Super foods, by definition, are foods that are known to be nutritionally dense, antioxidant-rich and natural, therefore providing immense benefits for the body. In addition to this, such foods also undergo minimal processing that ensures their healthy components are readily available for absorption in the body. Simply put, these are natural foods that have great raw nutrition and are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals. A closer look at the top super foods also reveals that they are extremely low in calories, making them a great addition to your diet.
With the popularity associated with these super foods, there has been a boom in the food industry with many products having the ‘superfood’ label. This has been steered, in part, by healthy eating trends in the market. A word of caution however: true super foods are rarely processed so as to maintain their nutritional value. As a result, they often do not have a long list of ingredients on the packaging.
As a matter of fact, most of these foods that you should include in your diet are rarely packaged as most of these are in their natural state. Some of the benefits of these super foods include improving one’s cardiovascular health, regulating blood sugar levels as well as regulating insulin production. Additionally, many super foods are also able to slow down the aging process, and typically have minimal side effects after ingestion. Below are the top 10 super foods that you realty need to include in your diet.
Blueberries rank among the best super foods, and for good reason. They are extremely rich in soluble fiber, antioxidants and vitamins which benefit the body in amazing ways. The presence of antioxidants, most notably the flavanoids and proanthocyandins, helps reduce oxidative stress in the body.
These antioxidants also help reduce inflammation in the body, in addition to protecting your memory and enhancing cognitive abilities. For this reason, blueberries are excellent at reducing the chances of developing conditions that affect the nervous system such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
These delicious berries have also been shown to have great benefits in the prevention of infections within the urinary tract system. Make a point of eating at least half a cup of blueberries daily (which is equivalent to one fruit serving) or drink it up to get the best health benefits.
TIP: Add blueberries to your cooked pancakes just before they finish cooking. Do not cook the berries as this destroys the valuable vitamins and antioxidants present.
These spike-like vegetables are a popular super food as they are particularly rich in Magnesium. If you are not sure how this is beneficial for the body, consider that Magnesium is required for more than 300 biological and chemical reactions in the body, chief among the, the generation of energy required to power metabolism.
This means that if the body is not producing enough energy, your muscles would have to work extremely hard to keep up with the demands. This leaves you feeling weak and exhausted. Keep in mind that that for women, the recommended intake is 320 milligrams daily.
A single medium-sized artichoke stocks up about 77 milligrams of Magnesium with approximately 60 calories. This low-calorie vegetable is your best bet if you are looking for a super food that will improve your energy levels.
Other excellent sources of Magnesium include legumes, whole grains and nuts.
Enjoy the amazing health benefits of garlic by incorporating it into your diet in at least one meal daily. Garlic is considered to be a super food thanks to its superb antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Most of these health benefits are attributed to the sulfur compounds present, and most notably allicin.
These compounds also act as antioxidants, which is where the cardiovascular benefits come in handy. By reducing the oxidative damage at the cellular level, garlic is able to protect the heart and reduce the levels of inflammation in the body.
Studies also indicate that eating cloves of garlic on a regular basis can help in the prevention of stomach and prostate cancer. Remember, to get the most of garlic’s benefits, you will need to crush or chop the cloves in order to activate the sulfur compounds. Let the chopped or crushed garlic stand for about 10 minutes for maximum healing potential.
TIP: A number of people find the natural smell of garlic a little overwhelming. To manage this, use a few slices of lemon after garlic preparation.
Enjoy the great benefits of these tasty dark green leaves and treat your body to the goodness that comes from spinach. Spinach is an excellent source of iron, which is integral to the proper development of red blood cells in circulation. Red blood cells are tasked with transporting oxygen to the cells and vital organs across the body.
They also fuel up the muscles with the oxygen that is required to produce energy. In recent years, researchers have discovered that these green iron powerhouses improve the functionality of mitochondria – the part of the cell that is charged with producing energy for the cells.
What’s more, spinach is also rich in fiber that prevents constipation and allows for normal bowel movement. Go ahead, grab that cup of spinach and enjoy getting charged up for the day ahead.
TIP: Spinach is a great alternative for vegetarians as it provides iron which is otherwise available in meat.
