What are the superfoods?

No single food — not even a superfood — can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves. The 2015–2020 US Dietary Guidelines recommend healthy eating patterns, “combining healthy choices from across all food groups — while paying attention to calorie limits.”

Over the years, research has shown that healthy dietary patterns can reduce risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Dietary patterns such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet, which are mostly plant-based, have demonstrated significant health benefits and reduction of chronic disease.

However, there are a few foods that can be singled out for special recognition. These “superfoods” offer some very important nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.

Contents

Superfoods list

Berries. High in fiber, berries are naturally sweet, and their rich colors mean they are high in antioxidants and disease-fighting nutrients.

How to include them: When berries are not in season, it is just as healthy to buy them frozen. Add to yogurt, cereals, and smoothies, or eat plain for a snack.

Fish. Fish can be a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease.

How to include it: Buy fresh, frozen, or canned fish. Fish with the highest omega-3 content are salmon, tuna steaks, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies, and sardines.

Leafy greens. Dark, leafy greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants that have a positive effect on your health). They also add fiber into the diet.

How to include them: Try varieties such as spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, or mustard greens. Throw them into salads or sauté them in a little olive oil. You can also add greens to soups and stews.

Nuts. Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans — nuts are a good source of plant protein. They also contain monounsaturated fats, which may be a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease.

How to include them: Add a handful to oatmeal or yogurt, or have as a snack. But remember they are calorically dense, so limit to a small handful. Try the various types of nut butters such as peanut (technically a legume), almond, or cashew. Nuts are also a great accompaniment to cooked veggies or salads.

Olive oil. Olive oil is a good source of vitamin E, polyphenols, and monounsaturated fatty acids, all which help reduce the risk of heart disease.

How to include it: Use in place of butter or margarine in pasta or rice dishes. Drizzle over vegetables, use as a dressing, or when sautéing.

Whole grains. A good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, whole grains also contain several B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease and diabetes.

How to include them: Try having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Substitute bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries, or brown rice for your usual baked potato. When buying breads at the supermarket, look to see that the first ingredient is “100% whole wheat flour.”

Yogurt. A good source of calcium and protein, yogurt also contains live cultures called probiotics. These “good bacteria” can protect the body from other, more harmful bacteria.

How to include it: Try eating more yogurt, but watch out for fruited or flavored yogurts, which contain a lot of added sugar. Buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit. Look for yogurts that have “live active cultures” such as Lactobacillus, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophilus. You can use yogurt in place of mayonnaise or sour cream in dips or sauces.

Cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, and turnips. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals including indoles, thiocyanates, and nitriles, which may prevent against some types of cancer.

How to include them: Steam or stir-fry, adding healthy oils and herbs and seasonings for flavor. Try adding a frozen cruciferous vegetable medley to soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes.

Legumes. This broad category includes kidney, black, red, and garbanzo beans, as well as soybeans and peas. Legumes are an excellent source of fiber, folate, and plant-based protein. Studies show they can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

How to include them: Add to salads, soups, and casseroles. Make a chili or a bean- based spread such as hummus.

Tomatoes. These are high in vitamin C and lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

How to include them: Try tomatoes in a salad or as a tomato sauce over your pasta. You can also put them in stews, soups, or chili. Lycopene becomes more available for your body to use when tomatoes are prepared and heated in a healthy fat such as olive oil.

25 Greatist Superfoods and Why They’re Super

Here’s a great excuse to gorge on pumpkin pie, blueberry cobbler, apple streusel, and chocolate-covered strawberries! Well, kind of. Yep, they’re all Greatist superfoods— just hold the sugar to get the most benefits. Here are the reasons these fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy products have made our list of the world’s best superfoods.

1. Greek Yogurt Regular yogurt’s thicker, creamier cousin is chock-full of protein and probiotics. It fills the belly, improves digestion, and bolsters the immune system. Plus, it’s a great healthy recipe substitute for sour cream, cream cheese, and even mayonnaise!

2. Quinoa This teeny-tiny, grain-like seed packs some serious nutritional prowess. With a mild, nutty flavor and a texture similar to rice or couscous, quinoa is one of the only grains or seeds that provides all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce themselves. And it’s filled with protein— eight grams per one-cup serving, to be exact!

3. Blueberries Don’t worry; these berries won’t cause an oompa-loompa-like reaction. In fact, they’re nutritional superstars, filled with fiber, vitamin C, and cancer-fighting compounds. And studies suggest blueberries may even improve memory!

4. Kale This rough and tough green beats out all the rest in terms of nutrition, providing more antioxidants than most other fruits and veggies! It’s also a fantastic source of fiber, calcium, and iron. Prepare it virtually any way, from boiled or steamed to roasted (try it as a chip!) or stewed.

5. Chia Ch-ch-ch-chia! Yep, this little seed is the same as those adorable little ceramic animal planters of the 90s! But don’t worry, the nutritious part is not the clay pot. Chia seeds are actually loaded with the most essential fatty acids of any known plant! Plus, one serving of the stuff is loaded with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium.

6. Oatmeal High in fiber, antioxidants, and tons of other nutrients, this breakfast staple has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, aid in digestion, and even improve metabolism. And it’s downright delicious— especially when flavored like pumpkin pie!

7. Green Tea This ages-old health secret has been used as a natural remedy for everything from cancer to heart disease! The secret to this delicious drink? Antioxidants! The main superhero here is Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a phytochemical that slows irregular cell growth, which could potentially help prevent the growth of some cancers.

8. Broccoli This lean, mean, green machine is packed with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting compounds, and the fiber essential in any diet. Though all members of the cruciferous vegetable family are super-duper healthy, broccoli stands out for its exceptionally high levels of vitamin C and folate (which can reduce risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke).

9.Strawberries Vitamin C is the superstar of this superfood. Just one cup of these red beauties satisfies the daily requirement for vitamin C (74 milligrams per day for women, 90 for men)! Studies suggest the antioxidant helps build and repair the body’s tissues, boosts immunity, and fights excess free radical damage. And the vitamin C in strawberries could help promote healthy eye function.

10. Salmon This heart-healthy fish is packed with protein and a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. And bonus points: Salmon may also protect skin from the sun and the damaging effects of UV rays.

11. Watermelon Low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C, this summer treat is the perfect fresh, low-calorie snack. Studies suggest watermelon could also potentially lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. And the lycopene in watermelon could help protect the body from UV rays and cancer.

12. Spinach Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and vitamins that promote vision and bone health are what make this little ol’ green so super. And those bones will be thanking spinach, too! Just one cup of the stuff packs up to 12 percent of the recommended daily dose of calcium and enough vitamin K to help prevent bone loss.

13. Pistachios These lil’ nuts are hiding lots of protein and fiber behind their earthy flavor and nutty crunch. Plus, they’re naturally cholesterol-free. A one-ounce serving of these nuts has almost as much potassium as one small banana.

14. Eggs A relatively inexpensive protein source loaded with nutrients, eggs certainly earn their superfood status. A single large egg is just about 70 calories and offers six grams of protein. Eggs are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for normal body function and heart health.

15. Almonds Surprise! Almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut, meaning they offer the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie per ounce. For just 191 calories, a one-ounce serving provides 3.4 grams of fiber (that’s about 14 percent of the daily recommended value) and a healthy dose of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron. Plus, you can eat them as BUTTER!

16. Ginger Slightly spicy but oh-so-enjoyable, ginger has been used for years as a delicious flavoring and an all-natural remedy for everything from an upset stomach to unwanted inflammation.

17. Beets This all-star veggie contains tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help fight disease and strengthen vital organs. And their purple hue may be the secret to their healthy success— some studies suggest betalains, the purple pigments in these veggies, may help ward off cancer and other degenerative diseases.

18. Beans High in protein and low in cholesterol, beans of any variety can add a healthy twist to any dish (even brownies!). They’re also loaded with fiber, folate, and magnesium, and studies have shown that legumes (like beans) can actually help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers (at least in rats…).

19. Pumpkin Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, these gourds aren’t just for carving (or making into pie). The star nutrient here is beta-carotene, a provitamin that the body converts to vitamin A, which is known for its immune boosting powers and essential role in eye health.

20. Apples Say it with us, people: “Fiber is good.” And apples are a great low-calorie source. (A medium-sized apple weighs in at under 100 calories.) Plus, upping apple intake has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and asthma.

21.Cranberries It’s time to work these fall favorites into dishes year-round. Whether it’s in the shape of a can or fresh off the stove, cranberries have a handful of health benefits and disease-fighting powers. These bacteria-busting berries can help fight inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve oral health, help prevent ulcers and yeast infections, and may even inhibit the growth of some human cancer cells.

22. Garlic Yes, it might leave breath less-than-desirable, but these cloves can do more than flavor— they’ve been used for centuries as food and medicine. These days, garlic is used to treat anything from high blood pressure and heart disease to certain types of cancer. Plus, studies suggest garlic extract can be used to treat yeast infections in women and prostate issues in men.

23. Cauliflower While all the vitamins and minerals are a great bonus, the real star here is cauliflower’s cancer-fighting compounds, glucosinolates. These phytochemicals are responsible for cauliflower’s sometimes-bitter flavor, but they have also been shown to prevent damage to the lungs and stomach by carcinogens, potentially protecting against those cancers. And thanks to interactions with estrogen, cauliflower may also help prevent hormone-driven cancers like breast, uterine, and cervical.

24. Leeks Leeks owe many of their anti-cancer superpowers to their organosulphur compounds. These nutrients have been credited with everything from kicking cancer to boosting immunity. Studies also suggest leeks could help protect the digestive system from stomach and gastric cancers.

25. Lentils They’re pretty cheap, easy to prepare, and high in protein, iron and other essential nutrients. Need we say more? The iron may help fight off anemia (a condition that’s especially common among vegetarians and vegans), and they’re low on the glycemic index, too. That means they cause blood sugar to spike less quickly than other starches, so our energy lasts longer.

What are superfoods and why should you eat them?

Studies have demonstrated that superfoods high in antioxidants and flavonoids help prevent coronary heart disease and cancer, as well as improving immunity and decreasing inflammation.

Regularly eating fruits and vegetables also has strong associations with a lower risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions and overall mortality.

The nutrients they contain help promote a healthy complexion, nails, and hair and increase energy levels.

They can also help maintain a healthy weight.

Berries

The higher levels of flavonoids in berries have been shown to lower the risk of a heart attack. A few commonly identified superfood berries include acai berries, blueberries, raspberries, tart cherries, cranberries, and goji berries.

They boast the following benefits:

  • Acai berries: These are small, dark purple berries grown in South America. They contain 19 amino acids and many antioxidants.
  • Blueberries: These are high in fiber, manganese, and vitamin K. Cranberries are high in a particular flavonoid that helps lower the risk of urinary tract infection.
  • Goji berries: These are a small red berry native to Asia that are high in vitamin C and E, along with many different types of flavonoids. They are frequently used in Eastern medicine to help treat diabetes and high blood pressure and maintain eye, liver, and kidney health.

Goji berries, blueberry products, and acai berry powder and other products are available for purchase online.

Soy

Soybeans have a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of phytochemical. Phytochemicals are compounds that occur naturally in plants.

Some research demonstrates that isoflavones in soy help reduce the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

A few studies have shown that soy may prevent age-related memory loss. Soy isoflavones might also reduce bone loss and increase bone mineral density during menopause, as well as decreasing menopausal symptoms.

Tea

Share on PinterestMany foods considered to be “superfoods” are rich in color, often indicating that they are rich in antioxidants.

Tea contains few calories, helps with hydration, and is a good source of antioxidants.

Catechins, potent antioxidants found primarily in green tea, have beneficial anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.

A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology examined the effects of green tea, white tea, and water consumption on stress levels in 18 students.

The study suggested that both green and white tea had reduced stress levels and that white tea had an even greater effect. Larger studies are necessary to confirm this possible health benefit.

Green tea may also have an anti-arthritic effect by suppressing overall inflammation.

Leafy greens

People often identify kale, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, and collard greens as superfood leafy greens. These foods are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, and many B vitamins.

Leafy greens also contain an abundance of carotenoids, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

One cup of kale provides 550 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, equivalent to over 680 percent of a person’s daily needs. Kale and other leafy greens are high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.

Salmon

The high omega-3 fatty acid content in salmon and other fatty fish, such as trout and herring, can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce cholesterol and slow the growth of arterial plaque.

Dark chocolate

Research has found that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids. Flavonoids demonstrate antioxidant activity, prevent coronary heart disease and certain types of cancer, and boost the immune system.

The component in chocolate specifically responsible for these benefits is cacao powder. Manufacturers derive this from cacao beans. Bear in mind that chocolate may have added ingredients, such as added sugar, that might negate these benefits.

Wine and grapes

Share on PinterestGrapes, particularly red grapes, contain healthful components such as resveratrol and quercetin.

Resveratrol, the polyphenol found in wine that made it famously “heart healthy”, is present in the skins of red grapes.

A few studies have shown promise that resveratrol can protect against diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy. These are conditions caused by poorly controlled diabetes where vision is severely affected.

One 2013 study found that it reduced the effects of neural changes and damage associated with diabetic neuropathy.

Researchers have also found resveratrol to be beneficial for treating Alzheimer’s disease, relieving hot flashes and mood swings associated with menopause, and improving blood glucose control. However, large studies using human subjects are still needed to confirm these findings.

Another flavonoid that occurs in grapes, quercetin, is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by LDL cholesterol in animal studies. Quercetin may also have effects that act against cancer.

However, more studies using human subjects are necessary before researchers can confirm the benefits beyond all doubt.

