present in nearly all berries. Ellagic acid has demonstrated the ability to block the metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer and a potential to inhibit the development of some cancers.
2. Something’s Fishy – Salmon & Sardines
Salmon and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that have been shown to lower your risk of heart disease. Sardines also offer significant amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and selenium, and calcium.
3. Crucifers: Your Mom Was Right, Eat Your Broccoli
Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, turnips and a few others contain alkaloids that may help prevent cancer. Adding to their nutritional stats, they contain a plethora of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables have also shown a number of brain boosting benefits that may stave off age related brain disease.
4. Go Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds have been positively linked to a dramatic decrease in one’s risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Nuts are tasty and satisfying and a great way to boost the superfood stats on your breakfast oatmeal or afternoon salad. Pistachios, walnuts and almonds are among the big winners nutritionally but a wide variety of foods will best round out your superfood choices.
5. The Stinky 6
Onions, Garlic, Chives, Leeks, Shallots and Scallions belong to the allium family and contain flavonoids enhance the elimination of many toxins and carcinogens within your body making them incredibly beneficial in the prevention of cancer. Vegetables from the allium family offer a host of other benefits related to heart disease including lower total cholesterol and elevated HDL (the good) cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, lowered risk of atherosclerosis and the risk of blood clots. These superfoods have also been shown to destroy infection-causing viruses and bacteria and diminish the risk of certain cancers.
6. A Tomato A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a formidable antioxidant shown to assist in stimulating the immune system and help lower your risk of certain cancers. Lycopene is available in higher levels from cooked tomato products including tomato sauce and even ketchup.
7. Beans & Lentils
Lentils and beans offer a variety of preventive health attributes. Beans are naturally low in fat and cholesterol and they are a good source of iron, phosphorus, thiamine, manganese and folate. Beans are high in protein and high in complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre and offer modest amounts of EFAs. Beans are especially beneficial to fight against diabetes as they rank low on the glycemic scale, meaning they do not cause the inflammatory, hunger-inducing spike in blood sugar levels commonly associated with refined grains. Lentils have many of the same benefits with a reduced cooking time making them easier to incorporate into your everyday eating.
8. True Whole Grains Have Much to Offer
Whole grains can said in stabilising blood sugar and insulin levels and may even lower your risk of heart disease. Quality whole grains include all three parts of a grain kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm. Brown rice, barley, quinoa and oatmeal are all whole grain foods and just a few of the many grains available. Grains that may be new to you yet worth trying are sorghum, millet, amaranth and freekeh.
9. Have a Cuppa Green Tea
Green tea contains polyphenols, which has been show to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Green tea offers health benefits including brain and memory protection, immune system assistance and tumor inhibition. Try a cup in the morning or iced in the afternoon.
10. Dark Chocolate, A Superfood You Can Really Get Behind
Yes, health professionals all over are imploring you to have a little chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonols, which are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants help limit oxidative damage to cells. Dark Chocolate is good for your heart and your brain and dark chocolate contains several chemical compounds that can have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health.