All foods have some nutritional value. However, the benefits that some foods give you are so great that they should be classified in a category of their own.
These are referred to as super foods. They have incredible health benefits such as fighting infections and protecting against diseases. Have a look at 8 21st century super foods that should be part of your diet.
These small, round fruits are low in calories and high in nutrients. They are packed with phytochemicals, flavonoids, soluble fiber, potassium and vitamin C. These substances can prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer, stomach ulcers, heart disease and high blood pressure. They are also anti-inflammatory and can reduce bad cholesterol.
Next time you have a snack attack, consider popping some blueberries. You can also add them to your breakfast cereal or mix them with yoghurt for a tasty dessert.
This green vegetable is a rich source of nutrients. It contains folate, naturally occurring folic acid, which is said to be useful in preventing heart disease. It contains lutein, an antioxidant that can delay the development of age-related macular degeneration. It contains sulphoraphane, a phytochemical that has anti-cancer properties. It also contains soluble and insoluble fiber, calcium and vitamins A and C. These are needed for many functions in the body.
Broccoli can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. If you want to limit cancer, you should include it in your veggie portion. You can include it in salads, curries, stir fries and soups.
Beans are low in calories and fat (except for soybeans). They are high in protein, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates. They also provide modest amounts of essential fatty acids. When combined with grains such as oats or barley, they provide the daily protein requirements for vegetarians. They rank low on the glycemic scale hence are beneficial for people with diabetes. Beans also offer a powerful combination of potassium, calcium, folate and B vitamins. These substances help maintain healthy brain, cells and skin. They also help in reducing blood pressure and stroke risk.
You can combine beans with herbs and vegetables and make delicious soups with high nutritional value. You can also use them in salads or puree them and serve as a spread or dip. Try eating them as a side dish instead of potatoes or bread. You will appreciate the energy and the feeling of fullness that lasts longer than usual.
If you are looking for a “super fish”, salmon is your best option. This fish is not only a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but also omega 3 fatty acids. These nutrients reduce heart disease risk even in older adults, and offer protection from cancer, macular degeneration, depression and dementia.
The best salmon to buy is wild salmon which ranks high in nutrients and low in contaminants. For a start, aim for two to three servings a week. You can make a quick, nutritious meal by eating them on toast with a side salad.
Do you know that a superfood may be hiding in your kitchen cupboard? You may know turmeric as a spice that adds color to your meals. This yellow, pungent spice also offers great health benefits. Curcumin, its active ingredient, is anti-inflammatory and possesses antioxidant properties. As a matter of fact, its antioxidant activities are superior to nutrients like vitamin C and E which are only effective against fat-soluble and water-soluble pro-oxidants. Curcumin is helpful in preventing LDL cholesterol commonly referred to as bad cholesterol.
You can reap the benefits of turmeric by adding an extra amount of it to your curries or mixing it with your salads. You can rub or sprinkle it on vegetables being roasted or sautéed. You can also consider mixing turmeric powder or juiced turmeric root in small amounts with juices, teas or smoothies.
Avocado is an often overlooked super food due to misleading rumors such as it being fattening. Yes, it contains fat, but this is not the type that makes you fat (let’s call it the “fattening fat”). The natural fat it contains is required by the body for it to function properly. Avocados deliver a group of fats called phytosterols which promote prostaglandins thus helping reducing inflammation. They not only help combat inflammation associated with joint pain but also inflammation linked to digestive sensitivities like food intolerance and insulin resistance. These fats therefore help in the regulation of blood glucose levels thus leading to better weight management and energy levels. Avocados also contain monounsaturated fats which promote reduction of cholesterol levels and help in better absorption of other vegetarian foods. They are good for skin and cardiovascular health. Avocados also contain lutein which improves eyesight, folate which promotes wellness in pregnant women and antioxidants which protect your body from cancer, heart diseases and degenerative eye and brain diseases.
Now that you know avocados don’t have the “fattening fat”, you can confidently make them part of your daily diet. They can be incorporated into any meal or fruit smoothie. You can add half an avocado to your smoothie for a creamy, nutritional boost. You can also enjoy half an avocado with your morning omelet instead of toast or potatoes.
7. Green Tea
Well, you must be wondering what green tea is doing here yet it isn’t a food. However, considering the health benefits that it offers you, we saw it right to not to deny it a spot on our list. Green tea has the highest level of antioxidants in comparison to the other types of tea. It contains catechins which retard the effects of free radicals of cancer cells, reduce the size of tumors and may also cause cancer cells to die. Are you still questioning why it is on the list? Catechins and other antioxidants found in green tea aid your body in fighting fat and burning more calories. It therefore helps you lose weight.
The best way to benefit from what green tea has to offer is to drink it regularly. Consider drinking two to three cups every day so as to reap maximum health benefits.
Last but not least, we have the pumpkin. It is one of the most nutritious fruits available. It is packed with antioxidants, disease-fighting vitamins and fibers. It contains beta-carotene which is essential for eye health and boosts the body’s immune system. It is also linked to preventing coronary heart disease. The real treasure of the pumpkin is its seeds. These versatile seeds deserve superfood status on their own due to their numerous health benefits. They are among the leading sources of phytosterols which lower cholesterol levels. Phytosterols can also prevent some type of cancers. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. Studies suggest that these seeds have many potential benefits such as promotion of prostate health, reduction in the risk of bladder stones and helping in the prevention of depression.
Pumpkin can be added to any meal whether in raw, cooked or canned state. For a nutritious breakfast, you can add fried pumpkin to oatmeal. Pumpkin seeds make a good snack whether on their own or when mixed with dried fruit, almonds, walnuts and peanuts. Consider adding the seeds to your salads, sauces, vegetables, pasta dishes and casseroles.
These super foods will make you look and feel great without any side effects. Is any of the above super foods part of your diet? Are there any other foods you feel should be included in the list? Feel free to share with us in the comment section below.