5. Olive Oil:
Olive oil is one of the most popular oils in the world. The pressing of olives releases one of the healthiest oils in the world. Tap into these benefits by taking just one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil daily. The main benefit associated with the oil is its ability to lower the levels of the ‘bad’ cholesterol (Low Density Lipoproteins- LDL) and increase those of the ‘good’ cholesterol (High Density Lipoproteins – HDL).
These properties are attributed to the presence of monosaturated fats that are good for your health. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants that play a great role in protecting the arterial walls from the accumulation of cholesterol while preventing oxidative damage to the cells. Add olive oil to your daily diet to help manage cholesterol levels in the body.
TIP: Go for virgin or extra virgin olive oil when making a purchase. This is recommended because such oils are only extracted through the pressing method. The use of heat and solvents for oil extraction destroys antioxidants and this reduces the nutritional benefits of the oil.
Broccoli is one of the top super foods that is easily available at the grocery section. This sulfur-laden vegetable stimulates the genes to improve enzyme production with the goal of destroying compounds that potentially cause cancer development.
In fact, research indicates that these benefits could well reduce the risk of getting stomach, breast and lung cancer. This is in addition to the fiber present in the vegetable. Take half a cup of cooked broccoli at least once daily.
TIP Do not overcook broccoli because it destroys its nutritional values. Instead, steam the broccoli for a couple of minutes. This is recommended because it makes the sulfur compounds readily available for absorption.
Oats make for a great breakfast meal, but more importantly, they are loaded with beta-glucan. This is a potent type of soluble fiber that is known for its ability to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure for a healthy you. In addition to this, beta-glucan has also been shown to contain anticoagulant properties that make it a heart-friendly food.
It is impossible to mention oat’s benefits without including its ability to improve the health of the bowels. There is no perfect way to start your day than with a bowl of oats. Take at least a bowl of oats daily and enjoy the health benefits of this easy-to-cook super food.
TIP: The type of oatmeal you purchase is really a matter of preference. You may choose instant oats or opt for steel-cut oats depending on what you’d love.
8. Ground Flaxseeds:
Flaxseeds are renowned for their lignans, a group of oestrogen-like compounds that work by blocking oestrogen receptros on the cells. This is an important benefit because the action is known to reduce the rate at which hormonal-based cancers develop. By acting like estrogen in the body, flaxseeds are able to maintain hormonal balance too.
Additionally, flaxseeds are also rich in fiber, which makes them ideal for improving bowel movements. Research also indicates that flaxseeds have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation, thus keeping certain conditions at bay. Find ways to include one or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your diet.
TIP: Ensure that the flaxseeds are ground, otherwise the seeds will be excreted in the exact same way they were ingested – whole. This way, you do not get to enjoy the benefits of the seeds.
Almonds are little nutrient-dense nuts that you must have in your diet at least once daily. One of the things that set these nuts apart from others is the high concentration of calcium. With 23 milligrams of calcium in every serving, it is easy to see why you need to get munching on these nuts.
In addition, almonds also pack a high level of Vitamin E that is invaluable for healthy glowing skin. The nuts are also rich in protein, so if you are lactose intolerant and/or do not take meat, then here is the perfect snack for you.
TIP: Go for unsalted almonds and remember to control your portions.
10. Fatty Fish:
Fatty fish are categorized as super foods because they are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Scientific research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are great for cardiovascular health. By reducing the triglyceride levels in the body, the fatty acids are your go-to choice for a healthy heart.
Other benefits of these fatty acids include improving mod, reducing inflammation as well as providing nutrients for the body. Examples of these fatty fish include salmon, mackerel and sardines.
TIP: Mercury present in these fish provides a challenge for many consumers. To counter this, you may opt for smaller fish within the food chain.
Other great super foods that your body will thank you for include chia seeds that are rich in antioxidants and high in fiber, beans for their high protein content, kiwi fruit for its antioxidants as well as whole grains.
The latter are preferred to refined grains because they have not undergone processing, which means that the nutrient-rich germ and bran are still intact to benefit the body. Make it a habit to include any of the aforementioned foods for great health benefits. Consult your nutritionist if you are uncertain about the different foods, or would like to get a particular regimen for yourself.