Superfood Secrets for a Healthy Life from Superfood Secrets for a Healthy Life
Superfood Secrets for a Healthy Life
“Superfood” is not a scientific term. It is a clever marketing label used to describe produce and other items in grocery stores that are rich in nutrients that help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart problems, cancer and other diseases. If you need a nutritional punch but don’t have time to cook meals or plan your lunches a week in advance, superfoods are your best option for providing your body with all the minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants – which protect our body cells from damaging – it needs to fight and prevent illnesses.
Researchers have identified over 45 different flavonoids in kale, according to Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE registered dietitian and author of Naturally Nourished: Food-as-Medicine Solutions for Optimal Health Cookbook. Kaempferol and quercetin top the list. “These flavonoids combine both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits in a way that gives kale a leading dietary role as a superfood,” Miller says. “Kale can provide great benefit in combating chronic inflammation and oxidative stress while supporting reduced histamine expression during allergy season.”
“They are high in antioxidants and a cancer-fighting food,” Moore says. Blueberries neutralize free radical damage that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer, Miller adds. “The added bonus is that they are very low in calories while providing a flavor boost to naturally sweeten a salad, cup of yogurt, or your favorite smoothie.”
Raw non-processed chocolate in the form of cacao is rich in theobromine, an antioxidant that can improve blood pressure and vessel health while, providing a serotonin boost that can provide enhanced mood and libido, Miller says. “Cacao has a high antioxidant capacity exceeding many other exotic superfoods by weight.” Beyond its antioxidants, it is very high in copper, manganese, and magnesium, which can help to regulate cholesterol, relax muscles, and boost metabolism. “Use cacao powder in your smoothies, nut balls or nut bars, and indulgences, or add cacao nibs to trail mix,” she adds.
“Pumpkin is a storehouse of antioxidants and rich in beta carotene which converts to Vitamin A in the body and is beneficial for good vision, a healthy immune system and cell growth,” Heather Blanchette, registered and certified dietitian-nutritionist at IEM, says. In addition, pumpkin also contains: manganese, the trace mineral important for bone and skin formation; phosphorous, which is vital for carbohydrate metabolism; copper, which helps play a role in energy production and antioxidant protection; magnesium, a mineral that also helps play a role in energy production and bone formation; and zinc, a mineral used to help boost the immune system.
Turmeric is one of the most abundant spices in curry powder, and one of the active organic components of turmeric is curcumin. “Researchers have connected curcumin to a plethora of health related benefits including a reduction in inflammation and joint pain, cancer prevention, heart health benefits as well as prevention in the formation of plaque that free radicals deposit in the neural pathways of the brain and therefore reducing cognitive decline with Alzheimer’s disease,” Miller says. Add turmeric to stir fry, sauces, dips, smoothies, and try shaking it on top of fresh popped popcorn with truffle salt and coconut oil.
Broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are high in Vitamins A, C, E and K, folic acid, and fiber, as well as several carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, Blanchette says. These super-veggies have been linked to lower cancer risks, according to the American Institute for Cancer. Some have the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells. Cruciferous veggies also include arugula, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, mustard greens, and watercress.
“This summer super veggie is a fantastic source of monounsaturated fat that is burned by the body really easily for energy,” Angela Martindale, a celebrity nutritionist, fitness trainer, and Utah’s number one wellness coach, says. It offers almost 20 vital nutrients like potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folic acid. It also helps reduce cholesterol, and stave off inflammation, she adds.
Seaweed a.k.a sea veggies
“Sea vegetables have 10-20x the minerals as land vegetables due to the mineral deficiency in our soils,” Miller says. Rich in iodine, a trace mineral many are deficient in, sea vegetables aid in tonifying the thyroid gland which can aid in weight loss and optimizing metabolic function. “Sea vegetables have a unique fiber that provides a gel-like ability to detoxify, balance hormones, and protect the GI tract from food sensitivities,” she adds. Its ability to gel paired with chlorophyl and other pigment rich antioxidants can successfully reduce inflammation. Use nori as a sheet for hummus and veggie or turkey roll-ups beyond sushi and add rehydrated seaweed such as hijiki or dulse to salads.
Tomatoes are known for their antioxidant content and their rich concentration of lycopene. “Many studies suggest that eating lycopene rich foods may be linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and age –related eye disorders,” Blanchette says. Tomatoes are also full of Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
This superfood has long been a favorite in traditional Chinese medicine and was rumored to be the tonic of vitality for monks in the Himalayan Mountains some 2,000 years ago, Miller says. Goji berry, like all berries, is also rich in Vitamin C, but with its red pigment it is concentrated in beta-carotene vs. anthocyanin of blueberries. “Concentrated in antioxidants, this berry provides anti-aging benefits and supports healthy skin while defending against skin damage from the sun,” she adds. Goji berries provide a boost of energy and fiber which help regulate blood sugar levels and digestive health.
You’ve probably heard of the many benefits of drinking lemon water? Lemons are real superstars when it comes to vitamin C sources. Just one serving provides more than 180 percent of the daily value. They also provide, iron, potassium, fiber, and magnesium. The nutrients in lemons help prevent kidney stones, soothe a sore throat, aid with weight loss by improving digestion, and balance pH levels.
If you like onions, you’ll love scallions, nicknamed “spring onions.” They are the just a fresher version of them. Scallions are high in antioxidants and help lower blood pressure. The spring onions are also rich in vitamins K and C. Just 100 grams of scallion contain essential minerals like copper, iron, manganese, and calcium.
Carrots are famous for being very beneficial for eyes – they protect and improve your vision. The Department of Agriculture recommends adults eat at least four servings of the vegetable every day because it has a lot of other benefits. They clean your teeth and gums, have lots of vitamin A which protects your skin, and contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer. Carrots are also a great source of potassium.
Spinach is one of the best superfoods you can find. It’s high in antioxidants and Vitamin C, iron for healthy cells and energy, and Vitamin K for heart, because it helps blood clot, and bone health, because it helps build them strong. Just half a cup provides more than five times your daily dose of this needed nutrient.
"Chia seeds are one of the top superfoods on my list because they are easy to throw into a smoothie or yogurt last minute, and they are packed with great nutritional value," Millie Wilson, Registered Dietitian for My Fit Foods, says. "These tiny seeds were a staple in the Aztec diet and have just started to become a staple again. They provide heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, a significant amount of fiber (10 grams in two tablespoons), and even some protein to keep you fuller for longer," she adds.