What is a Superfood?
The term “superfood” has no definition that is agreed on by dieticians and nutrition experts. Someone who is in love with cheesecake could rightfully call that dessert a superfood. If you can’t drive past a Starbucks without ordering your favorite overpriced caffeine-based beverage, you may consider coffee as the number one superfood on the planet.
However, in most cases people agree that the word superfood generally points out some type of food item which delivers more health benefits than common foods.
Here are a few definitions from respected dictionaries that give you a better idea of exactly what superfoods are.
- Macmillan Dictionary – ” … superfood is a food that is considered to be very good for your health and that may even help some medical conditions.”
- Oxford Dictionary – “A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”
As you can see, most superfood definitions stress health benefits. What can you expect from super foods? Author and nutrition expert Elizabeth Somer was interviewed by health website WebMD on the subject. She was quoted as saying, “I’d say that 50 percent to 70 percent of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension can all be impacted.”
That is some pretty powerful motivation to add superfoods to your regular diet. One thing you’ll notice about the following list of 10 superfoods to include in a healthy diet is that many of them are extremely versatile in the kitchen. (Superfood Health Tip: When superfoods are changed as little as possible from their natural state, they deliver the most health benefits. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook the following superfoods; it just means when you eat them raw or minimally processed, your health benefits the most.)
Quinoa is often referred to as a grain. Many paleo diet practitioners do not eat quinoa, as grains are excluded. This wonderfully healthy superfood is actually a seed, related to beets and spinach, and not a grain. It does cook and prepare like grains, and has a grain-like appearance. This wheat and gluten-free superfood has been eaten as part of a versatile and healthy diet for more than 5,000 years. Quinoa is easy to prepare, can be sprinkled on salads, eaten as a separate side dish or added to soup.
Health Benefits of
This protein-rich food delivers roughly twice as much fiber per serving as common grains. It also delivers high levels of iron, magnesium, manganese and vitamin B2. Quinoa has excellent antioxidant benefits, is high in essential amino acids, can help lower your blood sugar and boost your metabolism.
This superfood is edible (and delicious) right off the vine. In North America blueberries have been a food source for more than 13,000 years. Native Americans harvested blueberries for a number of reasons. The juice can be used to make dyes and paints, and the leaves and roots deliver multiple medicinal uses. Blueberries are second only to strawberries in popularity in the US. Many nutrition experts refer to blueberries as the “perfect superfood”.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
This superberry delivers plenty of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber and potassium. Blueberries also contribute to healthy cholesterol regulation, and deliver heart healthy benefits, as well as improved brain function.
Most people understand that salmon is full of healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids. These EFAs cannot be manufactured by the human body. They must be delivered by an outside food source, and you would be hard pressed to find a healthier superfood as an omega-3 source. However, the amino acids and proteins found in salmon also deliver a lot of health benefits. (Make sure you opt for wild caught salmon, and steer clear of farm raised fish.)
Health Benefits of Salmon
The salmon superfood promotes heart health, joint and cartilage strength and resilience, insulin effectiveness and inflammation control. The omega-3s found in salmon also lower your risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.
4. Almonds and Walnuts
These nuts definitely qualify as superfoods. They are chock-full of healthy fats and deliver multiple health benefits. A handful of walnuts or almonds makes an extremely healthy snack, and these raw superfoods can be sprinkled into your cereals, salads, soups and desserts.
Health Benefits of Almonds and Walnuts
These versatile, easy to pack, filling super foods can actually help improve your memory. They also fight cancer and lower cholesterol. They promote heart health, protect against type II diabetes, contribute to weight loss, and are rich in vitamin C, potassium and serve as healthy energy boosters.
This delicious superfood is full of healthy monounsaturated fat. Healthy fats help your body properly absorb vitamins A, E, D and K. Just 1 cup of avocado delivers a full 10 g of fiber (25% to 45% of your daily recommended allowance). Avocados are extremely versatile, and can be used in salads, to prepare fresh guacamole, or eaten raw.
