There is no approved definition for what qualifies as a superfood, but health professionals agree that these foods provide a high level of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (natural, disease-fighting chemicals). Here are a few delicious superfoods to start eating now!
Apples: Apples contain soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol levels, and insoluble fiber for a healthy digestive system. This fruit is also a source of the antioxidant quercetin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Almonds: These nuts are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They are also a source for the trace minerals manganese and copper, which are essential for energy production.
Avocados: Avocados contain 5 different types of anti-inflammatory nutrients. They are also rich in the carotenoids that we often only associate with orange vegetables.
Barley: The dietary fiber in hulled barley supports healthy bacteria in the intestine. It also contains selenium, a powerful antioxidant for the prevention of cancer and heart disease.
Beets: The betalins in beets are phytonutrients known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties.
Black Beans: Three different antioxidants, called anthocyanins, give black beans their dark color. These beans also contain kaempferol, another antioxidant that reduces the risk for heart disease and cancer.
Blueberries: Ranked as one of the top food sources for antioxidants. Research shows blueberries contain at least 15 beneficial phytonutrients.
Cinnamon: The essential oils in cinnamon bark have been found to reduce inflammation and help with controlling blood sugar. These oils are also anti-microbial, preventing the growth of unhealthy bacteria.
Garlic: Sulfur compounds in garlic can reduce the oxidative stress that leads to blood vessel damage. These compounds have also been found to reduce triglycerides, total cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
Kale: Researchers have identified over 45 flavonoids (a type of phytonutrient) in kale. As a result, kale has been found to reduce the risk of over 5 types of cancer, and it supports the body’s natural detox system.
Lentils: Lentils are a good source of folate and magnesium, which help to promote heart health. They are also loaded with fiber.
Oranges: Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, but oranges also contain the phytonutrient herperidin that may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, oranges contain limonoids, which have been shown to protect against 6 types of cancer.
Red Cabbage: Cabbage contains a compound called sinigrin that has been linked to the prevention of bladder, colon, and prostate cancers. Red cabbage has added benefit due to the presence of anthocyanins, which act as antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer.
Sauerkraut: Fermented foods such as sauerkraut contain probiotics (live organisms in food and supplements that benefit health). Probiotics are associated with improved digestion and intestinal health. Sauerkraut is also full of vitamins that may help prevent infection.
Spinach: Researchers have identified over 12 flavonoids in spinach that are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. This leafy green is also packed with the antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and manganese.
Sweet Potatoes: Orange-flesh sweet potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and purple-flesh sweet potatoes contain the antioxidant anthocyanin. Research shows that sweet potatoes help with blood sugar regulation.
Tomatoes: The numerous phytonutrients in tomatoes are associated with decreased total cholesterol, decreased LDL-cholesterol, decreased triglycerides, and a reduced risk of cancer. More recently, the antioxidant, lycopene, has been linked to improved bone health.
Turmeric: Found in curry powders and yellow mustard, turmeric contains curcumin, which has been found to be as effective for reducing inflammation as some over-the-counter medications.
Walnuts: They are well-known as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but walnuts also contain phytonutrients that are rarely found in other foods. Walnuts have been found to protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Yogurt: Like sauerkraut, yogurt is a fermented food. Yogurts that contain live and active cultures act as probiotics, which may improve intestinal problems such as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.