Superfoods are a health phenomenon that have been much debated (some have even put it down to a marketing term). Scientifically speaking, superfoods are non-existent, but the word stands for a bunch of foods that have extremely powerful health benefits, more so than other foods. So we would agree that these foods are pretty super!
Here are 8 of the most powerful superfoods and how to include them in your diet right now:
Over a century ago, bananas were actually the first food to be considered a superfood, and are where the term originated. Bananas are packed with a variety of nutrients from vitamins and minerals; the main vitamins and minerals being vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, and a high amount of antioxidants. Bananas also contain moderate calories, with one banana containing about 95 calories, and little fat. The potassium in bananas is responsible for improving and regulating blood flow and blood pressure. Bananas are also a great source of fiber and therefore good for digestion and one’s gut. Studies have also shown that bananas can improve one’s mental health as they contain Tryptophan, a protein that the body converts into serotonin! The carbohydrates in bananas help with energy for exercise, and are the reason the fruit is favored by athletes. Include bananas in your diet by adding it to your daily smoothies, putting some slices on peanut butter toast, or just enjoying it by itself as a snack for that extra energy boost!
Seafood, albeit most types being high in fat, is a great source of protein and high in healthy fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for heart health, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, and aids and promotes brain development in infants, children, and adults. Studies have shown that it can also help alleviate depression and therefore improve one’s mental health! When looking for seafood meal ideas, enjoy a piece of salmon with some rice and veggies on the side, or opt for a seafood curry instead of a chicken one.
3. Dark Leafy Greens
It has been said that the darker the color of the vegetable, the more nutritious it is. This is due to the fact that the dark pigment from the vegetable, which comes from the plant pigment chlorophyll, contains great dietary fiber, and is actually used as a health supplement by some people. Dark leafy greens also contain Carotenoids, another plant pigment, that has shown to act as antioxidants and fight off cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Examples of dark leafy greens include spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and rocket. Get in these dark leafy greens by making a green smoothie, or by just including some of these vegetables as a side for your roast lunches or dinners.
Avocado is a popular brunch ingredient, and is packed with loads of nutrients and vitamins. One avocado contains about 14 percent of the recommended daily intake of magnesium for an adult, a vitamin which helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, therefore also helping to fight type 2 diabetes. Avocado is a great source of fiber and healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, which studies have proven to be great for heart health. Include avocado in your diet by putting it on some toast for breakfast with eggs, and enjoy smashed avo toast with a crumbling of feta over top.
5. Garlic and Onion
Garlic and onion are vegetables that form part of the allium family and have been used for centuries as a healing medicine due to their health benefits. Not only are garlic and onion super tasty and great to cook with, but they are very powerful vegetables with high nutritional value. Garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is known to help boost the immune system. Studies have also shown that allium vegetables, including garlic, onion, chives, and leeks can help prevent cancer, and garlic can help improve diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Some even swear by crushing up garlic cloves and eating them as is to prevent colds and flu! It is quite simple, however, to include garlic and onion in your diet- just make sure that every time you cook you include them in the dish (and don’t skimp on the garlic)!
Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries are full of impressive nutritional value. Blueberries in particular are a nutritious fruit that are full of antioxidants due to their content of anthocyanin pigments that help fight free radicals in the body that can cause cell damage or cancer. Antioxidants can also help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even Altzheimer’s disease. Berries are also low-calorie and high in fiber. While blueberries are at the top of the superfood list, almost every berry is super nutritious and deserving of ‘superfood status’. Get those berries in by making a daily protein and berry smoothie, or by just enjoying a mix of berries with some plain yoghurt as a snack.
Mushrooms have been praised for centuries, and used in Ancient Chinese medicine for their medicinal properties and health benefits. Studies have shown that mushrooms have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and are also full of antioxidants. Mushrooms are used in mycotherapy (using mushrooms as medicine) and have even been used to treat breast cancer. Medicinal mushrooms are now available to buy as a supplement in health shops, and have been shown to have immune boosting properties. Add mushrooms into your diet by including them in your roast vegetable dishes, or enjoy a vegetarian shiitake mushroom burger every now and then!
8. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is considered a superfood, as the cacao in it is full of antioxidants. Therefore, the darker you go, the more antioxidants you get. Antioxidants are known to help with cancer prevention, heart disease, and even weight loss, and dark chocolate has actually been found to have more antioxidants than red wine and green tea! Studies have also shown that dark chocolate can be a mood booster, help prevent memory loss, and improve cognition. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can also reduce inflammation. Enjoy a few blocks of dark chocolate at night as an after dinner snack. The impressive health benefits of dark chocolate are a great excuse to indulge in some yumminess daily!
If you are looking to get the most out of your meals and up the nutritional value, these foods are your best bet! There are so many delicious ways to enjoy them, but most are absolutely sufficient eaten simply on their own. Take control of your health right now and don’t sleep on these superfoods!