Although wine does contain antioxidants, keep in mind that eating grapes would provide the same benefit alongside additional fiber. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit alcoholic beverages to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

Other superfoods

Superfoods gaining popularity include:

  • spirulina
  • blue-green algae
  • garlic
  • wheatgrass
  • beets and beet juice
  • turmeric
  • Brazil nuts
  • barley

What Are Superfoods? The Top 10 Ultimate Superfoods

Fermented foods

Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, and miso are heavily sought after superfoods by consumers. This is partly because they have a range of health benefits including antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties. (24)

Fermented foods rich in vitamin K such as kimchi are especially good superfoods for men. Recent research found foods that contain a large amount of vitamin K2 that can reduce prostate cancer risk by 35%. (25)

Green tea

Green tea is a lightly caffeinated beverage with a broad spectrum of health benefits. Rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds, green tea has been shown to protect against chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It has also been shown to be a useful tool for body-weight management. (26)(27)(28)

Seaweed

Seaweed is packed full of several nutrients, including folate, vitamin K, iodine, and fiber. Studies have shown that consuming seaweed can help lower blood pressure and may play an important role in treating several chronic diseases, including diabetes. (29)(30)

Where did the term superfood originate?

One of the first foods to be dubbed a superfood was the banana. It experienced a spike in popularity in 1999, after bananas were endorsed in medical journals and researchers published their findings of using a banana diet to treat conditions like celiac disease and diabetes. Since then, “superfoods” has become a catch-all term for a variety of nutrient-rich foods that are particularly beneficial for well-being.

We’ve outlined just ten health-promoting foods worthy of the superfoods title, but it’s important to note there are plenty of other foods deserving — and equally not deserving— of the superfood title.

Some superfoods may be a super overpriced food

New superfoods seem to be sprouting up on a monthly basis, and it is important to recognize that a lot of it has to do with false marketing to consumers. There is little actual, quantifiable evidence to support a lot of the superfood claims out there. Unfortunately, this means you can’t take something labeled as a superfood at face value.

The high-octane term has become heavily overused and abused by the food industry. Just because something is labeled as a ‘super’, does not mean it has any unique health benefits beyond its nutritional value.

Did you know?
According to Mintel research, in 2015 alone, the category rose 36%, with the United States claiming the top spot for most “super” product launches. From 2014 to 2015, there was a 36% increase worldwide in the number of foods and beverages marketed to consumers with a “superfood,” “superfruit,” or “supergrain” label. (31)

10 Everyday Superfoods

Superfoods are a little bit of hype but also some of the healthiest foods you should be eating everyday. While there’s no real definition of a superfood, at EatingWell, we think of them as multitaskers-foods brimming with various disease-fighting nutrients and delivered in a delicious form (think: antioxidant-packed blueberries).

But some super-healthy foods are a little exotic and expensive to fit into our everyday diets (ahem, goji berry) or something-like, say, sardines-that you’d likely only have once in a while. We’re all for trying new foods and variety is important for a healthy diet but we wanted to find the healthiest foods that were easy to incorporate into your diet. After all, it doesn’t matter how healthy a food is if you’re not eating it.

The healthiest foods and diets focus on real whole food. Lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats. Added sugar and sodium is limited. There are plenty of other good-for-you foods that didn’t make this list-like lentils, bananas and beets-but this list is a great place to start to add more healthy foods to your diet.

So, here is a list of 10 easy-to-eat, easy-to-find, everyday superfoods to keep eating healthy simple and delicious.

Get More: 7-Day Superfood Meal Plan

1. Berries

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Pictured Recipe: Berry-Almond Smoothie Bowl

All berries are great sources of fiber-a nutrient that most Americans don’t get enough of. Fiber helps keep your digestive system healthy and working properly (ahem…) and is good for your heart and your waistline, since it’s so filling. All berries are good for you so be sure to mix it up. In the winter, when berries aren’t in season, grab frozen (without sweeteners) which are great for smoothies, oatmeal, or thawed in yogurt. Raspberries (one of the best breakfast foods for weight loss) boast the most fiber at 8 grams per cup-and also contain ellagic acid, a compound with anti-cancer properties. The same amount of blueberries has half the fiber (4 grams), but is packed with anthocyanins, antioxidants that may help keep memory sharp as you age. A cup of strawberries contains 3 grams of fiber, but more than a full day’s recommended dose of skin-firming vitamin C.

2. Eggs

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Pictured Recipe: Avocado Egg Chilaquiles

A source of high-quality vegetarian protein, eggs might give your meal more staying power too. One egg has about 70 calories and 6 grams of protein. Plus, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin-two antioxidants that help keep eyes healthy. In fact, mounting research links lutein and zeaxanthin with reduced risk for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. And lutein also may help to shield your skin from UV damage. Who knew the humble egg was so nutritious?

3. Sweet Potatoes

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Pictured Recipe: Salmon & Sweet Potato Buddha Bowls

Sweet potatoes are so brilliantly orange thanks to their alpha and beta carotene. The body converts these compounds into the active form of vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes, bones and immune system healthy. These phytochemicals also operate as antioxidants, sweeping up disease-promoting free radicals. One medium sweet potato-or about 1/2 cup-provides nearly four times the recommended daily value of vitamin A, plus some vitamin C and B6, potassium, manganese and lutein and zeaxanthin.

Read more: Your Go-To Guide on How to Cook Sweet Potatoes Perfectly

4. Broccoli

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Pictured Recipe: Balsamic & Parmesan Broccoli

This green powerhouse packs vitamins A, C and K (which helps with bone health), as well as folate. There is another reason broccoli frequently earns a top spot on “superfoods” lists: it delivers a healthy dose of sulforaphane, a type of isothiocyanate that is thought to thwart cancer by helping to stimulate the body’s detoxifying enzymes.

5. Oats

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Pictured Recipe: Creamy Blueberry-Pecan Oatmeal

Oats are a breakfast staple and quite the superfood. Eating more oats is an easy way to up your fiber intake, a nutrient most of us don’t get enough of. Fiber is good for our guts and our waistlines and for keeping us full-all very important qualities in a breakfast food. Plus, oats are a whole grain and plain oats don’t have any added sugar. For a superfood meal or snack start with plain oats and turn them into healthy meals and snacks like blueberry oat cakes, homemade granola to enjoy with fruit and yogurt or DIY energy bites with peanut butter.

Learn more: The Right Way to Prepare Oatmeal and 5 Tips for Making It Better

6. Spinach

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Pictured Recipe: Spinach Salad with Japanese Ginger Dressing

Dark leafy greens do a body good. Spinach is teeming with important nutrients: vitamins A, C and K-as well as some fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. Studies have found that eating more greens, like spinach, can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of diabetes, keep your brain young and help fight off cancer.

7. Tea

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Pictured recipe: Soothing Ginger-Lemon Tea

Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes and some cancers, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones (Tea may also help with weight loss). How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety of tea you choose, maximize the power of its flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, add a little lemon juice-the citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon, lime or orange help preserve the flavonoids.

8. Nuts

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Pictured Recipe: Dark Chocolate Trail Mix

What can’t nuts do? They’re packed with healthy polyunsaturated fats and magnesium, two important nutrients for heart health. These nutrients may also ­offer protection against insulin resistance, which can lead to ­diabetes. Antioxidant compounds found in nuts, including ellagic acid and resveratrol, can reduce the wear and tear on your body from free radicals. In turn, this lowers inflammation, which may reduce cancer risk. Plus, nuts provide insoluble fiber, which studies suggest may help you stay healthy by feeding beneficial gut bacteria. Spread nut butter on toast, grab a handful of nuts for a snack or make your own simple trail mix.

9. Oranges

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Pictured Recipe: Carrot-Orange Juice

Oranges are an underrated fruit. But the humble orange is an excellent source of vitamin C, just one large orange (or a cup of OJ) contains a full day’s dose. Vitamin C is critical for producing white blood cells and antibodies that fight off infections; it’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage and plays a key role in producing skin-firming collagen. Oranges are also high in fiber and folate.

10. Yogurt

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Pictured Recipe: Raspberry Yogurt with Dark Chocolate

Yogurt contains probiotics or “good bacteria” that help keep our guts healthy. It’s also rich in calcium. Just 1 cup of yogurt provides nearly half the recommended daily value of calcium and delivers phosphorus, potassium, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and protein. Choose Greek yogurt for an even bigger protein boost and whenever possible reach for plain. Flavored yogurts tend to have lots of added sugar which add calories without nutrition.

The best way to eat your way to health is by including nutritional superfoods into your daily diet. It’s so easy to add nutrient-rich, flavoursome smart-picks to your menus and create delicious feasts which not only taste amazing, but will also bring long-term health benefits.

Nutrients in foods are synergistic – working together to benefit your entire body. Many superstar foods contain phytonutrients that promote good health due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

To really boost your immunity, try incorporating the following foods into your meals:

ONIONS contain a high concentration of quercetin, an antioxidant that helps protect and strengthen damaged cells. Onions are great for raising good cholesterol levels, lowering high blood pressure and helping to thin the blood, warding off blood clots.
How to use: In stir-fries , scrambled eggs, baked whole with roasts , British onion soup , in stews, pasta sauces , and added to savoury muffins.

GARLIC increases immune function by promoting the growth of white cells – the body’s natural germ fighters. Garlic has been proven to slow the growth of harmful bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Fresh garlic is always the best choice and is a good alternative to antibiotics. Both fresh and dried garlic have been shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure. I take two crushed cloves a day with water to keep bugs out of my system and avoid picking up flus or viruses.
How to use: Crushed in garlic mash , roasted with vegetables or lamb , chicken or pork , in stir-fries and on garlic bread.

BROCCOLI is rich in magnesium and vitamin C, which is known to help fight infections and viruses and is considered one of the most powerful immunity boosters available. Vitamin C promotes the production of interferon, an antibody that blocks viruses and infections from getting deep into cells.
How to use: Add to stir-fries, salads, casseroles, pasta dishes and soups, or lightly steam and serve as a side dish.

QUINOA is perfect as a fast and filling nutritional breakfast – just add almond milk for an added boost of protein. Not strictly a grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is derived from the seed of a plant related to spinach and is a true superfood. It is a complete protein food, which means it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle and repair itself. As well as being high in protein, with few carbohydrates and a dose of healthy fats, quinoa contains an amino acid called lysine, as well vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, copper, zinc, magnesium and folate.
How to use: In porridge, salads and soups, and as a side dish.

KALE is a fibre-rich, dark green leafy vegetable which looks similar to spinach and is jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals. The vitamin A and C in kale is fantastic for your skin and can slow down premature ageing. It also contains lutein, a nutrient that is beneficial for your body and complexion, and also brightens the whites of the eyes. One serving of cooked kale provides more than half the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
How to use: Add to stir-fries or hearty vegetable soups, or crisp it in the oven with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt as a nutritious snack.

WILD SALMON is a great source of protein and contains minerals such as iodine, potassium and zinc. It also contains omega-3 fats – the ultimate anti-ageing nutrient and a major component of brain and nerve tissues. Omega-3 fats are also beneficial for good eyesight. Wild salmon contains loads of vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, nails and bones. For optimum health benefits, consume salmon at least three times a week.
How to use: On sandwiches, for breakfast with poached eggs , in soups and pasta dishes, or cook up some salmon steaks.

NUTS are not only yummy but also contain healthy oils, fibre, vitamins, minerals, potent phytochemicals and the amino acid arginine. Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein, and all nuts are beneficial for heart health – eating a handful of nuts five times a week reduces your risk of coronary heart disease. Nuts are rich in fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants such as vitamin E. If you are concerned about mould and mycotoxins in nuts, soak them in water and sea salt overnight and then dry in the oven for a yummy crispy snack.
How to use: As a snack, nut milks, crunchy toppings for sweet and savoury dishes, and nut flours for baking.

SPINACH is bursting with delicious health benefits. It contains a cross section of phytonutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins K, C, and E, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10, folate, iron and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
How to use: In stir-fries, soups and pasta sauces, for breakfast with poached eggs, and as spinach toast.

SARDINES are high in omega-3 oils, contain almost no mercury (unlike larger fish), and are loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese, and are rich in vitamin B. Not a sardine fan? Try flax seeds, walnuts or chia seeds for an omega-3 blast.
How to use: Mix in a salad, serve on spinach toast or buckwheat toast, serve with eggs, or use as a spread combined with mustard and apple cider vinegar.

EGGS have had a chequered past, but it has now been proven that eating eggs in moderation will not give you high cholesterol as originally reported. In fact, eggs have stellar stats, full of high-quality proteins, essential minerals and vitamins, including vitamin B12 and folate. An egg is a compact package of nutrition that provides every vitamin except vitamin C. Eggs are also a rich source of vitamin K – one egg contains one-third of the daily recommended amount for women. I usually have about two or three servings per week.
How to use: Poached, scrambled, baked, in frittatas, omelettes, baked goods and sauces. For a quick on-the-go snack, hard-boil a batch of eggs.

Text taken from Supercharged Food by Lee Holmes (£14.99), published by Murdoch books.

These Are the Top 10 Superfoods of 2019, According to Dietitians

Many nutritionists will tell you that “superfood” is a loaded term—and, sometimes, the health halo associated with so-called superfoods isn’t totally earned or deserved. But when asked to list the best superfoods right now, many nutritionists chose staples that aren’t exactly “new”, but rather a healthy part of any diet—fresh produce.

A new annual survey published by Today’s Dietitian and Pollock Communications asked 1,342 registered dietitians which foods they believe are the healthiest for 2019—or, the superfoods they believe consumers will go bananas over. In the past, Cooking Light has asked our lead nutritionist, Carolyn Williams, PHD, RD, to investigate ingredients like turmeric, matcha, and alkaline water that many on the internet had lauded as “superfoods,” but it seems that nutritionists are now considering more routine items to have a better reputation overall.

Stay up to date on what healthy means now.

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“We are still seeing the consumer push for cleaner labels and the industry continues their work to deliver it,” Jenna Bell, RDN, told Today’s Dietitian. “It’s beyond food is medicine; now, food is the core of wellness.”

But Bell also points out that plant-based lifestyles have moved past a burgeoning trend into the mainstream; many items on the following list have grown, and interest in dairy has dramatically shifted.

