What are Superfoods?
Although there is not any scientific or medical definition of “Superfood” it is generally considered to mean a food that is nutrient dense, containing large amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols. Have proven health benefits and no adverse or minimal side effects.
Eating superfoods may reduce the risk chronic illnesses and support a longer life. People who eat them are usually healthier and weigh less.
One thing superfoods all have in common is that they are whole, not processed, foods.
Mostly plant based, but also some wild caught fish (salmon, sardines). My top 12 Superfoods are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark Chocolate – my favorite
July is peak harvest season for blueberries making it National Blueberry Month. Nearly all blueberries are grown in North America. This plump summer berry is packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C. They are ranked the highest of all fruit in antioxidants. They are low in calories, 1 cup has less then 100 calories, and has 14% of our recommended daily fiber and almost a fourth of our daily recommended Vitamin C.
Studies have shown that the blueberry may help bone density and strength. Also may reduce belly fat, improve digestion and promote urinary tract health. They contain the selenium, vitamins A, B-complex, C and E, zinc, sodium, potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Salmon/Sardines (Wild Caught)
The health benefits of wild caught salmon include cardiovascular health, muscle and tissue development, boosted eye health, and efficient body metabolism. It’s a good source of proteins, and fatty acids like Omega-3 in the form of triglyceride, as well as Vitamin D, Vitamin A and some of the Vitamin B family. It also contains minerals like selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
The sardine is a prime source of Vitamin B12 and contains high levels of tryptophan. They are also a great source of selenium, Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium and phosphorus. They provide cardiovascular benefits, promote strong bones and joint health. They provide increased eye health, and younger looking hair and skin due to the high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They have the most concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia, flax and hemp seeds contain protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They are high in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory and may help in reducing cholesterol levels. All are excellent add-ins for smoothies or oatmeal to help get our daily fiber requirements and to kick up our protein intake. Flax seeds need to be ground before consuming as the body can not digest the whole seed properly and you won’t get all the nutrients and the whole seeds may cause digestive problems.
All three contain protein, fats, phosphorous, calcium and copper. Along with Vitamins B and E as well as potassium, magnesium, iron and selenium. While chia and flax seeds have the edge in soluble fiber, hemp is higher in protein. Best bet would be to integrate all three into your diet.
Quinoa is gluten free and high in protein. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, rare in plant foods. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, Vitamins B and E, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and antioxidants. And it also contains protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, folate, copper, iron, zinc and potassium.
Good for heart health, digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure all due to it’s high fiber content.
Avocados have been given a bad rap because of their fat content. Truth is are bodies need fat and the proper fat in our diets is not the cause of the obesity epidemic. The fat in avocados is monounsaturated fatty acid, a fat our bodies burn easily for fuel. They are also low in sugar content. Avocados contain calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. They also contain minerals such as Vitamins C, B-6, B-12, A, D, K, E, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Furthermore, they are a great source of dietary fiber.
They can keep the eyes healthy, maintain healthy skin, protect the liver from damage, improve cardiovascular health, aid in digestion, full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to turn back the clock on aging. These are just a few of the benefits of eating avocado. Did I mention they also help with weight management?
Eggs are another food that has received bad press because of it’s cholesterol content. It was believed that they increased the cholesterol in our bodies. Another untruth for the majority of people. Eggs are known to actually raise HDL cholesterol (also known as the good cholesterol). Eggs are probably one of the most “perfect” foods in that they contain almost every nutrient needed by humans.
Of course not all eggs are created equal. Look for organic, pastured-raised eggs whenever possible. They are higher in nutrients and the all important omega-3 fatty acid then the conventional cage-raised that are few an unnatural diet. Omega-3’s are know to reduced triglycerides which plays an important part in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Beans are high in fiber and antioxidants. One cup of cooked beans contains nearly 12 grams of fiber. Almost half of the amount of fiber we should be getting on a daily basis. The average American diet contains about 15 grams of daily fiber. They tend to be high in protein, soluble fiber, folate, magnesium, iron, and potassium making them good for your heart health. The soluble fiber keeps you feeling full longer and help with weight management.
The nutrient value of legumes or beans depends on the variety. There is slight differences of vitamins and minerals depending on which bean you are eating. It is best to eat a variety of beans. Most common varieties of beans are: black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans (light and dark), white beans (cannellini and Great Northern), lima beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, lentils and black-eyed peas.
Almonds contain the most fiber and are the richest in Vitamin E then any other nut. They are rich source of Vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. They also contain zinc, selenium, copper and niacin. Studies have shown they are good for your brain, regulate cholesterol by increasing HDL and reducing LDL. They are good for your heart, bone strength and density, and help strengthen your immune system.
They can regulate your blood pressure, boost energy, help your skin look younger among other things. Many people think the fat in almonds is bad and will make you fat. Almonds contain two very important fatty acids, both linoleic and linolenic acids. These acids reduce inflammation in the entire body and help reduce the LDL cholesterol. The body can not create it’s own fatty acids and we must get them from our foods.
Almonds and nuts in general contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is also found in grains and legumes. Soaking of nuts, grains and legumes is essential for proper digestion. When eating un-soaked nuts or legumes, the phytic acid bines with the minerals in the gastrointestinal tract preventing complete absorption of the minerals.
The sweet potato is a powerhouse of nutritional benefits. High in Vitamins A, C and B-6 it also contains high amounts of pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese. Along with smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin and folate. Sweet potatoes contain no fats but because they are loaded with fiber they keep you feeling full longer.
Good for your heart, controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining energy. They have immunity and anti-inflammatory properties. Are good for your eyes, hair and skin. And help maintain a normal digestive tract.
They can be roasted, steamed, boiled, grilled, baked, mashed or added to a soup or stew. They can even be put into a smoothie or desserts.
Both kale and broccoli contain protein, are low in calories and high in fiber. They contain Vitamins A, C, E and K, folate and potassium. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss.
Both are high in antioxidants and may help reduce the risk of cancer and/or cardiovascular disease. May lower cholesterol, strengthen bone health and regulate blood sugar level.
Cinnamon – Studies have shown that just a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol. It may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar levels. It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. It is also antibacterial and may fight e-coli bacteria. Furthermore, it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, immunity-boosting, and cancer and heart disease-protecting properties.
Turmeric – Contains antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Contains protein, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamins C, E, and K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. May also reduce cholesterol levels, strengthen the immune system, may relieve mild to moderated arthritic pain and inflammation. For best adsorption of turmeric’s healthy properties it helps to consume black pepper with the turmeric.
Maca – Contains calcium, magnesium, and iron, in addition to C vitamin and vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12. Research has shown that maca contains two of the three essential fatty acids and around 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential amino acids. It has also been shown that maca root increases natural energy. And it is also packed with fiber.
Dark Chocolate 70% or more – my favorite
High in antioxidants, also contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. It may raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol, and help reduce blood pressure. It may also lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. And last but not least may improve brain function.
These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Pregnant or lactating women and persons with known medical conditions should consult a physician prior to the use of any of these products.