Imagine being able to eat something everyday that will lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and fight off those cancer causing cells. And the only side effect is that you’ll feel better than you ever have before.
No, I’m not talking about the latest prescription drug. I’m talking about food…Super Foods to be exact.
Super foods are foods that pack a huge nutritional punch, but have few calories and often little or no fat. These foods help fight diseases and keep your energy up and weight loss down.
So, what are some of these super foods and how can you add them to your diet?
Blueberries may be sweet, succulent and juicy but did you know that they’re also high in fiber and antioxidants? As a matter of fact there are many nutritional studies that have proven blueberries to exert a powerful cardio-protective effect due to the high concentration of polyphenols found in the berry. Polyphenols are antioxidants from plant foods that work in our bodies to enhance our health.
In layman’s terms, that means that blueberries provide protection against a number of ailments…and that’s a good thing. Plus, recent research also confirmed that blueberry polyphenols actually inhibit fat cell formation and increase lipolysis (the breakdown of fats). In layman’s terms, that means that blueberries can have a positive effect on weight loss…and that’s another good thing. The moral of the story: eat blueberries!
Nuts in general are super good for you, but walnuts are high in cholesterol-lowering plant serums and Omega 3 fatty acids. They’re a great crunchy snack that will make you full until mealtime, but they also make great breading for meats and veggies and are great added to salads for more flavor and crunch.
Walnuts have the highest antioxidant activity of all nuts. This means they provide good protection against cancer. Plus they are high in vitamin E, which aids heart health. Studies have shown that eating them can reduce the risk of a heart attack by up to 51 per cent if you eat a handful of nuts 5 times per week. They’re also a good source of protein and dietary fiber. But beware; a handful of walnuts pack quite a caloric punch at about 150 calories.
While you don’t want to eat it everyday, salmon does have huge health benefits. Salmon is a true super food. It contains vitamins A, B and D and is high in protein and low in fat and calories compared to meat. One of the biggest benefits of salmon is that it’s a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that are only found in food. Along with the heart-healthy benefits, the omega-3 fats in salmon support joint health, contribute to the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system and have been shown to help prevent certain types of cancer.
Bake or broil it and serve it with some brown rice and a green vegetable for a meal that can’t be beat as far as nutritional content.
Once thought to be unhealthy, eggs have certainly made a turnaround as far as health foods go. Nutrition scientists have discovered that eggs are one of the most nutrient-rich foods available and are now suggesting that we eat at least one egg a day to reap the most benefits from this super food.
The fact is eggs are low in calories, a rich source of protein and have many nutrients considered vital to good health including vitamin D, vitamin B12, choline, which helps the brain function properly and selenium. Plus they contain a good mix of essential amino acids, which aid in proper growth and repair in children and adults. And eggs are also rich in essential minerals including iodine, which is essential for healthy teeth and bones. You’ll also find trace elements of iron to help with red blood cell formation and zinc for improved immunity.
As far as calorie to nutrient ratio, you aren’t going to find anything better than kale and other dark leafy greens. High in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals, these are simply some of the best foods on the planet. It doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty inexpensive too. Cook them, eat them raw in salads, or even add them to fruit smoothies (other than the color, you won’t know they’re there, I promise!) Whatever you do, eat lots of them for maximum health benefits.
Kale belongs to the same plant family as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and collard greens. The organosulphur compounds found in kale has been proven to be extremely effective against stomach cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Loaded with carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, kale also protects the eyes against damage from the sun and ultraviolet light and prevent cataracts. A recent study showed that people who had a carotenoids rich diet had up to a 50% less risk of getting cataracts. Kale has also has large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, B6, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium!
Sweet potatoes have a reputation for being overly sweet thanks in part to preparing them with maple syrup and marshmallows, but when prepared alone, they’re not that sweet at all. They are high in Vitamin A, fiber and other minerals, and can be eaten in a variety of ways from baked and mashed, to soups and stews. Anywhere you use regular potatoes, you can use sweet potatoes and due to the high nutritional value, you should. Because sweet potatoes are high in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium and manganese and are one of the few low fat, low caloric food sources out there. They can also help stabilize your blood sugar levels, which means they’re a good choice for diabetics.
This super grain is one of the best whole grains you can eat. It’s high in protein, fiber and a naturally good source of iron. Plus it has plenty of zinc, vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Quinoa is as easy to prepare as rice and can be eaten alone or mixed with vegetables, nuts, or lean protein.
Quinoa contains more protein than many cereal grains and is thought to be a complete protein because it contains all eight of the essential amino acids that we need for tissue development. It’s a naturally gluten-free grain and is extremely low in saturated fat.
Quinoa can be substituted for most hot cereals and is a good replacement for rice or couscous. You can cook it like porridge, include it in casseroles or stews, or add it to soups, salads or desserts. And if you’re really daring, you can also use ground quinoa in breads, cookies, puddings, muffins and pasta.
And a Few More…
These are only some of the “super foods” you should include in your diet on a regular basis. Not only will you look better, but the added energy you get from these foods will make you feel better and will contribute to a longer, healthier life.
Have I missed any that you think should be included? Let me know in the comments below.