The one noticeable change in this year’s survey? Kale has fallen off the top ten list, while another non-dairy item makes its way onto it.

These are the top 10 superfoods to keep an eye on in 2019, according to nutritionists:

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1) Fermented Foods

Yogurt is a prime example of this category, as gut health continues to be one of the most innovative aspects of nutrition today. Consumers are interested in finding foods—like these four gut-healthy ingredients—that can help them reduce inflammation and detox naturally. If you’re interested in resetting your microbiome with fermented foods, check out Cooking Light’s 3-day detox plan.

2) Avocados

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While kale isn’t on nutritionists’ radar anymore, this creamy fruit still is—and for good reason. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamin E, vitamin C, B vitamins, and folic acid, according to Jamie Vespa, MS, RD. Avocados are also chock full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber, with roughly 50 calories per 1-ounce serving.

And you can put them on much more than toast—here are 35 tasty ways to cook with avocado.

3) Seeds

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From chia seeds to flaxseed and even hemp seeds, these small-but-mighty snacks are nutritional powerhouses. They’re loaded with dietary fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These are five seeds you should be adding to your diet immediately.

The healthiest foods you should be eating now:

  • 6 Fall Superfoods You Should Be Eating All Year Long
  • A Nutritionist Weighs In on 13 Top Superfoods
  • What Is Swiss Army Produce—And How Can I Be Eating More?

4) Ancient Grains

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Quinoa isn’t the only wholesome grain you should be enjoying in 2019. Farro, a popular substitute for enriched pasta products, and teff, which is similar to millet, can be used to top salads, bulk up grain bowls, or in baking.

5) Exotic Fruit; Acai and Golden Berries

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From acai to goji berries, these deliciously sweet options are solid sources of fiber, plus they’re rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fatty acids. We love them in these healthy and delicious smoothie bowls.

6) Blueberries

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Williams says this superfood contains high levels of phytochemicals—including flavonoids, anthocyanins, and resveratrol—that help the body combat inflammation naturally. Other research has shown blueberries to cut risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as memory loss. Not bad for a little berry!

7) Beets

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Beets have been shown to help offset the risk of many chronic diseases due to their high levels of vitamin B, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

8) Nuts

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Whether you choose almonds, pine nuts, pecans, or pistachios, nuts are one of the healthiest on-the-go snack options. We’ve previously published reviews of research tied to the nutritional benefits of consuming nuts (mostly due to their healthy levels of unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.)

9) Coconut Products

Image zoom Photo courtesy of Chobani.

We were a little surprised to see this item make the list. In fact, recent research has led to an all-time low demand for coconut oil, which was once one of the most high-profile superfoods. Last year, the World Health Organization released new guidelines asking people to keep their saturated fat intake to less than 10g of day—so, keep that in mind when cooking with coconut oil or other coconut byproducts.

But our nutrition director, Brierley Horton, MS, RD, is a fan of coconut beauty products! And we’re all big fans of Chobani’s newest addition to the dairy aisle: coconut-based vegan yogurt products.

10) Non-Dairy Milks

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We’ve watched as oat milk has slowly but surely surged to popularity in America (so much so, there was a hefty shortage last year!) But that doesn’t mean people aren’t sold on almond milk anymore, as it may be healthier than any other plant-based milk on the market. In fact, we’ve seen many non-dairy milks hit shelves this year, including pecan milk and macadamia milk. If you’re looking for the perfect milk for your dietary needs, consider our nutritionist’s guide.

What is a superfood and how do you use it? Check out My Darling Vegan’s Top 10 Superfoods to find out all the benefits of some of the best foods and how to fit them into your daily diet.

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You’ve probably heard the word superfood a lot recently. Everyone seems to be wanting to add more superfoods into their diets.

What, exactly, are superfoods?

A superfood is any nutrient-rich food that is considered to be beneficial for health and overall well-being. There are many superfoods out there, more than I’ve tried or even heard of, but today on My Darling Vegan I am sharing with you my top 10 superfoods. Under each one, I’ve given a brief explanation of what it is, how to use it, a few of their many benefits, and a couple of recipes to help you start experimenting.

Before we start, a couple of disclaimers:

  1. I am not a nutritionist. This information is based on my own research and personal preferences.
  2. This post contains affiliate links. That means that I get a small commission to anything you end up buying through my website at no extra cost to you. A win/win for all!

Now, let’s take a look at the superfoods I’ve always got stocked my kitchen.

Top 10 Superfoods Everyone should be eating

1. Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are the seeds from the fruit of the cacao tree – the tree that produces the bean from which we make cocoa and chocolate. Cacao nibs are bold in flavor and slightly bitter in taste. With the perfect crunch, they add wonderful taste and texture (not to mention many many health benefits) to cookies, oatmeal, smoothies, and more.

Benefits of Cacao Nibs

  • high in antioxidants
  • naturally mood boosting
  • enhances energy and focus
  • great source of fiber, iron, and calcium
  • prevents premature aging and promotes skin health

Read more about cacao here and make sure to grab some for yourself to start experimenting.

Vegan Recipes with Cacao Nibs:

  • Cacao Goji Berry Power Cookies
  • Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Steal Cut Oats
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Hemp Smoothie Bowl

2. Hemp Hearts

Hemp hearts are the shelled seeds of the industrial hemp plant (related to cannabis plant). They have an earthy nutty flavor and a nice soft crunch. Despite being so small, they are packed with nutrients. So go ahead, sprinkle them on your salads, and dinner bowls. Blend them in your smoothies, or add them to your tofu scrambles.

Benefits of Hemp Hearts

  • Provides a complete protein
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Hair, skin, and nail health
  • Filled with Omega-3s
  • A great source of natural energy

Read more about hemp hearts here and pick up some for yourself

Vegan Recipes with Hemp Hearts:

  • Vegan Hemp Parmesan Cheese
  • Tofu Kale Breakfast Bowl
  • Kale Caesar Salad

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that comes from the roots of a plant in the ginger family. It is used often in Indian and Asian cuisine. Best known for its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is one of the oldest herbal medicine. Its subtle flavor makes it easy to add to your soups, scrambles, and nut-cheeses to enhance color and provide healthful benefits without compromising the flavor.

Benefits of Turmeric

  • Decreases inflammation in vessels, skin, and gut
  • Balances mood
  • Boosts skin health
  • Alleviates joint pains
  • Promotes brain and heart health

Read more about turmeric here. I love the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric so much, I take a daily capsule. You can also buy it in bulk here and experience the benefits with a daily golden chia latte.

Vegan Recipes with Turmeric:

  • Golden Chai Lattes
  • Red Lentil Curry Soup
  • Vegan Cauliflower Queso

4. Goji Berries

Goji berries are an ancient Chinese medical berry that can be eaten raw or dried. They are a great source of important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C, zinc, and iron. Goji berries have a sharp tart flavor making them a great addition to cookies, oatmeal, and granola bars.

Benefits of Goji Berries

  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Detoxifies the liver
  • Boosts fertility
  • Improves immunity and fights cancer
  • Promotes healthy skin

Read more about goji berries here. And start adding them to your meals today.

Vegan Recipes with Goji Berries

  • Cacao Goji Berry Power Cookies
  • Green Power Smoothie
  • Grain-Free Superfood Granola Bars

5. Quinoa

Often miscategorized as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. Quinoa has been growing in South America for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest superfoods. With a full, nutty flavor and cooking like a grain, quinoa becomes the perfect base for gluten/grain-free bowls and salads. You can also mill the seed into flour which bakes similar to all-purpose flour and makes some of the best gluten-free cookies I’ve ever had.

Benefits of Quinoa

  • Aids in weight loss and supports metabolic health
  • Supports a healthy heart
  • High in protein, fiber, and important vitamins
  • Helps control blood sugar and regulate diabetes
  • Naturally gluten and grain free for a hearty grain-like substitute.

Read more about quinoa here. And start cooking with it today.

Vegan Recipes with Quinoa:

  • BBQ Tempeh Quinoa Bowls
  • Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Sauce
  • Salted Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

6. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are the seed of the desert plant, Salvia hispanica, which originated in Central America. Chia seeds are small, adding a tiny crunch and lots of powerful benefits. Add chia seeds to salads, bowls, and smoothies or combine them with liquid to create a naturally gelatinous texture, perfect for chia pudding or an egg replacer.

Benefits of Chia Seeds

  • Healthy skin and anti-aging properties
  • Supports digestive and heart health
  • Boosts energy and metabolism
  • Great source of Omega-3
  • Regulates diabetes

Read more about chia seeds here. And give my favorite brand a try.

Vegan Recipes with Chia Seeds

  • Matcha Chia Pudding
  • Gluten-Free Breakfast Cookies
  • Blueberry Coconut Smoothie Bowl

7. Kale

Kale is one of my favorite superfoods. Earthy and slightly bitter, kale grows easily (I’ve got some in my garden right now) and is one of the most versatile dark leafy greens available. You can add kale to stir-fries, sneak it in smoothies, make kale chips, or use it the base of your favorite salad.

Benefits of Kale

  • has anti-inflammatory properties
  • detoxifies the body
  • promotes healthy vision
  • provides cancer prevention + heart health
  • is PACKED with necessary vitamins and minerals

Read more about kale here.

Vegan Recipes with Kale

  • Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna
  • Lemon Tahini Kale Salad
  • Ginger Mango Green Smoothie

8. Matcha

Matcha – potent powdered green tea leaves – might be might favorite superfood right now. As I’ve said before, after giving up coffee I started drinking a daily matcha latte. Since doing that I have seen incredible improvements in decreasing stress, better energy, and healthier skin. Wanna try it for yourself? Make your own matcha lattes from home and release the power of matcha!

Benefits of Matcha Green Tea Powder

  • High in antioxidants
  • Reduces stress and enhances calm
  • Natural energy and concentration boosters
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Burns calories and supports weight loss

Read more about matcha here. And try my favorite matcha powder.

Vegan Recipes with Matcha

  • Pistachio Matcha Chocolate Cups
  • Matcha Steel Cut Oats
  • Matcha Chia Pudding

9. Almonds

The seeds from the fruit of an almond tree, almonds are considered by many the most healthy nut for its dense nutritional values. Earthy, crunchy, and slightly sweet, almonds can be used in both sweet and savory recipes as well as a perfect snack on its own.

Benefits of Almonds

  • Boost brain health
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Boosts immune system
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Protects against diabetes

Read more about the benefits of almonds here.

Vegan Recipes with Almonds

  • Maple Almond Pretzel Butter
  • Vegan Almond Joy Ice Cream
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Coated Almonds

10. Blueberries

Everyone loves blueberries and fortunately they are one of the best superfoods available! Low in calorie and packed with nutrients, these juicy sweet berries are a superfood you should be adding to your oats, baking in your pasties, and blending in your smoothies.

Benefits of Blueberries

  • High in antioxidants
  • Protects against aging and cancer
  • Boosts heart health
  • Improves brain function and memory
  • High in fiber

Read more about the benefits of blueberries here. And pick up some today.

Vegan Recipes with Blueberries

  • Vegan Blueberry Muffins
  • Blueberry Coconut Overnight Oats
  • Coconut Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

There you have it – 10 top superfoods that I absolutely love. What superfoods are you lovely lately?

Written by Sarah McMinn

439shares If you give one of these recipes recipe a try, snap a photo and share it on Instagram. Make sure to tag @mydarlingvegan so I can see your creations!

50 Best Superfoods List in 2019

Superfoods pack a punch that’s pleasing to your palate and your physique. From cancer prevention and brain health to beautiful skin and weight management, adding the right foods to your daily diet makes a huge difference. Check out this list of 50 superfoods to shop for in 2015. Though the foods are broken down by major benefit, you’ll notice that champions such as blueberries, broccoli, and kale provide benefits for the entire body.

Superfoods for Cancer Prevention

There’s no medical evidence that a single food cures cancer, but there are hundreds of studies that show certain foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids that help the body protect itself against damaged cells, cancer-causing chemicals, and tumors. From fruits and veggies to favorite seasonings, add these ingredients to your plate several times a week to lower cancer risks.

