We all hear about the foods that taste good and are good for us. Doctors and nutritionists like to remind us about eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and similarly-nutritious foods all the time. However, the list of “healthy” foods is pretty long.
Few of us have the time or patience to diversify our diet and include all or even most of the healthy foods recommended by our physicians. Wouldn’t it be simpler to have a few superfoods that could provide us with the same nutrition as a hundred different “healthy” foods put together?
Fortunately, superfoods are real and are a great addition to any diet. To help you in your quest to lead a healthy life, we’ve compiled the following list of superfoods. While this is not a complete list of superfoods, it will be a great resource for improving your diet. In any case, before we start going through the list of superfoods, let’s look at a quick introduction to the concept of “superfoods.”
What Are Superfoods?
In essence, superfoods are simply healthy foods. However, superfoods take nutrition a step further. Rather than just having a few vitamins and minerals, superfoods are low in fattening elements and have an extremely high nutrition density.
In short, superfoods are foods that look normal on the outside but pack a very healthy punch on the inside!
So, now that you have a better understanding of the term superfoods, let’s look at the best 10 superfoods to add to your diet:
As they say: an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Apples are a great superfood for many reasons. They have the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. As an added bonus, apples benefit the respiratory system by helping to prevent lung cancer and asthma.
By consuming apples, your body gets fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and Vitamin C. Studies show that the real benefit comes from the synergistic interaction between all of the apple’s natural ingredients.
To best take advantage of the health benefits of apples, eat a wide variety (Fuji, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, etc.) and make sure that you eat the peel. Apple peels contain the vast majority of antioxidants in the fruit.
When you want to help your body absorb more nutrients, just have an avocado. Fat-soluble phytonutrients, like beta-carotene, are more easily absorbed by the body thanks to the monounsaturated fat in avocados.
Avocados also help you keep your weight down. When you eat an avocado, you tend to feel full very quickly, which encourages you to eat less. They are a calorie-rich superfood at 48 calories per ounce. So, to get the best results, eat one-third to one-half of an avocado two to three times a week.
When you want a little indulgence with your health food, try dark chocolate. It contains lots of polyphenols. These micronutrients can lower blood pressure and are a natural anti-inflammatory.
Keep in mind that milk chocolate will not deliver the same results. In fact, milk chocolate is not a health food at all. So, the next time you’re in the candy aisle, make sure to reach for the dark chocolate!
A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the effect on blood flow from high flavanol cocoa was similar to the effect of low-dose aspirin. This means that dark chocolate might be able to treat minor pain and headaches.
For the best results, use Newman’s Own Sweet Dart Chocolate. Dr. Steven G. Pratt found that it has more polyphenols than any other dark chocolate on the market. Like avocados, dark chocolate is high in calories, so shoot for no more than 100 calories per day.
No list of superfoods would be complete without at least one food from the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet and its benefits are outstanding.
It is a great substitute for other oils and fats, as it can reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer. Additionally, olive oil can lower blood pressure and improve the strength of your cardiovascular system.
For the best results, take a daily tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil that is cold-pressed and greenish in color. This green color helps you spot high levels of polyphenols.
Another component of the Mediterranean diet, garlic is great for your cardiovascular system. By eating garlic regularly, you can reduce your blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory agents and antibiotic properties.
To grab all the health benefits of garlic, eat one clove several times a week. Raw garlic is best, but cooked is good as well. Keep in mind that dried garlic and garlic supplements don’t have the same benefits as fresh garlic.
Honey is not often seen on a list of the best superfoods, but don’t let that fool you. Eating honey every day can increase the amounts of antioxidants in the blood. It can also help prevent constipation, reduce cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
If you are running low on energy, reach for honey, not sugar. Honey does a better job of maintaining blood sugar and energy levels than other sweeteners.
Also, be sure to choose dark honey over light honey, as dark honey is higher in antioxidants and usually has a more natural flavor. One to two teaspoons several times a week should do the trick!
If you want large quantities of Vitamin C and E, cut open a kiwi. Kiwis can reduce the risk of asthma, osteoarthritis, and colon cancer.
Additionally, kiwis boost your immune system. An interesting point to keep in mind is that dietary vitamin E appears to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. By consuming kiwis, you get vitamin E without the calories that most other vitamin E rich foods contain, like nuts and oils.
Another stellar ingredient is lutein, which lowers the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. To get all of the benefits listed above and reduce the risk of blood clots, consume one kiwi, two to three times per week.
For the benefits of onions, you can just reread the benefits of garlic, because they are pretty much the same!
Try to eat dishes containing onions at least three times a week. Make sure that you let the onion sit for 5 to 10 minutes after you cut it open. If you apply heat too soon, you will deactivate the thiopropanal sulfoxide, which is the substance in onions that provides healthy heart benefits. And remember, the more pungent the onion, the better it is for you!
Pomegranates are packed with tons of phytochemicals like potassium, which is great for lowering your blood pressure. Studies also suggest that pomegranates can slow the progression of prostate cancer and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Instead of fighting with the little pulpy seeds to get your dose of pomegranate, try four to eight ounces of 100% pomegranate juice several times a week. Be sure to stay away from juices with added sugar. If your pomegranate juice is high in sugar, it may do more harm than good!
Sometimes referred to as “beetroots,” beets are one of the best superfoods on this list. Unfortunately, most people don’t include enough beets in their diet. Beets can lower blood pressure and increase blood flow.
The latter benefit is especially popular among athletes who want to perform at peak levels.
Beets can be consumed in a variety of ways. Many people choose to pickle beets, though they can also be eaten raw. If you want to maximize the benefits and minimize your caloric intake, try a glass of beetroot juice one to two times per week.
Superfoods may seem like a new fad that will quickly die out, but that could not be farther from the truth. The items on this list of superfoods have always been nutrient-dense.
However, nutritionists have only discovered their true potential and benefits within the last few decades. Now we have more information than ever to improve our diets and live healthier, happier lives.
About the Author
Lori Bogedin is a health and wellness writer and editor of TwigsCafe.com. She is in the restaurant business since 1999. In 2016 she was named one of the "Top Women in Business" by Northeastern Pennsylvania Business Journal.