Eating foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are crucial to living a healthy, disease-free life. Packaged foods that are heavily processed would only wreak havoc on the body in the long run. The term Superfood refers to food that is densely packed with an enormous amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There are certain foods that are touted to be superfoods because they are not only nutrient-rich, but they also have amazing health benefits; some are even as great as healing chronic ailments. Some may call this a marketing gimmick by the food industry to sell certain foods with a hefty price tag, while others swear by it, and there is this huge misconception that only plant-based foods could be labeled superfoods, but that is far from the truth.
I try to stay neutral around this topic but honestly speaking; I do love eating some of these alleged superfoods even if they were not called one. I am sure you will find some of your favorites in this article too. Let’s be real, though eating only superfoods is impossible, you would also lose out on a lot of other essential nutrients that you would be getting from regular foods, so eating them in combination is the best way to reap all the benefits from these nature’s gifts. Let’s get into some of these superfoods and find out why they are worthy of this title, shall we?
What Are Superfoods? [And Health Benefits!]
Berries: Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. The antioxidants in these berries help fight and even reverse free radical damage in the body like cancer, stroke, and arthritis and help fortify immune, respiratory, and heart health. So add berries to your smoothies, porridge, fruit bowls, salads, and baked goods.
Nuts & Seeds: Nuts and seeds are often considered fattening because of their high-fat content. When consumed in moderation, their richness in healthy fats, fiber, and protein make them an excellent source of protection against inflammation, heart diseases, and their antioxidant properties help against oxidative stress. Some of the nuts and seeds to include are cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia, and flax seeds. Add them in your smoothie, chia pudding, oatmeals, salads, or even make your own trail mix at home by taking different types of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that way; they have no added sugar or salt.
Salmon: I am not usually a huge fan of seafood because of the smell, but salmon is one fish I very much enjoy eating. Maybe it is the melt-in-mouth texture with little to no stench. Salmon is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which lowers the risk of stroke, heart disease while reducing cholesterol. I love pan searing or baking my salmon filets with olive oil and lots of fresh lemon slices.
Kale: We have all seen Popeye The Sailorman directly chugging spinach from tin cans, but there’s a much healthier dark leafy green, which is Kale. It is not only anti-inflammatory because of its richness in carotenoids. Kale is also an exceptional source of nutrients like iron, zinc, folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and fiber. Consuming this regularly has the potential to lower your risk of heart disease, constipation, and various types of cancer. Due to its low caloric level, it is diabetes-friendly. Add Kale to your salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches, stews, and stir-fries. Personally, I love even just munching on kale chips.
Cacao Nibs: Cacao Nibs is something I truly enjoy every now and then. Cacao, a compound present in cacao beans, is high in flavonoids, which boosts the immune system while preventing coronary heart disease and various types of cancer. Make sure the cacao nibs have zero added sugar to reap all of its benefits. I love topping my smoothie bowls and oatmeals with some cacao nibs and fresh berries.
Green Tea: There will always be folks in every group that drinks green tea and swear about its ability to aid with their weight loss. There are various green teas that range from low to high caffeine content, and it is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols that have immense anti-inflammatory capabilities. It also has the ability to protect against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Red Wine: I am glad to have made the switch from hard liquors to red wine because of its several health benefits. Red wine contains several potent antioxidants like resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins that help prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Drink a glass of red wine a day or add it to your dishes like making pasta or coq au vin.
Olive Oil: The fats in olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), is one of the most healthy fats you could ever eat. It is abundant in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which have powerful health benefits such as reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. It also has anti-inflammatory and cancer reducing substances.
Kefir: Kefir is a fermented beverage made from cow or goat’s milk. It is a much potent probiotic than yogurt; it is also loaded with protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. It has a thinner consistency than typical yogurt and has more probiotic strains. It is known to reduce cholesterol, asthma, allergy, lowers blood pressure, improves bone health and digestion. Kefir can be consumed even by lactose-intolerant folks due to its fermentation process. If you’re vegan, you could replace cow’s milk with either coconut milk or rice milk. You could add kefir to your fruit parfait, smoothies, or even in curries in replacement to yogurt.
Seaweed: Seaweed has been part of several Asian cuisines like the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans for thousands of years. Seaweed is known as sea vegetables, which is a form of algae. The most popular kind is the nori sheet used to make sushi, and it contains iodine and tyrosine, which helps with thyroid function, improves heart, gut health, reduces cancer risk, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Usually, people snack on dried nori sheets. You could try adding it to your soups, stews, wraps.
The Bottom Line – Regardless of these labels, eating a balanced diet by incorporating various foods, including these superfoods, is an amazing way to lower the risk of so many chronic illnesses. Variety is the spice of life, isn’t it? I love trying out new foods, and it is the best way to learn about a lot of people and their cultures. Make sure you eat all of these in moderation and not go overboard with it. Is there any other superfood you like that I missed to include it in here? Please let me know in the comments; I would love to read about it. I hope you enjoyed reading the post. Until next time, stay healthy!