1. Papaya

Papaya’s health benefits are almost countless. It is rich in tropical goodness as well as key flavonoids that help your body fight cancer cells. Carotenes in the fruit help prevent oral cavity and lung cancer, and other ingredients contribute to the management of free radicals, which damage cells in the body. Other benefits of papaya include:

  • Assistance with the control of blood pressure
  • Anti-amoebic characteristics that contribute to regular bowel movements
  • The prevention of blood clots through the enzyme fibrin
  • Increased glow in skin when used in facial treatments
  • Healthier digestion

2. Brazil Nuts

Traditional weight-loss wisdom says stay away from fatty nuts, but diet experts have learned that monounsaturated fats that come in healthy nuts lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, making them a heart-healthy snack. The nutritional benefits of brazil nuts don’t end there they also provide:

  • Selenium, which increases anti-oxidants in the body and fights heart disease and cancer
  • Vitamin E, which helps protect the body from free radicals and maintain skin membrane
  • A combination of vitamins and minerals that provide metabolic health
  • Copper to prevent bone weakness and anemia
  • Manganese to help create superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant enzyme

3. Spinach

Like broccoli and kale, spinach is loaded with properties that enhance health across your entire body. According to researchers, spinach contains over a dozen flavonoids that are beneficial in fighting cancer and inflammation in the body. The benefits of Spinach for your health are amazing, here are some to name a few:

  • Protection against eye disease
  • Strengthening of bones
  • Balancing of the high acidic content of most American diets
  • Boosting brainpower through omega-3 fatty acids
  • Boosting the immune system with high concentrations of several essential vitamins

4. Seaweed

Seaweed is high in nutrients but exceptionally low in calories—a serving can be as low as 30 calories. Companies are working to incorporate seaweed into foods more palatable to western tongues, including breads, chips, and soups. According to researchers at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and elsewhere, the benefits of seaweed include:

  • Strengthening of mucus that protects the wall of the gut
  • Slow digestion that releases energy over time
  • Prevention of high blood pressure
  • Detoxification properties that may aid the body in fighting cancer
  • Regulation of hormones

5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes account for around 80 percent of lycopene consumption. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that fuels disease fighting capability, including battling cancerous elements. Other benefits of consuming tomatoes or tomato sauce are:

  • Preservation of brain and nerve tissues
  • Increased health in diabetic patients
  • Reduction in bad cholesterol
  • Increased heart health thanks to high levels of potassium
  • Improved sleep and memory

6. Broccoli

Like most high-performing greens, broccoli is high in carotenoids, which help your body rid itself of harmful compounds. Broccoli is the only green veggie with a high level of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane flushes cancer-causing chemicals from the body, making broccoli a champion among superfoods. Other benefits of broccoli include:

  • Increased heart health
  • Possible increases in cognitive functioning
  • Reduction in tumor growth
  • Better digestive health due to high fiber
  • Help maintaining weight while consuming daily nutrition requirements

7. Black Raspberries

Every type of berry offers health benefits, and most provide some cancer-prevention properties, but black raspberries are some of most powerful berries you can pop in your mouth or toss in your smoothie. Reasons to choose black raspberries include:

  • The antioxidants included are more than two times better at battling certain free radicals than those included in other berry types
  • High phenolic compound levels fight disease
  • Studies show black raspberries may reduce tumor growth
  • High levels of ellagic acid, which acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-viral
  • Possible reduction in the risk of esophageal and colon cancers

8. Walnuts

One look at the cranium-like surface of the inner walnut, and you might guess the nut is good for brain health. You’d be right—walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain functions. Other benefits of walnuts are:

  • Cancer-prevention through antioxidants and other ingredients
  • Lower blood pressure
  • High levels of popyphenolic antioxidants, which means as little as five or six nuts a day help free the body of free radicals
  • Skin and membrane protection from vitamin E
  • Higher energy levels from iron, manganese and zinc

9. Garlic

According to the National Cancer Institute, garlic consumption may reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer, though recommended portions aren’t known. In addition to possible cancer prevention benefits, garlic can:

  • Help with weight control
  • Treat psoriasis and cold sores
  • Prevent the common cold
  • Help grow a healthy head of hair
  • Reduce acne

Superfoods for Digestion

Lower your chances at a miserable evening by making digestive-based meal decisions throughout the day. Incorporating certain foods into your diet helps your digestive tract function efficiently, reducing the chances of heart burn, stomach aches, or reflux.

10. Black Pepper

Once used as a currency in some nations, it is now a common, inexpensive spice that brings digestive and other health benefits of black pepper to any recipe. Add a pinch of pepper to your meal to:

  • Increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach to improve digestion
  • Reduce intestinal gas
  • Promote urination
  • Stimulate fat cell breakdown
  • Add antioxidants to your recipe

11. Lentils

Soluble fiber helps regulate digestion, but insoluble fiber prevents constipation and helps reduce the risk of disorders such as diverticulitis. Lentils have many health benefits and bring a lot of soluble fiber to the table as well as these things:

  • Reduction in the risk of heart disease
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Help stabilizing blood sugar levels
  • Increased energy from lean proteins
  • Help with weight loss because lentils are a low calorie, high nutrient food

12. Fish Oil

You can take fish oil pills to get some benefit of this fabulous food, but opting for the real thing in the form of wild-caught fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, or salmon is best. In addition to digestive help, benefits from fish oil include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain health
  • Reduced symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lean proteins that fuel the body without adding weight
  • Increased cardiovascular health
  • Possible help with cancer prevention

13. Ginger

Ginger is a traditional treatment for stomachaches, and science supports the belief that it’s good for your belly. The root speeds up digestion, moving food to the upper intestine from the stomach. Ginger can also be used as a natural:

  • Pain reliever
  • Anti-cancer agent
  • Cognitive enhancer
  • Nausea remedy
  • Menstrual symptom reliever

14. Peppermint

Peppermint has several digestive benefits, but the best one may be the taste. Add some pop to a cool glass of water with fresh peppermint leaves or work peppermint oil into a variety of recipes. Peppermint has been shown to be an effective natural remedy for:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Tension headaches
  • Stuffy nose

15. Pineapple

Pineapples are a digestive cocktail shaken in a spiny tumbler. The fruit contains dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and bromelain—not to mention plenty of moisture—all of which combine to improve digestive health. Other health benefits of pineapple include:

  • Increased immune functions
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Reduced free radicals in the body
  • Anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the chance of bronchitis
  • Reduced symptoms of sore throat or gout

16. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut isn’t likely something you think of when someone says superfood. In fact, it’s often a condiment for junk food. However, any fermented food is good for the digestion, and sauerkraut has the added nutritional benefits of cabbage. Health benefits include:

  • Bacteria that makes the food easy to digest
  • High fiber content that promotes regularity
  • High levels of anthocyanin and Vitamin K that promote brain health
  • Compounds that dry oily skin
  • Compounds that detox the body

17. Water

Perhaps you don’t consider water a food, but among the things you imbibe or consume, water is the queen of the ball. Staying hydrated promotes balanced digestive health and helps foods pass efficiently through your system. Other benefits of getting your eight cups a day include:

  • Clearer, more hydrated skin
  • A reduced intake of calories, especially if water is taken before a meal
  • Reduced muscle fatigue
  • Better kidney health
  • More efficient removal of toxins from the body

Superfoods for Heart and Cardiovascular

Clinicians and physical fitness experts have beat the drum of aerobic exercise for years. Getting your heart pounding a few times a week is essential to cardiovascular health, but so are some of the best superfoods.

18. Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice has one of the highest abilities to absorb oxygen free radicals among fruits, and it competes with many leafy greens when it comes to cancer and disease prevention properties. Other health benefits of tart cherry juice include:

  • Healthier cardiovascular function
  • Hardier immune system
  • Faster recovery from exercise fatigue
  • Increased brain function
  • Healthier sleep patterns

19. Spirulina

Spirulina is an algae rich in a number of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. You can purchase it in pill, flake, or powder form and add it to smoothies or recipes. Researchers are still working to understand all the health benefits of spirulina, which could include treatment for HIV and herpes. Known benefits include:

  • Increased immune support, which may increase the body’s ability to prevent or fight disease
  • Healthier heart functions
  • Possible protection against allergic reactions
  • Possible reduced risk of oral cancer
  • Possible reduced risk of liver disorders

20. Parsley

Often used to decorate a dish, parsley actually comes with its fair share of nutritional power. The herb features a high concentration of man important vitamins and minerals, as well as chlorophyll. Juicing is one of the best ways to receive all the health benefits of parsley, such as:

  • A reduced risk of heart attack through blood vessel protection and conversion of dangerous molecules
  • Increased immune function
  • Reduction of the damage done to cells by free radicals
  • Reduced bloating during menstruation
  • Reduced urinary tract, kidney, or bladder problems

21. Wheatgrass

Like parsley, wheatgrass is a superfood best enjoyed by juicing, though you can purchase specialty food items that contain wheatgrass. Raw or juiced there are many health benefits of wheatgrass that include the following.

  • Wheatgrass contains an enzyme that breaks down superoxide radicals into a form the body can better manage, which slows the aging process.
  • Chlorophylls in wheatgrass diminish the impact of harmful bacteria, helping the body fight disease.
  • Chlorophylls purify the body, especially areas such as the liver.
  • Wheatgrass promotes heart health and better blood flow.
  • Chlorophylls help the body manage blood sugar levels.

22. Dark Chocolate

A little treat does your emotional health good, and with dark chocolate, the benefits extend to physical health as long as you consume in moderation. A study conducted in 2012 found that dark chocolate was linked to a reduction in nonfatal strokes and heart attacks when consumed daily. Other benefits of this semi-sweet treat include:

  • Chances of reduced blood pressure
  • A lower chance of blood clots
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Improved mood

23. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Incorporate this super food into your diet without making huge changes to the daily dinner menu. Replace butter with extra-virgin olive oil when cooking vegetables or seasoning and toasting bread. Create your own flavored dressed by adding healthy spices such as garlic or turmeric to EVOO. Benefits of regular EVOO consumption include:

  • A reduced risk of heart attack
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Help managing blood sugar levels
  • Reduced inflammatory properties when compared with non-virgin olive oils
  • Reduced risk of breast, digestive, or respiratory cancer, as illustrated by a review of 25 extensive studies

24. Grapefruit

Like any citrus fruit, grapefruits offer a lot of vitamin C, which means they boost immune system functionality. High concentrations of the vitamin have been shown to reduce the risk of heart-related issues, including stroke and heart attack. Other health benefits of grapefruit include:

  • Cancer prevention that comes from lycopene
  • Protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Detoxification of the liver
  • Possible prevention of breast cancer
  • Lower cholesterol

25. Oatmeal

Hot oatmeal in the morning is a go-to breakfast for busy moms who care about nutrition, but a bowl a day brings huge heart benefits to adults as well. According to dietician Lauren Graf, oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which absorbs bad cholesterol in the digestive track. The stuff that skyrockets cholesterol levels is eliminated from the body and not passed into the blood stream. Consuming regular portions of oatmeal also:

  • Reduces your chance of high blood pressure
  • Provides antioxidants that fight free radicals
  • Prevent arteries from hardening
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels
  • Reduces the chance of breast cancer

Superfoods for Brain

Think smarter when you plan your meals, and you could positively impact brain health and long-term cognitive capability. Make good food decisions now to protect future mental capacity—choose superfoods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and other brain boosting properties.

26. Wild Salmon

Purchase wild-caught salmon for a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be essential fuel for brain function. Experts recommend adults eat two four-ounce portions of omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, each week. Other health benefits of salmon include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to peptides in the fish
  • Decreased risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure and heart arrhythmia
  • Improved cognition
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased risk of chronic dry eye and macular degeneration

27. Hemp Seed

Like flax, hemp seed is rife with essential amino acids. In fact, it contains all nine amino acids as well as a healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid balance, all of which contributes to brain health. Other health benefits of hemp seed include:

  • Reduced gas and bloating when compared to whey
  • No phytic acid, which prevents your body from absorbing minerals
  • Stability of omega fatty acid balance
  • Digestible proteins fuel the body efficiently
  • Improved immune system

28. Arugula

Arugula is one of the parts of the salad that looks especially leafy, and according to the Romans, regular consumption of arugula increases sex appeal. Health benefits of arugula include:

  • Improved brain function due to a number of vitamins and minerals
  • Help with maintaining weight by adding the low-calorie green to sandwiches, wraps, and salads
  • Improved bone health
  • Prevention of cancer with antioxidants
  • Hydration, even during hot months

29. Avocado

Before you pass on the guacamole or avocado salad based on fat totals, consider the brain-benefits of this fatty fruit. Since avocado is high in calories, author and doctor Ann Kulze advises moderation—add a quarter of the fruit as a side dish to one or two meals a week. The health benefits of avocado include:

  • Increased healthy blood flow
  • Lower blood pressure and reduced risk for hypertension
  • Higher cognitive functioning related to lower blood pressure
  • Reduction in bad cholesterol levels with the help of monounsaturated fats, which make up most of the calories in an avocado
  • Cancer prevention provided by phytochemicals

30. Blueberries

Pop them like candy, but unlike Smarties, these sweet berries actually boost brainpower. Research indicates blueberries may reduce age-related symptoms from dementia. Blueberries:

  • Help protect the brain from stress related to oxidative processes
  • Improve learning capacity
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Help regulate blood sugar
  • Combat free radicals that damage cell structures

Superfoods for Skin and Hair

What you digest on the inside often has a direct relation to how you look on the outside. Fight the signs of aging or boost the sheen of skin and hair with health foods and beverages that create beauty from the inside out.

31. Almond Milk

Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins for skin health, and a single serving of almond milk contains 50 percent of the recommended daily value. In addition to regulating skin health, there are many other benefits of almond milk:

  • Keep eye functions at desired levels
  • Maintain strong bones
  • Regulate blood sugar levels
  • Maintain good hearth health and blood pressure levels
  • Muscles absorb energy necessary for repair and growth

32. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil doesn’t have to be consumed to deliver health benefits. Rubbing oil on skin increases hydration and blocks harmful UV rays, and applying the oil to hair protects against damage. Health benefits of eating coconut oil include:

  • A possible reduction in seizure activity
  • Reduction in hunger
  • Help fighting bacteria and infections
  • Increased energy
  • Therapeutic impact for some brain disorders

33. Carrots

Everyone knows carrots offer benefits for eye health, but did you know chomping on a carrot helps maintain beautiful skin? Some benefits of adding raw carrots to your diet include:

  • Large amounts of Vitamin A, which help repair skin
  • Protection against UV rays
  • Carotenoids in carrots may help prevent cancer
  • Possible help regulating blood sugar
  • Improved immune functions

34. Kale

A leader among superfoods, kale brings benefits to the entire body. A high amount of Vitamin C boosts natural collagen, increasing skin elasticity. Kale is also high in copper, protecting your skin from exposure and inflammation. Other benefits include:

  • Promotion of cell growth from Vitamin A
  • Increased scalp circulation that boosts hair growth
  • Reduced bloating
  • Increased brain health and cognition due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Increased heart health due to high carotenoid levels

Superfoods for Weight Loss

Most people looking to shed pounds know about the weight loss benefits of celery, which takes more calories to digest than it includes. Your search for weight loss foods shouldn’t be limited to the lowest calorie veggies—include some of these powerful superfoods to manage hunger and burn fat.