Health Benefits of Avocado
The high fiber content of avocados lead to heart health, proper digestion and control of your cholesterol level. Avocados are also rich in vitamin C. They additionally provide healthy antioxidants that prevent damage at a cellular level. Avocados help reduce your risk of contracting a long list of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.
6. Cayenne Pepper
The superfood Cayenne is rich in a chemical called capsaicin. This natural health booster works in a number of ways to deliver physical and mental benefits. Cayenne powder is a shelf-stored item which lasts indefinitely. Add to your salads, soups, sandwiches and meats for a spicy kick that is nutrient-dense and full of vitamins.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
A significant amount of iron and vitamins A, C and E are contained in a small dose of Cayenne. This pepper can be eaten raw, right off the plant, or made into a versatile powder. Cayenne is an anti-irritant, fights colds and flu, is an antifungal, anti-allergen and digestive aid. It also helps detox your body and supports weight loss while fighting cancer and relieving joint pain.
The leafy green kale delivers more antioxidants than almost every other fruit and vegetable per serving. It is also a truly fantastic source of several other health boosters. Kale can be eaten raw, baked into crunchy kale chips, added to salads, sandwiches and juices.
Health Benefits of Kale
The kale superfood is extremely high in healthy dietary fiber, iron and calcium. It can be boiled, enjoyed raw, steamed, stewed, roasted or juiced. Just 1 cup of kale delivers 0 g of fat and 20% of your daily dietary fiber. Kale helps regulate digestion, prevents constipation, keeps you from overeating and helps lower your blood sugar to a healthy level. Kale is also extremely high in healthy antioxidants and cancer fighters.
Eggs are tough to beat (pun intended) as a versatile superfood. They provide numerous benefits to the human body, are simple to prepare and eat, and comparatively inexpensive. Eggs can be boiled, fried, poached and used as the basis of a healthy homemade mayonnaise recipe. Opt for eggs from grass-fed chickens rather than those that are grain-fed.
Health Benefits of Eggs
A diet which regularly includes eggs has shown to lead to a lower risk of heart disease and mental problems. Brain development is actually boosted by this simple food, which is also extremely high in what dietitians and nutrition’s call a “perfect protein”. Egg yolks are one of the densest sources of the B complex vitamin choline. Choline helps improve neurological function and reduces inflammation. Eggs also pack omega-3 fatty acids.
9. Sweet Potatoes and Yams
The differences between white potatoes and sweet potatoes (yams) are where the health benefits are found. White potatoes are treated by your body as simple carbohydrates, and lead to fat and weight gain. Sweet potatoes and yams deliver a long list of vitamins and minerals which lead to mental and physical health properties. Sweet potatoes are also extremely versatile, and easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. (Yams and sweet potatoes are not technically the same thing, yet they are so similar as to be virtually identical.)
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes and Yams
One medium sized sweet potato delivers 200% of your recommended daily requirement of vitamin A. You also receive 50% of your daily vitamin C needs. When you eat the skin of a sweet potato, you enjoy more healthy dietary fiber per serving than oatmeal. Sweet potatoes are inexpensive and versatile, rich in vitamin B6, and a good source of iron, vitamin D, potassium and beta-carotene.
10. Green Tea
The superfood (beverage) green tea has been used for its health and medicinal properties for thousands of years in the Far East. Green tea is commonly referred to as one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Opt for organic green tea whenever you can, and check product labels to ensure as natural a product as possible. Just don’t add milk to your green tea, because this drastically lowers its health benefits.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
The secret health booster found in green tea is the beverage’s antioxidants. Green tea can actually slow down and repair dying cells, which makes it a great cancer fighter. The phytochemicals in green tea have also been found to reduce your risk of heart disease. This natural remedy promotes weight loss, healthy brain function and can lower the chances of contracting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.