Remember Popeye and his love of canned spinach? Every time he’d guzzle a can down he’d almost magically became stronger.
While it seemed far fetched, he was advocating the goodness contained in the leafy greens and although it may not have such a quick effect on our health, there are plenty of superfoods that can boost our health, strength and well-being.
Some Foods Do Have “Superpower”
While eating superfoods won’t give you instant muscles like Popeye, incorporating them into your diet can help you create a healthier lifestyle.
So what exactly are superfoods?
Superfoods aren’t a special acknowledged food group, but rather a label to identify the foods that are extra-rich in nutrients. Mainly plant-based, they contain large doses of vitamins and minerals that go towards helping us live a longer, healthier life. While the jury is still out on whether packing our diets full of superfoods is truly beneficial, many studies have found certain foods do help reverse ageing and reduce risk of cancers, heart disease and diabetes due to eliminating cell damage in the body.
Incorporating superfoods into your diet isn’t hard, you can always start by getting more raw foods
Health and diet go hand in hand. A balanced diet is crucial if we’re to live an optimum healthy life. Therefore, incorporating superfoods into our snacks and meals is a positive step and doesn’t require much effort to do.
When creating a healthier diet, eliminating processed foods is essential and replacing packaged, sugar, salt and fat-laden items with a focus on more raw food choices will get your health boosted.
Unprocessed food habits such as fresh fruit and vegetables, making food from scratch rather than buying ready-made meals and using wholegrains where possible will make it easier to switch to a more positive diet. Being mindful of where your food comes from and asking yourself if what you’re eating has had as little change from being plucked from its original source, is a good habit and mindset to adopt.
Superfoods are everywhere, easy to find and not expensive
With this in mind, here are 25 superfoods that you can easily incorporate into your diet.
Blueberries are a great, naturally sweet addition to your diet. Packed full of antioxidants, they help eliminate the free radicals that damage the cells in our body. This means they can help prevent cancer as well as premature ageing. They also help regulate blood sugar levels and even do a lot for the brain – they help with cognitive ability and protects the brain from damage caused by stress.
2. Green Tea
It’s widely known by now that drinking green tea will boost your health in a plethora of ways. It contains a huge amount of antioxidants in just one cup which goes towards reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, while increasing brain cognitive ability and brain function.
While it won’t give you muscles like Popeye, spinach does contain other nutrients that are great for your health. In fact, its nutrition reaches around most of the body from bone strength and eye health, to the immune system and brain function. This is because it surprisingly contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as a concentrated amount of essential vitamins.
These sweet treats are nature’s best and healthiest desserts. They are an excellent source of vitamin C which goes towards optimal immune function. It’s also been found that the antioxidants found in strawberries are particularly good at lowering high cholesterol.
There are many vitamins and minerals found in eggs but what makes them special is the high-quality of these nutrients. Since it’s designed to provide the optimum environment to a growing chick, this is no surprise. But it’s the protein content that makes eggs a superfood as it contains 9 essential amino acids along with iron, selenium, vitamin A and all the B vitamins.
Almonds are incredibly nutritionally-dense containing good amounts of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. They are thought to help lower bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure in combination with a low-calorie diet. Just make sure to eat them in moderation as just a handful will provide you with what you need.
This sour berry shouldn’t be left just for the Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner table. Cranberry juice is a great way to get the antioxidants that this fruit provides. Probably most known for clearing up yeast infections, they also reduce heart disease and can also help stop cancer cells from growing.
This is a great source of soluble fibre that your digestion will thank you for. But it has other powers that will boost your body functions including regulating blood sugar levels, lowering bad cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease.
While avocados are extremely high in fat and should be eaten in reasonable quantities, the average serving will add a lot to your health. Phytochemicals provide protection against cancers while the good fats help reduce bad cholesterol in the body. They’re also good for the blood as they promote good blood flow as well as lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing risks of heart disease. When eaten with other healthy foods, avocados help speed up nutrient-absorption in the body.