35. Dried Mulberries

Mulberries feature plenty of vitamins and nutrients, but only 43 calories per 100 grams of berries, making them a great snack or side dish for those looking to lose weight. The health benefits of white mulberry tea are also tremendous. Other benefits of dried mulberries include:

  • Protection against stroke
  • Potential cancer prevention
  • Removal of harmful free radicals in the body
  • Protection for the eye from harmful UV rays
  • Increased ability for the blood to carry oxygen

36. Cilantro

Cilantro promotes fat reduction in the body, making it a great herb for us in diet recipes. In addition to a tasty dinner, you’ll also reap all the health benefits of cilantro:

  • A number of antioxidants, which help your body fight disease and cancer
  • Improved cardiovascular health due to help reducing bad cholesterol
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Reduced anxiety and discomfort due to muscle-relaxing properties
  • Improved quality of sleep

37. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a great source of over a dozen vitamins and minerals, making them an easy addition to a low-calorie, high-nutrition diet for weight loss. In addition to being good for the waistline, the benefits of Brussels sprouts are amazing:

  • Detoxification
  • Antioxidants for prevention of cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Support of the cardiovascular system
  • Ability to lower cholesterol

38. Apples

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it could also help keep unwanted pounds off. Apples are a great low-calorie snack that features antioxidants that could help reduce the chance of metabolic problems. Other benefits include:

  • A high fiber content that promotes digestive health
  • The stimulation of saliva, which can reduce tooth decay
  • Protection against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • Possible cancer-protection properties
  • A decreased risk of diabetes in women who eat one apple a day

39. Buckwheat Pasta

Don’t forgo your favorite pasta dishes; instead, substitute regular pasta for buckwheat, which is high in protein and harder to overindulge on. The benefits of buckwheat pasta include:

  • A lower risk of diabetes, especially when you use it to replace traditional pasta
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Phytonutrients that make the pasta as health promoting as fruit
  • Reduced chance of breast cancer
  • Increased digestive health, which helps boost weight loss efforts.

40. Goji Berries

Toss aside the grapes, which are high in calories and sugars, and snack on Goji berries instead. Reasons to choose these exotic looking berries include:

  • Eighteen amino acids, which mean the berries are a great source of protein
  • Hunger reducing properties
  • The berries are a filling snack with only 35 calories
  • A boost for the immune and nervous systems
  • Increased brain and muscle functionality

41. Pomegranates

Keep your sweet tooth in check with pomegranate seeds, which are low in calories. Other benefits include:

  • Disease-fighting antioxidants
  • High fiber content that supports digestive regularity
  • Improves blood flow for better cardiovascular health
  • Slows the growth of prostate cancer
  • Reduction of bad cholesterol

42. Yogurt

Plain yogurt sports a combo of fat, protein, and carbs without a high calorie price tag, making it a perfect food for inclusion in any diet. Some benefits of eating yogurt include:

  • Stable blood sugar levels
  • Active cultures that promote gut and digestive health
  • Reduced risk of vaginal infections
  • Improved immune systems
  • Possible prevention of osteoporosis

Superfoods for the Immune System

Sneeze or sniffle one too many times in the office, and someone’s bound to suggest a round of orange juice and chicken soup. Though both do boost your immune system, they aren’t the only foods that help you steer clear of the sickbed.

43. Kiwi

Kiwi is high in both antioxidants and vitamin C, making it an immunity-boosting powerhouse. Slice it up for breakfast or a snack to get other health benefits of kiwi, such as:

  • Protection for oxidative damage that occurs to DNA over time
  • Help managing blood pressure level with high potassium intake
  • Assistance with digestion, such as that received when eating papaya or pineapple
  • Removal of toxins from the body
  • Reduced intestinal issues or constipation

44. Onion

Onions are often overlooked in the superfood arena because of their common place at the table or in recipes, but they are a high-performing food that keeps up with more infamous fruits and veggies. Health benefits of onions include:

  • Enhanced immune functionality
  • Protection for the cardiovascular and nervous systems
  • Promotion of health hormone functions
  • Reduced chances of food-borne illnesses
  • Cancer prevention

45. Mango

High concentrations of vitamin C, vitamin A, and copper mean mango is beneficial to the immune system. Other beneficial properties of mango include:

  • Potassium, which helps promote heart health
  • Antioxidants that help the body fight against cancer
  • Pyridoxine, which is required for certain hormones to be produced in the brain
  • Carotenoids that promote heart and overall health
  • Antioxidants that are essential for eye health

46. Green Tea

Whether you drink it iced or warm, green tea is packed with powerful nutrients and a surprising number of antioxidants. The beverage includes bioactive compounds that boosts the immune system and improves overall health. Other benefits include:

  • Increased brain function and cognitive ability
  • Increased fat burning for reduced weight
  • Reduced risk of cancer
  • A 20 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease for individuals who consume four cups a day
  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s.

47. Honey

Used as a natural remedy for years, honey is often added to hot beverages to sooth coughs or aching throats. Other benefits of the bee’s labor include:

  • The treatment of indigestion or acid reflux
  • Use as an antibacterial to fight off viruses
  • A boost to immune system processes
  • The possibility of preventing a reduced white blood cell count, according to the Mayo Clinic
  • A possible relief for seasonal allergies

48. Oranges

Pop vitamin C in one of the purest, strongest forms when you eat an orange. Boost your immune system, and don’t worry about overdoing it. The Vitamin C in an orange is water soluble, so unnecessary portions leave your body through urine. Other benefits of eating oranges include:

  • Citrus limonoids, which are proven to help prevent cancer
  • Soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol
  • Potassium to increase heart health
  • Polyphenols that fight infections
  • Hesperidin, which helps to regulate blood pressure

49. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes contain a high concentration of Vitamin C, but they are also strong in Vitamin A, which boosts immune health and helps the body repair skin and other tissues. Other benefits of sweet potatoes are:

  • Antioxidants that help your body fight disease such as cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Help regulating blood sugar
  • Antifungal properties
  • More efficient brain and nerve functions

50. Turmeric

Turmeric is most commonly known as the main ingredient in curry seasoning, but it can be used as an ingredient on its own. It has a high concentration of the antioxidant curcumin, resulting in benefits that include:

  • Antiviral properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduced symptoms of upset stomach
  • Reduced osteoarthritis pain
  • Possible relief of skin cancer

There are many foods that bring beneficial qualities to your plate. A few superfoods not mentioned here include cucumber, acai berries, and chamomile. Combine superfoods you enjoy into healthy, beneficial meals at least twice a day to improve your quality of life and long-term health.

On Your Health

The Health Benefits of Superfoods

03/18/2019

Eating a nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is one of the most important parts of living a healthy lifestyle. Science says nutrient-dense foods not only make you feel great, but may even reduce your risk of certain chronic health conditions while providing multiple health benefits.

You’ve most likely heard the term “superfoods” to describe foods that will supposedly make you look great, feel great and help you live a longer, healthier life — but what are “superfoods” and what makes them so super? We’ve taken a look at these so-called superfoods to see what about them packs that extra nutrient punch and how you should incorporate them into your everyday diet.

What is a superfood?

There is no exact definition of what makes a “superfood.” However, superfoods are considered to be nutrient powerhouses that provide large quantities of antioxidants, phytochemicals (chemicals in plants responsible for colors and smells), vitamins and minerals. Most superfoods are plant-based, but some fish and dairy also make the cut.

Examples of popular superfoods include salmon, kale, açaí berries, kefir and almonds, just to name a few. Since there is not a strict definition of superfoods, any food that is nutrient-dense is commonly put into this category.

Benefits of superfoods

The high vitamin and mineral content found in superfoods can help your body ward off diseases and keep you healthier. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, these foods can promote heart health, weight loss, improve energy levels and even reduce the effects of aging.

Antioxidants found in many superfoods may help prevent cancer, while healthy fats can reduce your risk of heart disease. Fiber, which is also found in many superfoods, can help prevent diabetes and digestive problems while phytochemicals have numerous health benefits including reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Superfoods are also known to protect your organs from toxins, help lower cholesterol, regulate metabolism and reduce inflammation.

Eating a well-balanced diet

It’s important to note that while superfoods are good for your health and provide many nutrients you need on a daily basis, eating superfoods alone does not contribute to a healthy diet. Eating too much of one type of food can actually be detrimental to your health and prevent you from getting all of the nutrients you need. For this reason, superfoods should be added to a well-balanced diet, not replace one.

“No one food can provide you all of the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need,” says INTEGRIS dietitian Meagan Ballard. “It is very important to eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods to obtain the health benefits our bodies need. There is nothing wrong with eating a food item that provides you a good amount of a specific vitamin or mineral that you need, but our bodies require many vitamins and minerals to function properly, so don’t rely on one superfood alone to achieve this.”

A well-balanced and nutritious diet should include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, legumes and nuts while limiting the intake of sodium, bad fats and refined sugar. When combined with exercise and regular physical activity, a healthy and nutritious diet can work wonders for your health. As Ballard says, “Food IS medicine.”

Popular superfoods

Below are some of the most popular superfoods and the benefits they provide. When adding superfoods to your diet, be aware that unprocessed, natural varieties offer the most benefits. Foods can quickly lose their nutrient-rich superiority when processed or sugar is added for flavor. For example, green tea provides many antioxidants that your body needs, but is often processed using inferior tea and brewed with copious amounts of sugar, lessening its health benefits.

Açaí Berries

Açaí berries are grown in Central and South America and are the fruit of the Amazon palm tree. They are high in antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus — meaning they definitely live up to their superfood designation. Studies have shown that these berries can help suppress and repair oxidative damage and help you maintain normal blood sugar.

Other berry varieties, like blueberries, strawberries and cranberries, are also rich in vitamins, soluble fiber and phytochemicals. Certain antioxidants and plant compounds found in berries can slow the growth of cancerous cells and help protect memory and cognitive function.

Kefir

You’ve probably never heard of kefir, but it’s one of the most probiotic-rich foods on the planet. Kefir is a cultured, fermented beverage made from kefir grain and raw milk. This yogurt-like beverage is high in protein, B vitamins, potassium and calcium. However, it’s most powerful health benefit is its probiotic properties. Probiotics can improve the healthy bacteria ratio in your gastrointestinal tract, treat and prevent diarrhea, treat irritable bowel syndrome and reduce gastrointestinal infections, among other benefits.

Because kefir is fermented, people who are lactose intolerant can enjoy kefir and all of its many benefits despite the fact that it’s made from milk.

Avocado

Avocados are known to help with everything from reducing cholesterol and alleviating arthritis to lessening the side effects of chemotherapy. Avocado is high in monounsaturated fats that can improve good cholesterol levels. It is dense with vitamins E and B6, which aid in red blood cell formation, helping protect body tissues from free radicals, producing glycogen (an energy source for your body) and promoting skin health.

Avocados can also help your body absorb carotenoids — plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow and orange hues found in other fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are great because they contain high levels of vitamin A, the vitamin linked to reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and eye degeneration.

Kale

A commonly known superfood, kale is a leafy green vegetable high in vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium, manganese, antioxidants and iron. Kale is very low in calories and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma and certain autoimmune disorders.

Like kale, other leafy greens such as Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, cabbage and broccoli are rich in vitamins that support vision, prevent blood clots, support bone health, boost metabolism and prevent certain cancers.

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Introducing salmon into your diet can decrease your blood pressure, reduce inflammation and even boost your mood. This fish is also rich in vitamin D and selenium, which prevent cell damage and benefit your hair, skin, nails and bones. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish such as salmon at least two times per week.

Ginger

A little-known superfood but widely-used spice, ginger can give your immune system a boost, fight infections and protect against cancer. Ginger has been used throughout history as a treatment for nausea, digestive problems and muscle pain but has also been known to reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar. Try adding ginger to meals as a spice, drinking it in tea or taking ginger root supplements.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and potassium. All of these nutrients can help prevent heart attack, keep you looking younger, promote immune system health, improve vision and maintain healthy teeth, bones and skin. Since sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, they don’t require the extra butter, cream or salt that is typically added to potatoes to make them taste better.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a super grain that is high in fiber and protein; in fact, it contains more protein than any other grain. Besides high levels of protein, quinoa is also a source of iron and potassium.

Quinoa is technically not a grain but is actually a seed. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and is often used as a rice substitute. On top of all of its other benefits, quinoa is also a great source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Superfoods make a nutrient-packed addition to a well-balanced diet and regular exercise routine. For more nutrition and fitness tips, check out the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog.

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Recent Articles

Eating clean is all about maximizing your nutrient intake while eating mouthwatering meals made from natural, wholesome ingredients. So what better way to achieve that goal than to stock your kitchen with an array of super foods replete with health-promoting, healing benefits? To help you do just that, for the first time ever, Clean Eating has handpicked the 20 most-powerful superfoods available to you right now that are teeming with good-for-you nutrients. Of course, choosing just 20 superfoods required us to make some tough choices about what to include – our criteria when evaluating foods were that they had to be extremely high in healing nutrients, generally low in calories and deliver substantial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Cook the way nature intended! Register now to find out when the next Clean Eating Academy course launches.

Narrowing down the list of power foods was no easy feat – we looked at the most up to-date research, considered ORAC values (a unit of measurement that assesses the antioxidant value of a food) and then we surveyed our panel of revered experts. Our advisers included our magazine editors, several dietitians, a PhD in nutrition as well as a holistic nutritionist. We tabulated the votes and the result is the vibrant, varied and well-rounded list you see here.

Often, people mistakenly believe that superfoods are hard to find, exorbitantly expensive or shipped in from the ends of the earth – but they don’t have to be. In fact, all of the superfoods on our list are ingredients that are readily available at your local grocery store. In this section, you’ll glean information on the impressive health benefits these foods have to offer, as well as 20 recipes and additional tips on how to easily (and deliciously) integrate them into your diet. We’re showing you just how simple it is to eat your way to amazing health!

1. Beets

Blood Purifier

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), beets are believed to be a natural liver tonic and blood purifier. The benefits of beets aren’t confined to Eastern traditions, though. Betaine, a substance found in beets, supports overall liver function and helps the liver process fats. Beets are also an excellent source of folate, or vitamin B9, a nutrient (along with betaine) that helps balance the body’s levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that, when elevated, may increase the risk of heart disease. Beets actually pack a double punch for your health as the leaves are also nutritionally rich, especially in bone-building calcium and anemia-preventative iron, as well as the antioxidant vitamins A and C.

