Generally speaking, superfoods are said to be foods that are nutritionally dense and are therefore highly beneficial to our health. These foods are most commonly plant-based although in some opinions can also be some fish and diary products. According to the American Heart Association, what defines a superfood can differ from one expert opinion to another, as there is no set criteria on what makes a food a superfood.
In saying that, most superfoods not only help to increase and maintain your daily vitamin and mineral needs, but are also instrumental in improving the way you feel each day and can assist in shedding those uncomfortable, extra pounds that you have been carrying around.
Nutrients found in superfoods include but are not limited to; antioxidants: said to prevent cancer, fiber: beneficial in relieving digestion problems and warding off diabetes, healthy fats: thought to prevent heart disease and phytochemicals: which are the chemicals found in plants that give them their smells and colouring and contain numerous profound health benefits for the body. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, superfoods will present anti-aging qualities as well as prevent chronic disease and will help you to achieve better health and will assist in a longer, happier and healthier life.
Most superfoods will give your body a mega dose of nutrients and will leave you feeling full of energy and feeling good. This is a great way to feel in comparison to the sluggishness and tiredness you feel after a consuming a diet full of highly processed, fast foods. Below is a list of superfoods and their benefits that will increase your nutrient intake and overall health when incorporated into your diet.
Blueberries contain very high levels of phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins C and K and manganese. This small but effective little berry has the ability to lower your risk of heart disease and cancer and is also an amazing anti-inflammatory. Incorporating a good anti-inflammatory into your diet is so important for maintaining good health, as inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases.
Sprinkle blueberries on yoghurt and cereals or just enjoy them on their own as a fresh and juicy snack. Nutritionists recommend approximately half a cup each day as the perfect amount.
Avocados are dense in vitamins C and K, folate and potassium as well as heart-healthy monosaturated fats. The monosaturated fat found in avocados is Oleic Acid, which helps to lower cholesterol. A study found that a diet that included avocados significantly decreased total and LDL “bad” cholesterol, as well as an increased by 11% in HDL “good” cholesterol. This buttery green fruit is also high in fiber and magnesium.
Avocados are so versatile, they can be incorporated into a variety of salads, dips, added to sandwiches, spread on toast or even sprinkled with salt and pepper and eaten on their own.
Most Nutritionists and Dieticians recommend incorporating fish into the diet at least twice a week. This recommendation is for good reason as fatty fish, like that of salmon, are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which work tirelessly to keep your heart healthy. Salmon also helps to reduce inflammation and increase brain health and is also rich in high-quality protein and is an excellent source of B vitamins and potassium.
Include salmon into your diet by either steaming or baking it with either a side salad or steamed vegetables or add it to your favorite pasta or rice dishes.
This dark, leafy green is a must in any healthy, superfood rich diet. Spinach is well known for its very high levels of vitamin A, which works to increase immunity, skin and vision. Spinach is also a great source of iron and calcium and has also been linked to the prevention of arthritis.
You can either cook spinach for one to two minutes, add it to a pie or dip, or you can enjoy it in its pure form in a salad.
Spirulina is a blue-green form of algae and is one of the most potent and nutrient dense of all superfoods. It contains higher protein than red meat (gram for gram) and contains all the essential fatty acids that your body needs, as well as containing antioxidants, vitamins B and E, minerals, beta-carotene and chlorophyll.
Found as a powder in most health food stores, enjoy spirulina in smoothies or sprinkle over your favorite foods for a high superfood hit.
Coconut and coconut oil are very high in the beneficial fatty acid “Triglycerides”. This type of fatty acid supports and maintains the health of your gut because of its bacteria-busting, antioxidant-induced properties. Triglycerides are used as an immediate source of energy, which means that this fatty acid is used as an energy source instead of stored in the body as fat. Coconut and coconut oils are also easy to digest and coconut oil has been deemed one of the best weight-loss foods of all time. Coconuts and coconut oil are also very good for nail and hair health.
Add coconut to any sweet dish and coconut meat makes a delicious and hearty addition to any smoothie or curry. Use coconut oil as your cooking oil for an extra hit of unrefined fatty acids.
Chia seeds are most notably the plant with the highest source of essential fatty acids. Chia seeds are the perfect superfood as they are almost tasteless and easy to digest and can be sprinkled on almost any dish. They are packed full of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium and one serving gives your body an all-round nutrient boost. This tiny little seed has also been recently linked to the reversal of type 2 diabetes.
Chia seed can be added to most dishes without disrupting the flavour but are well disguised in smoothies.
We all know that nuts are good for us, but did you know that almonds are the most nutrient dense of all the nuts? Almonds provide the body with magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin E. This nut is also very filling and high in healthy monosaturated fats, making it heart friendly as well as diet friendly. Almonds are known to lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and to also reduce blood pressure.
Almonds are a versatile nut and can be eaten raw, salted, smoked or activated. Almonds can also be made into gluten free flour or into a very nutritious butter.
Beetroot or beets are one hell of a superfood veggie. Recent studies have suggested that the strong purple hue of the vegetable (betalains) is the reason for its superfood status. This pigmentation is said to deter degenerative diseases such as cancer. If this fact is not enough to get beetroot on your shopping list, then the high amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals certainly should, as all of the healthy benefits of beets work together to prevent disease and strengthen vital organs.
Beetroot is amazing raw, grated into a salad or on a salad sandwich. In saying this, beets are most commonly cooked in order to achieve softness more versatile to dishes. You can also find beetroot in many healthy juices.
Superfoods are the way forward for any health conscious or health smart person. The above-mentioned list of superfoods is just the beginning to you new nutrient rich diet and high-energy lifestyle. Incorporating superfoods into your diet is a sure way to increase your health, prevent disease, lose weight and deter degenerative ailments such as cancer and diabetes.