While many nuts are good for us, walnuts are particularly beneficial. In moderation they can boost energy levels due to high amounts of iron, manganese and zinc, they’re high in vitamin E making them great for the skin, and lowers blood pressure. Their high antioxidant content mean they help prevent cancers and help eliminate free radicals in the body.
This is one of many non plant-based superfoods that will benefit your diet. High in omega-3 fatty acids, regular portions of salmon is amazing for your brain. It also contain peptides which contain high anti-inflammatory properties and even improves your mood. Reduction in blood pressure, risk of heart disease and stroke are further benefits of eating this fish.
We all remember being told that our eyesight will become much better if we chomp down on our carrots, but it also provides many other benefits. These include improving skin conditions due to high amounts of vitamin A, regulate blood sugar and improve the immune system. But carotenoids are the best thing about carrots because they can help prevent many forms of cancer. Eating them raw will allow you to get the most benefits.
13. Goji Berries
Goji berries have exploded into the health-conscious world as the new superfood in town. This is because it contain 18 amino acids making them high in protein meaning increased muscle function, improvement in cognitive ability and boosting the nervous system.
Pomegranates provide a wide variety of health benefits. Not only are they high in fibre for good digestion, they slow down growth in prostate cancer, improves blood circulation and reduces bad cholesterol.
15. Kiwi Fruit
Kiwifruits tend to stay under the radar when it comes to their power. They’re extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C which means it will boost your immune system no end. It also removes toxins from the body and actually create protection for long term oxidative damage to DNA.
16. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have a multitude of benefits. They are high in vitamin C and A giving a boost to tissue and the immune health. But they also contain cancer-fighting antioxidants, regulate blood sugar and contain anti-inflammatory properties.
This spice has got a lot of good press lately. This is because it contains a high concentration of curcumin, an antioxidant. This means if you add this to your dishes you will be helping to prevent inflammation, viruses within the body, and osteoarthritic pain.
This probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when picking out superfoods to add to your meals, but seaweed packs a punch when it comes to essential nutrients. It’s main advantage is its amount of iodine which is hard to find in many other foods and prevents thyroid problems. It’s also extremely antioxidant-saturated and helps prevent depression, breast cancer, and help with hormone imbalance in women.
19. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are another superfood to become fashionable but they are for a reason. They contain many different antioxidants that prevent cancers, they’re a great source of omega-3 and protein as well as fibre. All these help with heart health, blood sugar levels, digestion health and optimum functioning of cells.
Not only are they packed full of essential vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, cauliflower contains glucosinolates which are amazing cancer-fighting compounds. They’ve even been found to interact with estrogen in women that helps prevent hormone-related cancers such common ones like cervical and breast cancer.
That purple colour contained in beetroot is the secret to its power. They contain betalains that are powerful antioxidants and are thought to ward off cancers and degenerative diseases. It also contains high amounts of iron and folate as well as nitrates and magnesium that help strengthen our vital organs.
Like carrots, broccoli is high in carotenoids. But what makes this green vegetable so special is its sulforaphane content. Sulforaphane basically takes cancer prevention to a whole other level by eliminating toxic chemicals from the body. It’s also high in fibre for improved digestion and are super great for the heart.
23. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are versatile to add to our diets. They are high in good fats which help with regulating hormones. But they also contain vitamin E, phosphorus, selenium, copper and vitamin B. All these help reduce heart disease, reduce high blood pressure, reduce the effects of osteoporosis and bone loss, and balances blood sugar levels reducing risk of developing diabetes.
Flaxseed contains plant omega-3 which is good news if you don’t like oily fish. It also contains compounds called lignans that are thought to prevent certain cancers such as endometrial and ovarian. They are extremely versatile so you can sprinkle them on salads or desserts such as yoghurt.
This small seed is a good alternative to rice or couscous but the advantage of switching to this superfood is that it contains all of the nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t naturally produce. It also packs a punch when it comes to protein so it’s a bonus for keeping our muscles strong.
Eliminating bad habits in our diets and switching to the concept of superfoods isn’t as hard as you think. Most of these foods can be easily added to meals and you don’t need to eat all of them to get overall nutritional benefits. Just pick a few to begin with and make them a staple part of your diet.