More Uses For Beets

Roast beets with just a splash of balsamic vinegar to use them in salads or as a side dish. They are also surprisingly good when served raw, in thin slices or as spirals over salads. Pickled beets also make a great addition to sandwiches, wraps and burgers. And don’t forget to use the beet greens as well – use them as you would any other green, such as in salads, sautéed or in stir-frys.

Recipe:Red Velvet Cake with Beets & Cream Cheese Glaze

2. Basil

Body Protector

Think of basil as a body protector. Two flavonoids found in the popular herb – orienting and vicenin – are believed to protect chromosomes from environmental damage, such as radiation. Basil also provides a moderate degree of protection against bacterial growth due to the presence of strong oils found in and on basil leaves. A natural anti-inflammatory, basil contains a substance that blocks the activity of cyclooxygenase (COX), an inflammatory-enducing enzyme – and that’s exactly what active ingredients in pain medications, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, do, too. Basil’s high percentage of vitamin A may help prevent the oxidation of blood cholesterol, which could lead to the hardening of arteries. Also worth noting: Research shows that washing produce in a solution containing just 1% of basil oils resulted in a significant reduction in the presence of shigella, an infectious bacteria spread through contaminated water and food that can cause intestinal pain, diarrhea or fever.

More Uses For Basil

Aside from the classic uses for basil such as in pesto, tossed into pastas or as a pizza topping, basil makes an interesting addition to any berry-based smoothie, especially when combined with blueberries or strawberries.

Recipe: Halibut Pouches with Basil Cucumber Salsa

3. Cauliflower

Anticarcinogen

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae or cabbage family and, as such, contains many of the compounds that give this vegetable family its rightly deserved reputation as potent cancer fighters.Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, which acts as an antioxidant and stimulator of naturally detoxifying enzymes in the body. When sulforaphane enters the bloodstream it powers up the body’s antioxidant defense systems, activating enzymes in the liver that help remove carcinogenic molecules from cells. Sulforaphane is believed to be partly responsible for the lowered risk of cancer that’s associated with the consumption of cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

More Uses for Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be a great lower-carb substitute for rice (as shown here; see recipe below for instructions) in dishes such as fried rice. Alternatively, steam cauliflower with garlic then purée with goat cheese for a delicious swap for mashed potatoes.

Recipe:Cauliflower “Rice” Risotto with Mushrooms & Truffle Oil

4. Turmeric

Potent Anti-Inflammatory

Turmeric is one of the spices that gives Indian curries their distinctive flavor and hue. This unique spice is part of the ancient healing systems of India, China and the Polynesian Islands, and it holds a place of distinction in both Ayurvedic (Indian) and Chinese medicine. Believed to be a potent anti inflammatory, one of turmeric’s traditional uses has been for the treatment of arthritis. While turmeric contains a whole family of active compounds, the one most responsible for turmeric’s medicinal effect is curcumin. Although more clinical trials on humans are needed, curcumin has shown promise in slowing the growth of some types of cancers (including pancreatic and colon) as it may help fight cancer cells by reducing either the number or size of tumors.

More Uses for Turmeric

Turmeric is perfect in a soothing tea. Just stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of the ground spice into a cup of boiling water with fresh ginger slices and a teaspoon of honey. The spice is also a welcome addition to curries and stir-fries.

Recipe:Turmeric-Roasted Root Vegetables with Lentils & Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

5. Miso

Cardioprotective & Antioxidant-powered

Miso is an enzyme-rich, naturally fermented soy product that’s been a mainstay of Japanese cooking for centuries. It’s made by mixing cooked soybeans with salt and a fermenting agent called koji. Miso is high in antioxidant activity, stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids and may have a protective effect against chemicals and radiation due to the presence of dipicolinic acid, a substance that binds to heavy metals, potentially helping your body excrete them. Miso is almost always eaten as a soup with other health-promoting ingredients, such as seaweed, which has made it hard to research the health effects of miso as an isolated ingredient. Despite being very high in sodium (1 teaspoon typically contains 200 to 300 milligrams), miso consumption has been shown to correlate with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Some researchers speculate this cardioprotective effect may be due to the peptides (the building blocks of protein) found in fermented soybeans. Due to the fermentation process, miso is also a source of probiotics, or beneficial gut bacteria, that can help improve digestion and bloating. Look for brands of miso that list “unpasteurized” on the label as the heat during pasteurization can destroy these fragile microorganisms.

More Uses for Miso

Whisk miso into Asian-style vinaigrettes and dips for a boost of umami flavor. Mix with sesame oil, mirin and seasonings and a touch of sweetener and brush on grilled or broiled vegetables. Because probiotics are sensitive to heat, the less miso is heated, the more benefits it yields.

Recipe:Miso Orange Glazed Chicken with Carrots & Leeks

6. Butternut Squash

Vitamin A Giant

Butternut squash is a vitamin A giant, packing in a whopping 1,144 micrograms of it per cooked cup, which more than meets the recommended daily value (DV) of this protective vitamin for men and women. Butternut is unique among winter squashes because it contains a substantial amount of beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid that may lower the risk of developing lung cancer. And some research indicates that exposure to carcinogens in cigarettes – either directly or secondhand – can induce vitamin A deficiency.

More Uses for Butternut Squash

Chop butternut squash into “fries” and bake with the spices of your choice. Purée cooked squash and stir into chili for added nutrition, or use puréed squash in baking as an alternative to canned pumpkin.

Recipe:Butternut Squash Soufflés with Leeks & Gruyére

7. Walnuts

Remarkable Omega-3s

Walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) of any nut, the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. In addition to the remarkable things omega-3s do for your heart, such as help lower triglycerides and reduce plaque formation in blood vessels, this essential fatty acid also supports your think tank. Omega-3s help facilitate the movement of feel- good neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) in and out of cells, while also supporting memory and problem solving. If that’s not enough, walnuts could help you stay trim, too. According to experts at Loma Linda University, eating four to six walnut halves before meals helps reduce appetite and may cause people to eat less at meals.

More Uses for Walnuts

Walnuts make a lovely coating for shrimp and the same recipe can be used on baked chicken as well. Alternatively, toss raw or toasted walnuts into green salads, tuna salads, oatmeal and trail mix.

Recipe:Walnut-Crusted Shrimp with Roasted Red Pepper Dip

8. Maca

Energy & Sexual Healing

Maca is a vegetable crop cultivated in Peru for thousands of years and the plant’s roots are believed to have unique medicinal qualities. Maca’s main claim to fame is as a libido enhancer, although it is also well-known for its ability to boost overall energy. “Maca is also known as ‘Peruvian ginseng’ (despite the fact that it is not a member of the ginseng family), because it is used as a folk remedy to increase stamina, energy and sexual function,” says Cathy Wong, a naturopathic doctor and expert in alternative medicine. Formal studies have mixed results: Some showed maca has a positive effect on sexual desire and sexual dysfunction while others showed it had no effect. Another study found that in cases of sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants, maca helped improve libido. Chris Kilham, author and founder of Medicine Hunter Inc., says maca has a long history of successful medicinal use for menopausal discomfort, infertility and sexual healing. Maca is most often sold as a supplement in
powder or pill form.

More Uses for Maca

Add to smoothies and popsicles, or sprinkle on your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

Recipe:No-Bake Maca Brownie Bites

9. Chia Seeds

Stabilize Blood Sugar & Boost Energy

Chia seeds were largely unknown in North America until American researchers began sourcing and using chia as an alternative crop for Argentinean farmers. One of the researchers – Wayne Coates, a research professor who started studying chia more than 20 years ago – became an advocate for the seeds and started selling them commercially in North America. Chia was also in the spotlight during the ’80s and ’90s when Chia Pets were the latest craze, but the seed itself was not widely available in grocery stores. Chia and chia-based foods and beverages sprang up on store shelves several years ago as more and more nutrition experts heralded its nutritional benefits and consumer demand soared. While human studies are limited, anecdotal evidence suggests that eating chia seeds can boost energy, stabilize blood sugar and help with digestion. This is partly due to the high fiber content of the seeds – 1 ounce (just under 3 tablespoons) has 11 grams, almost half the daily fiber requirement for adults. Chia seeds also contain a good amount of calcium, magnesium and potassium, and they offer 30% of your Daily Value (DV) of manganese, an important mineral for bone health. When buying chia, remember that both the white and the black seeds are fine choices. But avoid the red (immature), brown or black seeds that are smaller than regular chia seeds – those are weed seeds.

More Uses for Chia

Chia seeds make an excellent, protein-packed breakfast pudding. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1 cup of almond milk and a pinch of cinnamon. Allow the mixture to thicken overnight and serve with fresh fruit.

Recipe:Lemon Chia Pancakes with Mixed Berry Compote

10. Adzuki Beans

Protein & Fiber Stars

Adzuki beans are especially high in fiber – just 1 cup of cooked adzukis contains an absolutely impressive 17 grams. But that’s not all – it also supplies 17 grams of protein and a whopping 1,224 milligrams of potassium per cup. Many of the merits of adzuki beans apply to beans in general, including garbanzo, red kidney, black beans and pinto beans. So what’s so great about beans? All beans boast a great amount of fiber, a beneficial nutrient that aids digestion and helps lower cholesterol. Beans also contain an elixir of phytochemicals, including saponins, that may inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), adzuki beans in particular are said to have healing properties, specifically to support kidney, bladder and reproductive function. Another bonus? Adzuki beans are easier to digest than some other bean varieties and therefore may disprove the meaning of The Magical Fruit Song…

More Uses for Adzuki Beans

Toss adzuki beans into soups, chilies, stews and stir-fried greens for an added protein and fiber boost. Adzuki beans also work well in veggie burgers or as a substitute for pinto beans in refried beans.

Recipe:Adzuki Bean Hummus with Spiced Beef Stir-Fry

11. Kimchi

Anti-Cancer Properties

A traditional, fermented Korean dish, kimchi (which is typically made from ingredients including Chinese cabbage, daikon radish, garlic, Korean red pepper powder, onion, fish sauce and ginger) is the perfect example of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Each and every ingredient lends vitamins and minerals that make kimchi one impressive condiment. Four of kimchi’s main ingredients – cabbage, daikon radish, onions and garlic – have displayed significant heart-health benefits and some anticancer properties. Garlic, for example, has been shown to reduce plaque buildup in blood vessels and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Kimchi is also a superfood because of the way it’s prepared: fermentation. During fermentation, healthy bacteria such as lactobacilli are developed. Among its many benefits, lactobacilli are probiotics believed to support and improve the body’s immunity. Like other naturally fermented foods, shop for brands that list “unpasteurized” on the label as the heat during pasteurization can destroy their healthy bacteria.

More Uses for Kimchi

Kimchi makes an excellent topper for sandwiches, burgers and wraps. Chop and toss into stir-frys and noodle dishes after cooking. Kimchi also works well to create Asian-Mexican fusion in dishes such as tacos, nachos and quesadillas. Remember that it’s preferable to always add kimchi at the end of cooking in order to preserve its probiotic benefits.

Recipe: Korean Kimchi Stew with Tofu

12. Ginger

The Universal Remedy

In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is known as the “universal remedy.” This little plant, with its antimicrobial and antiviral properties, contains a whole pharmacy of ingredients with multiple health benefits. Gingerol – the ingredient in ginger responsible for its pungent and spicy flavor – is an antiemetic, meaning it has the ability to help prevent and treat nausea and vomiting. That’s why ginger tends to have the awesome ability to soothe an upset stomach and curb nausea. Further studies demonstrate ginger’s positive health effects on the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, pain, fever, immunity and even the deterrence of cancer cells. It’s no wonder that a cup of hot ginger tea with lemon is a home remedy for all sorts of “under-theweather” symptoms!

More Uses for Ginger

Ginger is a pungent addition to virtually any stir-fry, soup or salad dressing. A thumb-sized piece brings a spicy burst of flavor to any fresh-squeezed fruit or vegetable
juice. Chopped ginger mixed with citrus juice and chiles makes an excellent marinade as well.

Recipe:Ginger Acorn Squash Soup with Spicy Chickpeas

13. Coconut

Brain Fuel

A long-term study designed to examine the health of people living on the Pacific Islands of Tokelau and Pukapuka, where coconuts are a staple food, showed impressive results. Despite eating a high-fat diet (up to 60% of calories coming from fat; most of those fat grams being saturated fat from coconuts), the Tokelau and Pukapuka islanders were virtually free of atherosclerosis, heart disease and colon cancer, among other conditions. Additionally, the islanders were overwhelming lean and healthy, and digestive problems were rare. Maybe the islanders were onto something! It turns out the saturated fats in coconut are mainly
medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). According to the Physicians’ Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements, 2nd Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2008), there is preliminary evidence that MCTs may be helpful in preventing or treating some cancers and may have positive effects on immunity. According to neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of Grain Brain (Little, Brown and Company, 2013), the fat in coconut and coconut oil makes excellent fuel for the brain. A 1/2-cup portion of shredded coconut meat has almost 4 grams of fiber, 143 milligrams of potassium and 13.5 grams of fat, some of those being easily digested MCTs.

More Uses for Coconut

Fresh coconut is a rich addition to desserts such as macaroons, cakes or muffins. It works in a savory context as well, as an addition to curries and stir-frys. And don’t forget the obvious – fresh pieces of coconut eaten out of hand are a delicious snack!

