With so many people beginning to make the connection between optimal wellness and diet, the health industry is booming with nutritional powerhouses said to do everything from preventing chronic diseases to boosting our vitality and helping us to longer, healthier lives.
These nutritional powerhouses are called superfoods, a term that originated in the 1980s and refers to particular foods with a high concentration antioxidants, healthy fats, phytochemicals and a host of other essential vitamins and minerals.
While no one superfood can provide an instantaneous miracle, and the process of healing can be gradual if the body has been subjected to poor diet for a prolonged length of time—there is no doubt that a balanced diet rich in superfoods consumed in moderation can lead to major health advantages.
The list of what is considered a “superfood” seems to be constantly expanding, and it can get overwhelming, so we’ve condensed it down to some of the more common foods that are worth adding to your cart on your next trip to the market.
Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries have a reputation of not only being a delicious addition to a plethora of recipes, but are also abundant in antioxidants that protect the body against cell depleting free radicals. Due to the high fiber content (raspberries contain 8g per cup!), adding berries to your diet can help stimulate sluggish digestion. Berries also contain phytochemicals, the compounds that give plants their rich color, and is believed to support memory and cognitive functions.
Beans and Whole Grains: These are traditional dinner table staples that are high in protein, low in fat and easy to stock up on. Members of the legume family—beans, lentils, and peas are excellent sources of iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Beans, in particular, are rich in soluble fiber, which can assist in keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels balanced. The body also digests this superfood slowly, providing a sensation of fullness for a longer period of time.
Oily Fish: Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are high on the superfood list for their wealth of omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to decrease exposure to heart disease and strokes, reduce inflammation in the body, and promote a balanced mood. If you’re looking to promote healthy and strong hair, skin, nails, and bones, wild salmon is an excellent course of selenium and vitamin D.
Raw Nut and Seeds: Although they are high in calories (mind your portions!), this common superfood provides a great amount of heart-healthy fats and are packed full of vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and iron. Almonds, cashew, and walnuts provide the body with a generous dose of fiber and make a delicious protein substitute if you’re trying to reduce your meat intake. Nuts are also said to decrease one’s risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Leafy Greens: Kale is definitely the most praised on the list of superfoods for its versatility and mild flavor—but it’s dark, leafy companions swiss chard, collards, mustard, spinach, and broccoli are also making headlines for their abundant vitamin content. These dark vegetables are high in vitamin A, C, and K, and are also an excellent source of fiber and calcium. Like other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccoli provides the body with a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane and has powerful antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
Tea: There’s nothing more soothing and energizing for the body than turning on the kettle and sitting down with a nice cup of something warm first thing in the morning. It’s clear that amongst the assortment of superfoods, green and black tea deserve a spot on our list. Both contain high proportions of antioxidants, promote a healthy immune system, and are believed to prevent neurological decline. Please note that these teas do contain caffeine, so try to stick to no more than 2 cups a day if you’re sensitive to stimulants.