Although there’s nothing you can eat to give you superhero powers, you may have heard the term “superfoods” tossed around health circles. Superfoods are nutritionally dense foods, which means they are full of nutrients that help your body achieve ultimate health. Antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, and phytochemicals are just some of the nutrients that come from superfoods.
Superfoods do not have their own food group, but when consumed in variety as part of a well-balanced diet, they can help your body fight off cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and digestive issues, as well supply many other health benefits.
But what kinds of foods can be classified as “superfoods”? Here are the top 17, that you can easily find in any market, that will have you feeling super in no time.
Avocados are full of nutrients and can easily be incorporated into a variety of recipes. They contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats. These nutrients can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer, as well as inflammation in the body.
Beans aren’t just good for your heart. They contain low-fat protein, insoluble fiber (which lowers cholesterol), soluble fiber (you feel full longer), and a large variety of vitamins and trace minerals. So don’t just save beans as a side for your summer barbeques!
The great thing about berries is that there’s a variety of different kinds. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries are all superfoods full of antioxidants. They can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other inflammatory conditions, as well as help treat digestive and immune-related disorders.
Dark Leafy Greens
For many, dark leafy greens may not be a particular favorite, but they are powerful superfoods. They are significant sources of nutrients like folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and fiber. Dark leafy greens are particularly powerful against chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as particular types of cancer.
Types of dark leafy greens include kale, swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, and spinach.
Although well-known for their high cholesterol content, eggs are still a powerful superfood you should include in your well-balanced diet. They are a major source of B vitamins, choline, selenium, vitamin A, iron, high-quality protein, and phosphorus. Eggs also supply zeaxanthin and lutein, which are antioxidants that protect your vision and eye health.
Full of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and fiber, garlic may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. It also supports healthy immune function and prevent some cancer types. So who cares if your breath smells? Consume that garlic with confidence!
In addition to its calming effects, green tea has a number of health benefits. Its plethora of antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds promote strong anti-inflammatory effects. One particular antioxidant that green tea is full of, catechin epigallocatechin gallate, helps fight off chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In conjunction with the caffeine also contained in green tea, these nutrients may also help with weight loss.
As with most of the superfoods mentioned so far, ginger is full of antioxidants that can help fight off chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers. It may also help de-escalate nausea and pain from acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.
This less-known superfood closely resembles yogurt, only with a thinner consistency. Made from milk, kefir is a fermented beverage and contains protein, calcium, B vitamins, potassium, and probiotics. Kefir has been linked to reduced cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, improved digestion, and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s also less of a strain on those who are lactose intolerant than typical milk products.
If you want to avoid dairy, you can find kefir in non-dairy forms. For example, it can be made with coconut milk, rice milk, and coconut water.
Legumes include plant foods such as beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, and alfalfa. Full of B vitamins, various minerals, protein, and fiber, legumes can help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. They can also help you manage a healthy weight because they make you feel fuller for longer periods of time.
Top that pizza with mushrooms because they too are considered a superfood. Mushrooms are full of nutrients such as vitamin A, potassium, and fiber, as well as number of uncommon antioxidants. The antioxidants in mushrooms can reduce inflammation and fight certain cancer types. An added bonus is mushrooms are easy to incorporate into a variety of recipes.
Nuts and Seeds
Full of fiber, vegetarian protein, and heart-healthy fats, nuts and seeds are the perfect healthy snack. It’s an easy way to fight off heart disease, as well as oxidative stress. You also get a variety of nuts and seeds to choose from, including almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
That’s right: superfoods come in a variety of forms, including oil. Olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenolic compounds, which help with inflammation reduction. Olive oil can also decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as use its vitamins E and K content to fight off the negative effects of oxidative stress.
Although it should be consumed in moderation, salmon is also a popular superfood. Its healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, potassium, and selenium offer a number of health benefits. Salmon is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation. This superfood is also heart-healthy and helpful in weight management.
Need more vitamin K, folate, iodine, and fiber in your life? Try adding seaweed to your next creative recipe. Seaweed is a great source of these nutrients and can help fight off cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
You don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy both the taste and health benefits of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are excellent sources of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C, as well as carotenoids, which can reduce your risk of certain cancer types. Better yet, sweet potatoes won’t increase your blood sugar, which is especially good news if you have type 2 diabetes.
You not be familiar with this particular superfood. A bright yellow spice, turmeric contains curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Research has found that turmeric may help treat and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Try pairing it with black pepper for better absorption.
Now that you have your handy guide to superfoods, you’re ready to fight off anything unhealthy that comes your way! But remember this: with great power comes great responsibility. In the case of health and nutrition, this means maintaining a well-balanced diet with a variety of these superfoods in moderation.