Recipe:Fresh Coconut Jicama Slaw

14. Mustard Greens

Powerful Detoxifier

A cheerleader for your liver, mustard greens have unique compounds that help support your body’s ability to detoxify and help thwart the development of cancer cells. Powerful antioxidants from mustard greens help boost what’s referred to as Phase 1 detoxification (the first step in the liver’s detoxification process), while also lending sulfur-rich nutrients to boost the liver’s second phase of detoxification. These strongly-flavored greens are also a great source of vitamins A, C and E, and a mix of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients such as quercetin. They’re also high on the list of veggies rich in vitamin K, an important nutrient that helps regulate the body’s inflammatory response, keeps calcium in bones and is critical for the healthy flow and clotting of blood. Did we mention that mustard greens taste absolutely amazing?

More Uses for Mustard Greens

For a simple side dish, sauté chopped mustard greens and garlic in olive oil; stir in pinto beans. Alternatively, instead of kale chips, make a crunchy snack using mustard greens.

Recipe: Savory Pancakes with Mustard Greens & Tahini Sauce

15. Swiss Chard

Nutritionally Spectacular

Maybe it doesn’t come from an exotic forest in Brazil or from a tiny area deep in the Himalayas, but this common vegetable sold in almost every supermarket in America is nutritionally spectacular. One cup of cooked Swiss chard provides 4 grams of fiber, more than 100 milligrams of calcium, a staggering 961 milligrams of potassium (more than a banana) and more than 30 milligrams of vitamin C. But wait, there’s more! The same amount of chard is also incredibly rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two members of the carotenoid family that are being researched heavily for their ability to protect eyesight and guard against vision problems such as macular degeneration. And it should be noted that 1 cup of Swiss chard provides all those nutrients for a mere 35 calories!

More Uses for Swiss Chard

For a unique appetizer, wrap Swiss chard leaves around thin slices of fresh mozzarella seasoned with garlic and red pepper flakes; secure leaves with toothpicks and grill until cheese starts to melt. Or, try replacing spinach with chopped Swiss chard leaves in omelettes, frittatas and dips.

Recipe: Swiss Chard Wraps with Almond Lime Dip

16. Sardines

Mood, Brain, Metabolism

If you can find a health food in a can, sardines are it. They’re simply loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, the benefits of which are legion. Omega-3 consumption is linked to improved mood, brain function, circulation and metabolism, as well as lowered blood pressure and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. And that’s not even opening the full can of benefits these little fish provide. They’re an excellent source of calcium – depending on the type, one can of sardines supplies 25% to 38% of the USDA recommended daily value (DV) of calcium. Sardines also pack a good dose of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese, not to mention the full spectrum of B vitamins. They’re also notable for being a superb source of vitamin B12: one little can provides more than three times the DV of this often-missed nutrient. And because sardines are low on the marine food chain, they are lower in toxins such as mercury. Fresh sardines are usually available during the summer months, otherwise you can opt for BPA-free cans or pouches.

More Uses for Sardines

For a tapas-style dish, marinate sardines in a citrus-herb mixture and grill or sauté until slightly crispy. For another layer of flavor, add sardines to a homemade or purchased tomato sauce. Break up sardines gently with a spoon as the sauce heats (taste as you go and reduce or eliminate added salt as sardines usually contain enough).

Recipe:Sardine & Cherry Tomato Spaghetti with Orange Bread Crumbs

17. Garlic

Heart Health

Garlic is one of the oldest medicinal foods on the planet. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, one of the earliest herbal medical texts, mentions garlic repeatedly. In ancient times, garlic was used to treat everything from leprosy and toothache to chest pain. But garlic is hardly just a folk remedy. Consider this: In numerous studies, garlic has been shown to be lipid lowering, anticlotting, antihypertensive, antioxidant and antimicrobial. Impressive? We think so! The key to the astonishingly wide range of health benefits in garlic seems to lie in a compound called allicin, which is created from the reaction of two other compounds – alliin and alliinase. Nature designed it so that the alliin and alliinase live in different parts of the garlic clove, so how you prep garlic is critical for the creation of allicin. Crushing or chopping garlic releases the enzyme alliinase, which reacts with the chemical alliin to form allicin. To get the most out of garlic’s primo health benefits, crush or chop garlic cloves (the finer the better) to join the active compounds and let them sit for 15 minutes before using.

More Uses for Garlic

Garlic makes a delicious addition to virtually any sauce or vinaigrette. For a milder flavor, opt for roasted garlic, as used in this recipe, and toss cloves onto everything from sandwiches to pizzas and even desserts (yes, roasted garlic ice cream is surprisingly good!). Try blending roasted garlic cloves with your favorite dip ingredients, such as fresh herbs, sour cream or yogurt and cheese, for a pungent and delicious dip.

Recipe:Chicken in Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce with Broccoli

18. Cacao Nibs

Anti-Inflammatory

It’s not uncommon to hear about the merits of dark chocolate, but you don’t often hear about dark chocolate’s less-processed relative, cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are pure cacao beans from the fruit of the cacao tree that have been harvested, fermented and dried, then peeled and broken up into pieces. (Note that cacao beans that are cleaned, roasted and processed after being dried are classified as cocoa, which is the more processed form of cacao.) What do cacao nibs and dark chocolate have in common? They both contain antioxidant flavanols, which are widely thought to carry a host of health benefits. One study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that women with the highest weekly chocolate intake (45 grams or more) had a lower incidence of stroke compared to women who consumed the least amount of chocolate. These flavanols are also known to help lower blood pressure and act as an anti-inflammatory and vasodilator, meaning they open up the body’s blood vessels and arteries. According to a study published in The BMJ, higher levels of chocolate consumption are associated with a whopping 37% reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Where cacao nibs differ from dark chocolate is in fiber content – nibs contain a lot more, about 9 grams per ounce. Cacao nibs also contain a natural chemical called phenylethylamine, which speeds up the body’s pulse, making one feel more alert and focused.

More Uses for Cacao Nibs

Add to homemade granola, trail mix or pancakes instead of chocolate chips; sprinkle on yogurt and oatmeal.

Recipe:Cacao-Crusted Lamb Chops with Pear & Red Wine Reduction

19. Blueberries

Memory Food

The ultimate anti-aging memory food, blueberries contain compounds that help brain neurons communicate more effectively. Some studies have shown that eating blueberries daily dramatically slows the deterioration of memory and motor coordination associated with aging. Worsening eyesight is another predicament of aging. But blueberries might be able to help with that, too! Studies have found that blueberries may help improve night vision and reduce eyestrain. Blueberries and other dark purple-blue berries contain compounds called anthocyanins that act as both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. This protective feature is critical, since inflammation and oxidative stress are risk factors for virtually every chronic disease, from Alzheimer’s and diabetes

More Uses for Blueberries

Cooked-down blueberries make an excellent naturally sweet glaze for meats or stronger-flavored fish such as salmon. Simply cook fresh blueberries in a saucepan with a bit of lime juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt until the mixture is lightly syrupy, mashing the berries down as they cook.

Recipe: Kale Salad with Blueberry Ginger Dressing

20. Sorghum

Naturally Gluten-Free

If you’re trying to avoid gluten, it’s preferable to seek out whole foods that are naturally gluten free than foods that have been extensively processed to have the gluten removed. And sorghum – a delicious, chewy whole grain – fits the bill perfectly. In 2013, researchers published a study of the sorghum genome in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and confirmed it is completely gluten free and safe for people with celiac disease. Additionally, compounds in sorghum bran with high antioxidant properties may inhibit the development of type 2 diabetes. Other compounds called 3-deoxyanthocyanins – found mostly in darker sorghums and to a lesser extent in white sorghums – have been found to display strong blocking activity against the proliferation of human colon cancer cells.

More Uses for Sorghum

Toss cooked sorghum with roasted veggies and your favorite vinaigrette for a hearty grain salad, or pop on the stove top as you would pop popcorn.

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Sorghum

Top 10 Superfoods You Should Really Be Eating

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No…. it’s a superfood!

Whilst superfoods are actually unable to fly and I can’t promise that eating them will give you super human powers (such as the massive strength boost that spinach gives to Popeye), the NHS do emphasise their importance in avoiding long-term illness.

The 10 Best Superfoods

If you’re anything like me you sometimes find it difficult and time consuming to eat a healthy balanced diet. But with these readily available ingredients along with some delicious recipes that are easy to whip up you can get yourself some pretty cool super powers! Well maybe not, but you’ll certainly be filling yourself up with some of the healthiest foods out there.

  1. Garlic

    It may not be the best compliment to a conversation but it’s certainly the perfect compliment to many recipes, like this garlic risotto. It is one of the most indispensable ingredients around and can even be used as a raw superfood in dressings, salsa and butters.

  2. Blueberries

    If superfood smoothies are your thing then you need to be throwing these berries in your blender by the bunch. Not only are they full of taste they also pack a powerful nutritional punch and are one of the superfoods for weight loss.

  3. Broccoli

    It’s the classic. Whenever I can’t make up my mind about what green I want on my plate I always choose broccoli for its reputation as the original superfood. And it’s easy to jazz up into a deliciously creamy vegetable gnocchi – yes please!

  4. Oats

    It doesn’t get much easier than pouring a load of these guys out into your bowl. It seems unfair to be able to get so many nutritional benefits for so little effort, but we’ll take it. Whether it’s with porridge, yoghurt, honey, fresh fruit…. these fibrous grains can add nutrition to a whole host of foods.

  5. Eggs

    It doesn’t matter what came first let’s just be thankful that chickens lay eggs. They’re an essential source of protein and if you want to crack a new way of cooking them check out the recipe for dukkah-rolled middle eastern eggs.

  6. Spinach

    Whilst it may not make you as strong as Popeye it’s a raw superfood for weight loss that also maintains its nutrients cooked. It goes with anything from a salad to a curry and certainly adds a nice touch to this Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry.

  7. Cocoa nibs

    Yep… It’s basically chocolate – booya! Cocoa nib flavours range anywhere from extremely bitter to super sweet. They’re great to sprinkle into a superfood smoothie or a cake mix, and can add some really interesting flavours to your savoury snacks.

  8. Don’t let this one leap out of your shopping basket. The oil rich fish will give you the energy to swim up stream amongst the strongest. Follow this Mexican salmon steak recipe and your taste buds will be jumping around like a bunch of hombres at a mariachi festival.

  9. Almonds

    You’d be nuts to neglect these nutrient filled shells. They’re absolutely packed with fiber. They can be eaten raw or added to salads, casseroles, Thai dishes and plenty more.

  10. Kale

    It’s not the new kid on the block anymore as this member of the cabbage family has been recognised as a superfood for a while. And it’s available all year round for you to add to your shopping list.

What do you think our of top ten superfoods? Are there any nutritious pick-me-ups that we’ve left out? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re in need of more delicious ingredients and cooking ideas – don’t forget to check out our amazing collection of recipes ideas in our cookbook.

© Provided by Meredith Corporation

Over 1,300 registered dietitians weighed in for the annual survey of “What’s Trending in Nutrition” taken by Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian to create this list of top 10 superfoods of 2019. Here’s what they think will rise to the top, including the three new additions to the list that replace kale, green tea, and salmon, which have been on the list the past couple years.

The term “superfood” is a point of frustration among many dietitians. There’s no regulation or scientific definition of the term, which causes some foods to be overhyped and touted as miracle foods. Surprise, there’s really no one food that’ll help you live forever! But foods given superfood designation do always have some reason for it, whether the food is high in omega-3 fatty acids, is a source of healthy bacteria to encourage gut health, is high in heart-healthy soluble fiber, or contains any number of nutrients or phytochemicals that promote good health. A list of so-called superfoods could be virtually endless, depending on who you ask, but according to nutrition experts these are the 10 foods we’ll be seeing rise to the top in 2019:

© Provided by Meredith Corporation

10. Non-Dairy Milks

A new addition to the 2019 list of superfoods, we’re not surprised to see non-dairy milk make the cut. Just look at the milk section of your grocery store. You don’t even need to go to the health food department or special nutrition stores to find dozens of nut milks, trendy oat milk, soy milk, hemp milk, and more.

© Serezniy/Getty Images A glass of coconut milk and coconuts.

9. Coconut Products

It seems we may be past the peak of the coconut craze due to things like a Harvard professor referring to coconut oil “pure poison” and new saturated fat guidelines from the World Health Organization. In case you didn’t know, one tablespoon of coconut oil has about 13.5 grams of fat and about 11 grams of that is saturated! Many dietitians were surprised to see the surge in its popularity a few years back for precisely this reason, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away for good, as it still comes in at the same number nine position it took last year.

© Corbis Nuts contain protein, fats, and fibre giving you the extra calories you need to bulk up without giving you love handles. Almonds are especially high in vitamin E – a potent antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after a heavy workout and helps your muscles recover quicker. Eat two handfuls a day for optimum results.

8. Nuts

A regular on the list of superfoods put together by this survey, nuts are a source of non-animal protein, good fats, fiber, and a variety of good-for-you minerals. With the growth of plant-based eating and the impressive nutrition profile, this is one “superfood” we can all agree on.

© Corbis

7. Beets

Beets are another newcomer to the superfood list this year. We know, as an ingredient beets are controversial. Some think they’re purely delicious, while some only taste dirt. But there’s no arguing their growth in popularity in beet and goat cheese salads, or packaged beet noodles. No arguing nutrition either. One cup cooked is full of fat-soluble vitamins A and K, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, potassium, and fiber. So, if you’re on team “it tastes like dirt,” it’s time to try beets pickled, roasted, or other new ways so you can reap the benefits.

© Provided by Meredith Corporation

6. Blueberries

Surprisingly, blueberries are new to the list in 2019. They’ve long been on other lists of superfoods due to their high antioxidant and fiber levels and anti-inflammatory abilities. Plus, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like eating them.

5. Exotic Fruits

While exotic fruits may not spring to mind when someone asks you to name a superfood, they’re a regular on this list. The trend is due, at least in part, to the popularity of smoothie bowls and acai bowls. Prepare to start seeing more recipes and foods with acai, goji berries, and golden berries this year.

