Superfoods and how they help you
While there is no “certified” definition of a superfood, the Oxford Dictionary definition states a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” Scientist have studied the benefits of specific nutrients, but do not have a list of superfoods. These foods tend to be low in calories and are nutrient dense. That means these foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other substances that help your body naturally avoid disease while containing few calories. There are many common foods that fit-the-bill of a superfood, but many other more exotic and uncommon ones are worth giving a try.
Most people in the U.S. do not have variety in their diets, and most do not eat superfoods regularly. A general rule-of-thumb is to choose food items that are in season and plentiful. This allows you to maintain your budget when shopping for these wonderful foods. Historically, you can find benefits of natural foods dating back to B.C. The bible even references healthy foods such as honey, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, apples, barley, fish, carob, flaxseed and many others.
Again, when making food choices for a healthy body for life, stick to the basics. Many people call this “clean eating.” The less processed the better. In other words, go for fresh everything. If we choose a variety of foods and eat in moderation, our bodies will get the protective photochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals we need to lead healthy lives.
The following is a list of the most common superfoods and each nutrition guru will have their own selection. A good goal is to consume one super-food each day.
- Acai berries – a very tart fruit that has high levels of antioxidants in the form of anthocyanins which helps fight cancer and heart disease. Buy fresh or frozen and mix with other sweeter fruits instead of adding sugar or buying a juice form.
- Goji berries – a tangy fruit and high in vitamin C. It has been used in China for centuries.
- Chia seeds – good for Omega-3, fiber and calcium. If you don’t consume fish, go for Chia seeds.
- Hemp seeds – high-protein seeds full of omega-6 and omega-3.
- Blueberries – decreases inflammation of vessels and may improve memory.
- Berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberries, etc.) – high in antioxidants.
- Grapes – contain resveratrol which helps improve cholesterol.
- Almonds and walnuts – a high calorie food but full of Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic). Almonds are a good source of calcium and vitamin E.
- Cacao/cocoa powder – high in phytochemicals and antioxidants. Purchase cocoa that has NOT been alkalized or labeled as Dutch since up to 90% of antioxidants are gone from processing.
- Seaweed – packed with omega-3 fatty acids and other minerals.
- Kefir – similar taste to yogurt and full of probiotics which is good for immune system and digestion
- Black garlic (fermented garlic) – anticancer benefits and full of probiotics, helps intestinal flora
- Avocado – loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber and potassium
- Salmon – full of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Sweet potato – full of beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A. One serving provides 345% of vitamin A.
- Pumpkin – provides alpha and beta carotene.
- Edamame – contains fiber, folate and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
Other healthy natural super foods include: oysters, olives, collard greens, spinach apples, cherries, wheat germ, barley, millet, pomegranate, shitake mushrooms, cauliflower, steel-cut oats, bok choy, brussel sprouts, plum, prunes, cooked tomatoes, lentils, kiwi, black beans, sunflower seeds, sardines, and asparagus.