10 of our Top 25 Super Foods!
We love super foods! Super foods are far more than just vitamin and mineral supplements–their whole is much greater than the sum of their parts. They are foods that provide health benefits far beyond their recognized nutritional value. Super foods are foods with high concentrations of phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Since super foods are nutritious whole foods, they help us to embrace our health, instead of thinking along the lines of nutrient splitting, or fighting disease. Implementing these super foods into your diet will allow you to reap all of the benefits these yummy foods and herbs have to offer.
In this list we talk about 10 of our 25 super foods. Since the list is so comprehensive with valuable information, we decided to create 2 blogs to showcase the best foods we have discovered on our journey towards healthy eating and living!!! We will post the other 15 next week.
Top 10 of our 25 Super Foods
A cruciferous veggie, broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods known, and at a very low caloric cost. Not only is broccoli an amazing cancer-fighter, it also boosts the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones and fights birth defects. It’s high in polyphenols, which have antioxidant characteristics, and is in the top ten most commonly eaten veggies in the U.S.
Common Question: What’s that horrible smell that is sometimes there when opening packaged broccoli, or cooking it? The not-so-appealing smell is from sulfur compounds being released from the broccoli. These sulfur compounds are protective to the plant and to us as consumers, and are a big reason that broccoli has such cancer-fighting and preventing properties. The smell becomes stronger when broccoli is packaged/contained for more than a couple days. The best way to minimize the smell is to purchase super fresh broccoli, perhaps from a farmer’s market instead of the grocery store, and to consume it sooner than later.
Other cruciferous veggies: kale, cabbage, Chinese broccoli, Brussels sprout, cauliflower, bok choy, turnip root and greens, mustard seeds and greens, radish, horseradish, watercress.
Spinach is a mild-tasting green that boasts amazing nutritional content. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. It’s especially famous for its iron and calcium, although there’s controversy as to how well these valuable nutrients are absorbed by the body. The iron found in spinach can be more easily absorbed by the body when eaten with vitamin C and calcium. And while spinach is also a good source of calcium, the body also needs vitamin D and magnesium to properly absorb the calcium. But don’t get overwhelmed or confused trying to figure out which nutrients need the help of which other nutrients! Instead remember that the properties of these foods all work together, and shouldn’t be isolated in one form or another. Remember the big picture of eating a variety of whole foods, and you will easily consume all the necessary nutrients to make all the others workable and absorbable.
3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great example of a sweet health food that is low in sodium and high in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, A, C, potassium and manganese. Some varieties look, cook and taste like white potatoes, while others are more orange in color, and their flesh is moister and sweeter than white potatoes. All varieties of sweet potatoes have significantly more nutritional value than white potatoes. The more orange the flesh of the sweet potato, the higher the content of beta-carotene, termed a provitamin because it can be converted to active vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in several biological functions, and deficiency of it can lead to abnormal bone development and disorders of the reproductive system and of the eyes.
Common Question: What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? While the names are often used interchangeably, sweet potatoes and yams are very different vegetables. Sweet potatoes are more common in the U.S. than yams, and the sweeter, orange-flesh varieties are what often get mistaken for yams. Generally U.S. sweet potatoes are moist and sweet. Yams, on the other hand, are popular in Latin America and Caribbean, and are more dry and starchy than sweet potatoes.
These heart-healthy nuts are great sources of copper and manganese, and most importantly, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an Omega-3 fatty acid. A handful of these tasty nuts can provide 2.5 grams of ALA, which has been shown to provide many health benefits, including but not limited to cardiovascular protection, improved cognitive function, and anti-inflammatory properties. Every vegetarian should integrate walnuts into their daily food routines, as they are an amazing plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids. (Many other sources of Omega-3’s are not vegetarian.)
Delicious and nutritious, oranges are a good source of thiamin, folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C. The vitamin C helps with maintenance and protection of healthy bones. Their beta-carotene protects cells from damage, their magnesium helps keeps blood pressure in check, their folic acid helps with proper brain development, their potassium helps maintain electrolyte balance, as well as a healthy cardiovascular system. Eating oranges has been shown to help reduce mucus, maintain dental health and balance LDL-HDL ratios.
In general, berries are potent antioxidants and are especially protective against esophageal and colon cancers. They tend to be high in vitamin C, and can also contribute calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium. Not only do they taste great, but the pretty colors of berries also contribute to their Super Food status. Berries contain phytochemicals and flavonoids that have been shown to be protective against some forms of cancer. Cranberries and blueberries in particular are helpful in preventing bladder infections. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein, which is important for healthy vision.
Common varieties: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and red and purple grapes.
Oatmeal and oat bran are chock full of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, and provide countless health benefits. Oats have a positive impact on lowering bad cholesterol, balancing blood sugar by avoiding glucose spikes, reducing risk of breast cancer, lowering blood pressure, regulating bowel function, and improving athletic performance and overall health and longevity. It is the unique balance of soluble and insoluble fiber found in oats, along with a balance of carbohydrates and proteins, vitamins and minerals, that make oats a near-perfect food.
Healthful Hint: Combine your super foods! A hearty breakfast of oatmeal topped with cinnamon, walnuts and berries is a sure fire way to boost your antioxidants and start your day with amazing energy and nutritional support.
Tomatoes are an amazing source of antioxidants, and boast a vital cancer-fighting phytonutrient called lycopene. It’s lycopene that gives tomatoes their red color, and it is this phytonutrient that has contributed to tomatoes’ amazing anti-carcinogen properties. Research indicates that the evidence for benefit is strongest for prostate, lung and stomach cancers. Cooking tomatoes breaks down cell walls, releasing and concentrating the lycopene. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins E and B6, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, K, potassium and manganese.
Healthful Hint: Eating tomatoes with a small amount of fat enables lycopene to be better absorbed by the body. Try pairing tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese and drizzling with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper and sea salt. Delicious and nutritious!
9. Green Tea
While not technically a food, green tea still makes the Top 25 because of its amazing antioxidant and overall health-promoting capacity! The properties within green tea stop cancerous cells in every stage of development, and protect DNA by speeding carcinogen removing, making it a brutal cancer-fighter. It also promotes proper liver function and detoxification, lowers cholesterol, burns fat, prevents diabetes and stroke, and staves off dementia. The unique antioxidants in green tea, called catechins, are so concentrated because of green tea’s minimal processing, and attack dreaded free radicals.
Healthful Hint: Avoid drinking decaf green tea or adding milk to it—it’s best and most effective in its original form!
Fun Fact: The Japanese culture consumes a ton of green tea—10 cups a day, on average!
This amazing Indian spice’s original use as a dye got trumped when people realized what healing capacities it held. It has been documented as preventing and/or stopping the growth or spread of many different types of cancer, including prostate cancer, metastatic carcinoma, melanoma, leukemia, pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma. It is a natural anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, liver detoxifier and painkiller. It may decrease the progression of Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis, may aid in fat metabolism and weigh management, and is used in Chinese medicine to help with depression. It’s a wonder spice!
Healthful Hint: Not sure how to use turmeric in cooking? Aside from being a key component in Indian dishes, you can easily spice up your egg salad or steamed cauliflower with turmeric. See our recipe guide for more ideas!
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