When trying to follow a healthier diet, there are certain foods that stand above the rest, the healthiest of the healthy, if you will. These foods are full of important vitamins and minerals that supercharge their benefits and impact on your body.
These aptly named superfoods are not their own type of category, so you do not need to eat a certain amount of them each day in the same way that you should aim for a certain amount of fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. However, adding some of these nutrient dense yet low calorie foods to your diet will go a long way in promoting your health.
As the name suggests, a superfood is a food that is super-healthy, more than a normal healthy food. This is because their nutritional profile offers exceptional health benefits, since they are often rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Antioxidants, in particular, are natural compounds that protect cells from free radical damage, lowering the risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. Vitamins and minerals are also crucial due to the role they play in normal body functioning; if you don’t get enough of these compounds, your body won’t be able to function optimally.
Some other compounds which superfoods may be high in include flavonoids, fiber, and healthy fats, all compounds that provide immense benefits to the body.
A general trend with superfoods is that they are primarily plant-based, but there are a few fish and dairy products that can be lumped into this category as well. Let’s explore some superfoods and the benefits they can offer you.
Berries are a great source of flavonoids, which help lower the risk of heart attacks, especially in women.
Antioxidants such as anthocyanins, resveratrol, and ellagic acid also abound in berries, protecting your cells from damage and potentially reducing the risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Other benefits are specific to the type of berry. For example, cranberries contain certain compounds that can help lower UTI risk, while blueberries are high in fiber and vitamin K.
Leafy greens are high in vitamin K, which helps promote bone health. They are also a great source of folate, which offers cardioprotective abilities and is crucial for pregnant mothers to prevent birth defects.
This type of fish is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, a crucial component of preventing heart disease because of its role in slowing the growth of arterial plaque and reducing cholesterol.
The star compound of green tea leaves is catechin, which is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and possesses anti-carcinogenic properties. In addition to its cancer-fighting abilities, green tea can also help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
Legumes are a low calorie option that still offer a significant amount of protein, which is crucial for cellular repair. They are also full of important minerals such as iron, folate, and potassium.
Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, which help reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, acting as a cardiovascular system protector.
Beyond healthy fats, though, avocados are also a great source of potassium, containing even more than a banana. Potassium helps prevent muscle cramps and keep your heart beat regular, so this is one mineral you don’t want to skip.
Chia seeds have close to everything. As a great source of fiber, they keep your digestive system moving while its antioxidants help protect your body from cell damage.
In addition to adding a great boost of flavor to your dish, garlic also boosts your immunity, offers anti-inflammatory properties, fights infection, and improves cardiovascular health.
In addition to garlic’s ability to fight infection, it may also be more effective against certain antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria than antibiotics, adding an additional benefit to this superfood.
Superfoods are not cure-all foods, but they do play a crucial role in preventing and treating many health problems and chronic diseases. So, whatever way you can add them to your diet, and the more often you consume them, the better results you will see.
When it comes to adding in more superfoods, the greatest tip is to try and replace processed foods with the superfoods listed above. This offers a double benefit of limiting the amount of simple carbohydrates, sugar, oil, and salt that are higher in processed food than superfoods and replacing these ingredients with nutrient-dense foods.
When making a stir fry or soup, add in some greens and garlic to reap these benefits. Don’t be afraid of adding spices to your meals, either, especially turmeric, oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, and ginger. Additionally, try to make your plate as colorful as possible to ensure you are adding more superfoods to your diet.
For those who consume a lot of beef and poultry, try swapping out these meats with fish to enjoy their healthy fat content.
Smoothies are also a great way to get in a lot of superfoods at once. Add in some fruits, greens, and top it off with some chia seeds to enjoy a tasty drink that offers a lot of nutrients.
While superfoods are not the solution to all health problems, adding superfoods to your diet can significantly help your body function better, allowing you to feel better and prevent the risk of certain chronic health conditions. Taking the time to properly fuel your body with nutrient-packed foods will make a big difference in your health, and adding in superfoods is a great first step.