It’s an age-old adage: “You are what you eat.” Since we eat multiple times a day, research has long shown that what we eat can have a big impact on our overall health and wellness. Recently, greens and superfoods have been in the nutritional spotlight. But what are superfoods and which ones are the most nutritious? This blog will define superfoods and discuss the vitamins and nutrients some of the best superfoods contain. It will also provide a top superfoods list of some of the most common options and their benefits.
What Is a Superfood?While a superfood doesn’t wear a cape or have a secret identity, they do go around performing good deeds. That’s because the best superfoods are nutritional powerhouses packed with micronutrients including:
- Antioxidants: These natural compounds protect your cells from damage and may lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
- Minerals: These essential nutrients — calcium, potassium, iron and more — help your body perform at its highest level.
- Vitamins: While you can take vitamin supplements, research shows it’s better to get them from the food you eat.
- Fiber: Fiber helps decrease cholesterol, prevent heart disease and control glucose in Type 2 diabetes.
- Flavonoids: Found in plants, flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.
- Healthy fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (also known as “good fats”) help lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease and stroke.
17 Greens and SuperfoodsTo get the benefits of superfoods you don’t need to start following a superfood diet or living a superfood lifestyle. In fact, a lot of superfoods are foods you probably eat already.
- Apples: The soluble fiber in apples may help lower cholesterol and maintain healthy blood sugar levels by slowing the uptake of glucose. They’re also a source of potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, and antioxidants like vitamin C.
- Asparagus: The lycopene in asparagus has been found to protect the prostate and help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Asparagus contains protein and iron along with vitamin A — which is important for the immune system and eye health.
- Avocado: Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Bananas: These are a great source of potassium, which is beneficial for heart health. A banana’s fiber content also aids in digestion and keeps blood sugar levels from spiking.
- Blueberries: High in soluble fiber, blueberries can help lower cholesterol and slow glucose uptake, helping you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Blueberries also contain vitamins C and K, as well as antioxidants and manganese. Plus, they appear to lower blood pressure and may promote brain health, aid memory and fight against age-related cognitive decline.
- Broccoli: Antioxidants and vitamins such as A, C, B9 (folate) and K which can help your eyes, red blood cells, immune system, bones and tissues. It may also aid in the fight against certain cancers, including liver, breast, prostate and colon cancers.
- Coffee: Studies have found that coffee drinkers (regular or decaf) were less likely to die from heart and respiratory diseases, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes and infections. Coffee may also help protect women from breast cancer and also protect against other cancers. Research has also found that those who drank two cups or less of coffee a day in their 40s and 50s had a 65%lower rate of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank two cups a day.
- Eggs: The yolk contains nutrients that lower your risk of cataracts and age-related eye degeneration
- Greek yogurt: A serving of low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt may have twice the protein and half the sugar of its non-Greek counterpart. It also has more digestive-friendly probiotics than American-style yogurt.
- Green tea: The leaves used to make green tea are loaded with catechin, an antioxidant compound with anticarcinogenic properties that helps protect your cells from damage. Green tea is also associated with preventing cancer, fighting heart disease and lowering blood pressure.
- Leafy greens: These green superfoods include spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, watercress and more, and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants that have a positive effect on your health).
- Legumes: This broad category includes kidney, black, red and garbanzo beans, as well as soybeans and peas. Legumes are an excellent source of fiber, folate and plant-based protein.
- Nuts: These are a good source of plant protein. They also contain monounsaturated fats, which may be a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Oatmeal: A compound in oatmeal helps scrub the arteries and may protect against colon cancer. Plus, oatmeal is low-fat, high in protein and loaded with iron and other minerals.
- Salmon: High in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can help prevent heart disease.
- Tomatoes: These are high in vitamin C and lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
- Whole grains: A good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, whole grains also contain several B vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease and diabetes.