Turbo-Charge Your Nutrition With Superfoods
Not all foods are created equal. Even among natural or health foods, nutritional content and density varies widely. If you’re looking to get the most health bang for your food buck, explore superfoods — foods that contain a high phytonutrient content which, research indicates, may positively impact overall health and immune response. Below is a list of 14 foods commonly considered to be part of the superfood category:
Blueberries: Packed with antioxidants and high in potassium and vitamin C, blueberries are great for toping cereal, adding to yogurt or eating on-the-go.
Beans: A great and inexpensive source of low-fat protein, beans are even more important for those on meat-free diets. The high fiber content of beans can promote colon health and their iron, potassium, and magnesium content are important phytonutrients in fighting cancer.
Broccoli: Packed with vitamins C and K, broccoli is also a great source of fiber, iron, calcium and folate.
Oats: Oats are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. B-vitamins, fiber, protein, zinc, copper and potassium are all found in this whole grain.
Oranges: It’s not just the vitamin-C that helps oranges make the superfood list. Oranges (as well as other citrus fruits) contain flavinoids – powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer by preventing initial cell mutations in the body.
Pumpkin: It’s not just for Thanksgiving — embrace pumpkin every season. Its alpha carotene, beta carotene, vitamins C and E make it an essential part of a nutrient-rich diet.
Wild Salmon: Lean protein, vitamin B, and Omega-3 fatty acids are all found in salmon. Look for wild-caught salmon – it’s less likely to contain contaminants than farm-raised.
Soy: A 2003 study by The Journal of the American Medical Association found that a diet rich in soy fiber lowered cholesterol as much as the often-prescribed statins. Good sources of soy are edamame, tofu and soy milk.
Spinach: Spinach packs a punch – it’s low in calories, yet high in protein, iron, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, K and C.
Green tea or black tea: Both green and black tea have antioxidant properties. Green tea has the added benefit of ECGC a particularly powerful antioxidant that’s been shown to lower bad cholesterol and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain lycopene – a powerful antioxidant also found in other red fruits like strawberries, watermelon and cherries. Preliminary research indicates that lycopene may be especially beneficial in preventing prostate cancer.
Turkey: Rich in iron, B vitamins and zinc, turkey is a versatile alternative to beef.
Walnuts: Walnuts are power-packed with fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamins E and B6.
Yogurt: Yogurt contains probiotics — live bacteria important to proper digestion. Calcium, B vitamins and protein also help make yogurt an important part of healthy eating.
As with any lifestyle or dietary change, it’s always a good idea to first seek advice from your physician, especially if you have a particular health concern. But as the body of research grows, superfoods are fast becoming recognized as essential ingredients in a well-rounded, nutrient-conscious diet plan. If you struggle with embracing a particular diet or nutritional regimen, try adding a few superfoods to your menu each day, then work your way up to integrating a few in each meal. As your familiarity with each food grows, challenge yourself a few times a week to create meals comprised entirely of superfood ingredients. I think you’ll be surprised at the flavor, variety, versatility and health benefits of embracing a diet rich in superfoods.