© Provided by Meredith Corporation

4. Ancient Grains

Surely by now you’ve heard this term to identify farro, teff, quinoa, amaranth, spelt, and more. Another food with no strict definition, the whole grains council generally defines ancient grains as grains that are mostly unchanged over the last several hundred years. So today’s wheat would not fit the definition, but spelt (part of the wheat family) is.

3. Seeds

Back in the number three position, seeds may not be the most glamourous of foods, but if you haven’t been adding chia, flax, pepitas, hemp, sesame, and all the other seeds to your foods you’re missing out on fun flavors, fiber, loads of different minerals, and healthy fats.

© Provided by Meredith Corporation

2. Avocado

Also back in the number two spot is everyone’s favorite reptilian-looking food—avocado! Loaded with nearly 20 minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients such as monounsaturated fat, fiber, magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, and vitamin E avocados are nutritional powerhouses (when you don’t eat them by the case!) and you can put them in just about everything! See our avocado recipes to see what we mean.

© Provided by Meredith Corporation

1. Fermented Foods

Reclaiming its throne for the second consecutive year is fermented foods. This includes foods like yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. Why number one? Because we want healthy guts! New science is emerging daily on the benefits of a healthy gut and how it impacts so much of our overall health.

Top 10+ Superfoods List

Incorporating nutrient dense foods from the top 10 superfoods list into your diet every day is a great way to support health and healing.

There are hundreds of super foods to choose from, so you have a many choices. Many nutritious foods and beverages are available in your local stores and farmer’s markets. For your convenience, this superfoods list is made up of categories of healthy food choices, instead of just specific foods or the exotic and expensive super food of the week.

For the most health benefits and enjoyment, incorporate a wide variety of nutrient dense foods from the superfoods list into your daily diet to meet all your nutritional needs. When cooked and prepared according to wise practices, you’ll reap the rewards of better health, energy, and longevity.

Superfoods are first and foremost whole and wholesome foods that are minimally processed, if at all. Nutrient-dense refers to foods that supply a generous amount of high quality fats, proteins, minerals and/or antioxidants for their calorie count. Think of them as the opposite of empty calories that provide little or no nutritional value.

Claims about top foods are generally backed by solid research. Many of them support healthy aging and immune function. Superfoods offer protection against heart disease, various types of cancer, and reduce inflammation.

Nutritional superstars are in ready supply at grocery and health food stores. Some are familiar and are part of your diet already. In general, they include most vegetables, seeds, legumes, nuts, fruits, and complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes. Other nutritious foods, such as superfoods green powder and sea vegetables are less familiar.

Almost any naturally grown,organic, fully ripened fresh fruit or vegetable can make the superfoods list. This is also true of pastured animals raised as nature intended or wild-caught for food.

Likewise, what should be the healthiest foods lose their benefits when grown on poor soil or are overcooked and over-processed.

For example, an organic apple is a super food. Super heated dried pesticide-laden apple bits found in most muffins are not. Fresh pressed raw apple cider is a superfood. Canned pasteurized apple juice iwith all the fiber removed is not.

Healthy Superfoods List

1-Berries

Enjoy a variety of fresh and frozen berries. Healthful berries include acai, goji, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Eat them fresh and whole, or toss them into smoothies, fruit salads, with yogurt or baked into healthy desserts.

  • Elderberries are known for their anti-viral properties. Add them to berry syrups, fruit pies, and teas. Find an easy recipe for tasty elderberry syrup here.
  • Acai berry has received a lot of attention lately as an energy fruit rich in antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids. It has an almost perfect essential amino acid complex. Its monounsaturated fatty acids are similar to those of olive oil. Acai contains heart protecting phytosterols and trace minerals. Of all fruits and vegetables it has one of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scores. Lab studies show it highly protective against colon cancer and leukemia.
  • Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, phytoflavonoids, potassium and Vitamin C. They help reduce inflammation, heart disease risk and protect against certain cancers.

A group of anti-oxidants called anthocyanins, puts dark blue and purple berries on the superstar superfoods list. Anthocyanin rich foods have a multitude of health benefits including:

  1. They protect the micro-vascular system, including tiny blood vessels to the eyes.
  2. They possess antiviral, antiparasitic, antibacterial properties.
  3. They inhibit DNA damage and inflammatory gene expression.
  4. They induce cell death of certain cancers and metabolize foreign chemical substances and carcinogens
  5. Anthrocyanins enhance glucose metabolism and reduce absorption.
  6. They inhibit LDL oxidation, reduce capillary permeability, boost nitric oxide and improve lipid profiles.

Other sources of this potent anti-oxidant are blue corn, cherries (especially tart cherries, pomegranates, grapes, raspberries, prunes, kale and strawberries. (Source: Life Extension magazine, July 2013)

2-Alliums

Garlic, onions, shallots, chives, scallions and leeks are familiar culinary staples called alliums. Use your favorite alliums liberally in soups, stews and other dishes. These vegetables make the superfoods list because they are rich sources of flavonoids that stimulate the liver to produce glutathione, its most potent antioxidant for natural detoxification. Glutathione aids the elimination of carcinogens and toxins in the liver.

  • Garlic lowers blood clot risk. It encourages the immune system to produce more natural killer cells to fight infections and tumors. Garlic is a anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It is best eaten raw or very lightly heated. Smash the garlic and let it sit for a few minutes before eating to activate the compounds.
  • Onions are known for their heart-healthy benefits. They are a rich source of sulfur and the antioxidant quercetin.

3-Orange and Red Vegetables and Fruit

Peppers of all colors, melons, sweet potatoes, oranges, vine-ripened tomatoes and red cabbage are nutritional superstars. They provide healthful flavonoids, anti-oxidants, nutrients and fiber.

  • Orange fruits and vegetables are rich sources of beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
  • Lycopene is the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color. Cook the tomatoes and eat with a little olive oil or other oil, to boost bioavailability and absorption. Lycopene protects against various cancers, especially prostate cancer, diabetes. In addition to being an anti-oxidant, it facilitates cell-to-cell communication, stimulates the immune system, regulates endocrine communication pathways and regulates cell reproduction, which prevents cancer development.

Carotenoids in pumpkins, sweet potatoes and carrots help the immune system defend against cancer and aging.

4- Sea Vegetables

A variety of sea vegetables, commonly called seaweed, make the top 10 superfoods list because they are amazingly rich sources of vitamins and minerals.

Kelp is an excellent source of iodine. These vegetables hide well in soups and stews. Sprinkle in a spoonful of powder or flakes. No one will ever know. Or add a sheet of seaweed and let it cook in the stock. Remove before serving.

5- Green Superfood

When Mom said, “Eat your greens”, she knew what she was talking about.

Greens are one of the first foods that pop into mind when someone asks, “What are superfoods?”, and for good reason. Greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, phytonutrients and fiber.

  • Barley grass and wheat grass are green all-stars. They are often sold in powdered form for drinking. If the taste is not for you, you can camouflage it in a berry smoothie. This is a good way to add more greens to your diet. Some people have pots of them growing in their homes for juicing.
  • You won’t get muscles like Popeye from eating spinach. It does protect your eyes from macular degeneration and your cardiovascular system from disease.
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables earn a place on the superfoods list in more than one category because they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They contain sulforaphane, which boosts liver detoxification and fights cancer because of its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.
  • Kale has become a cruciferous super food favorite, making its way into smoothies, soups and bags of chips. Kale contains high amounts of polyphenol sulforaphane, fiber and other beneficial compounds. It is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two eye protecting carotenoids that absorb blue light. Kale stimulates production of Ig (immunoglobulin). These proteins are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign invaders. Cooked kale is more effective than raw kale at producing IgA.

Vary your greens to get the full complement of their superfood goodness.

Limit oxalate rich greens (chard, beet, spinach, kale) if they cause you problems. Boiling and draining them first reduces the amount significantly.

Not a fan of eating lots of greens? Enjoy a daily serving of powdered greens in a smoothie or in juice or water. Lots of people (including me) think Amazing Greens tastes really good.

6- Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a top 10 super food yummy treat! An ounce or so of minimally processed dark chocolate a day is a great source of antioxidants and magnesium.

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better – at least 70% is best. For the most benefit, buy raw cacao as the nibs or powder.

7-Fermented, Cultured Superfoods

Fermented, cultured foods make the top 10 superfoods list because they deliver healthy bacteria to the gut. Probiotics are essential to a healthy immune system and digestion. These foods have a long history as dietary staples. In some traditions, a small serving of cultured vegetables is served with the daily meal.

  • Yogurt and kefir are rich sources of dairy protein and calcium. They are easier on your digestion than milk because the bacteria have predigested it. Greek yogurt has become a real favorite. It is high in protein and ittle or no sugar is needed to make it taste good. Kefir is made from different cultures than yogurt and is usually a fizzy, thick, sour drink. Yogurt and kefir are easily made at home. Make sure the label says that the product contains live or active cultures without added sugar.
  • Natto, raw sauerkraut and a variety of cultured vegetables are rich in vitamins, enzymes and healthy bacteria. You can make cultured vegetables at home with starter cultures. In order to get these beneficial live cultures from purchased cultured foods, you must purchase refrigerated varieties.

Goat milk kefir and homemade sauerkraut

8- Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber-rich foods make the top 10 superfoods list because fiber is essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system. It helps you feel full longer after a meal, making it a weight loss ally, absorbs toxins on the way out of the body, and feeds healthy bacteria in intestines.

Soluble fiber promotes healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and bulks up stools. Your body needs both kinds. Manufacturers add inulin (mostly from chicory root) to foods as fiber. This type of fiber feeds healthy bacteria, but does not offer the same benefits as soluble and insoluble fiber.

Excellent sources of fiber include whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans and whole grains properly prepared.

If you are sensitive to glutenous grains, try buckwheat. Buckwheat is a gluten-free fruit. It contains all eight essential amino acids and is a better source of complete protein than soybeans. It can be ground into flour or eaten as a hot cereal.

Many of these foods offer a multitude of health benefits in addition to fiber.

  • One favorite is lentils, which have been a staple in Middle Eastern, European, African and Indian cuisine for thousands of years. Lentils are rich in phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Not surprisingly, this makes it a superstar for lowering risk of certain cancers, metabolic syndrome and diabetes when eaten at least twice a week in place of high glycemic carbohydrates. Need ideas for cooking lentils? Here are some recipes to try.
  • Mung beans are a superfoods list superstar with a generous supply of protein, folate, potassium, magnesium, and phenols. These nutrients plus resistant starch and soluble and insoluble fiber makes them a great health ally against premature aging, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. One cup of cooked beans provides a whopping 15.4 mg of dietary fiber. Like other high-fiber beans, they combat overeating by keeping you feeling full longer. Mung beans have been shown to inhibit LDL oxidation and high blood pressure, lower triglycerides and blood glucose levels, and inhibit inflammation and the formation of advanced glycation end products. (Source: The Mighty Mung Bean)
  • Chia and ground flax seeds make the superfoods list because they are rich in insoluble fiber, soluble fiber and ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in seeds. Chia seeds provide you with complete protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and other vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds are rich in lignans, which may be protective against estrogen induced cancers and lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Both seeds make good thickeners when added to food and beverages and can replace eggs in some baking recipes. To make a flax or chia egg, mix one tablespoon ground seeds with three tablespoons of water. Let sit and thicken for 15 minutes before adding to the recipe in place of eggs.

Did you know? 8th-century King Charles the Great passed a law requiring all his subjects to eat flax seeds because they are so healthy.

9-Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds make the superfoods list because they are a good source of protein, heart-healthy fats and antioxidants.

  • Pistachios contain cholesterol lowering plant sterols.
  • Brazil nuts contain selenium for cancer protection.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in prostate protecting zinc.
  • Pomegranate seeds are noted for keeping LDL cholesterol from oxidizing.
  • Ground Flax seeds can be added to baked goods, smoothies and cereal. They are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), fiber and antioxidant lignans, which makes them a superfoods list powerhouse. They have been shown to lower blood pressure, LDL and total cholesterol, inflammation, cancer risk and insulin resistance. A tablespoon or so of ground seeds with plenty of water helps relieve constipation. One caveat – make sure you grind the seeds so they don’t pass through whole and make sure you store ground seeds in the freezer or refrigerator (up to a week or so). The oil gets rancid within 20 minutes otherwise.

Eat one ounce of nuts a day to enjoy their benefits, including appetite control. A small handful makes a great snack.

If nuts feel too heavy in your stomach, soak them overnight in water, then dry them in a dehydrator or the lowest setting of your oven. This enhances taste and digestibility. Delicious!

10-Quality Proteins

Protein makes the superfoods list because it is the essential nutrient used in building and repairing body tissues. It is a building block of enzymes and hormones.

Tradition often dictates that animal proteins be eaten raw. This is not always practical or safe in modern times. If you do eat raw meat or fish, freeze it for at least two weeks to kill any parasites. To protect proteins from damage, cook meats for longer periods at low heat, preferably below 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • The much maligned egg has finely re-earned its place on the superfoods list. Eggs contain twelve vitamins and minerals including choline for memory and brain development. Hard-boiled eggs make a nutritious snack.
  • Wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are good sources of quality protein and essential Omega-3 fatty acids that protect against heart disease, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, and depression.
  • Chicken and turkey are lean sources of protein. Find anti-biotic free, humanely sources
  • Grass-fed beef, buffalo and venison are naturally low in saturated fats. Grain fed beef is unnaturally high in saturated fats.

Many plant foods contain good quality protein. It is not necessary to eat meat if you prefer not to, although for good health, some people must include small amounts of fish or meat in their diet. Animal protein is acid-forming, so it is best to limit your portions to a few small servings a week. 3-5 ounces at a time is plenty.

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Include a variety of nutrient-dense foods from the top 10 superfoods list in each meal as part of your daily diet. It is especially easy to include these foods in your diet when you drink some of them. Nutritious drinks such as berry superfood smoothies and green tea add a real boost of healthy nutrients and are tasty too.

For more ways to improve your well-being, visit the Healthy Living Guide.

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