An easy way to pack our diets with more nutritional punch is by eating super foods. Largely fruits and vegetables but including some fish and seeds, super foods have extra-high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health boosters like polyphenols. What makes them super is that they are more nutrient-dense than other foods. The good stuff found in super foods help us strengthen our bodies, support our immune systems, prevent disease and live longer, healthier lives. Another great thing about super foods is that for the most part, they can be found in your regular supermarket.
Here are some delicious super foods to add into your diet:
This creamy fruit is not only responsible for bringing us party-favorite guacamole, but also gives us a nutritional boost. Avocados have some of the highest levels of potassium, folate, magnesium and fiber of any food! Fiber aids digestion while Vitamin E, also found in high levels in avocados, supports bright skin, shiny hair and strong nails. One of biggest benefits of avocados is their dose of healthy monounsaturated fat, which helps decrease cholesterol levels. They’ve also been found to reduce inflammation in the digestive and circulatory systems. Avocados are a great substitute for unhealthy fats like mayonnaise, are filling and can be added to a variety of dishes, from salads to scrambled eggs.
Dark green leafy vegetables typically have more nutrients than their lighter counterparts, and kale is among the most beneficial of them. The veggie is a super food for its sky-high levels of Vitamin A, K and C. To prove the point, one cup of kale has 206 percent of your Recommended Daily Value of Vitamin A! It also contains other antioxidants like beta-carotene that help reduce damage from free radicals that contribute to the signs of aging. In addition, kale contains bile acid sequestrants that help decrease cholesterol in the body. Try replacing romaine lettuce with kale in a Caesar salad, tossing them in a smoothie, soup or sandwich, or eating them as a side with salmon or other healthy fish.
“Super foods prevent disease and help us live long, healthy lives.”
Sweet potatoes aren’t only for Thanksgiving or the decidedly un-super sweet potato casserole. The naturally sweet root vegetable contains extra high levels of Vitamin A, B6 and C, magnesium and fiber. It’s also rich in antioxidants that help prevent cancer and skin- and immune system-boosting beta-carotene. To get the most bang for your beta-carotene buck, top your sweet potato with a healthy fat like extra virgin olive oil, which helps your body absorb more of the antioxidant. Just swap your regular baked potato for a baked sweet potato, or make healthy fries with the orange veggie to benefit from this super food.
These tiny seeds may seem unassuming, but they are health food heavy hitters! They are fiber powerhouses, containing 11 grams of fiber per 1 ounce serving, which accounts for nearly all of the seeds’ carbohydrate content. This high amount of fiber enables chia seeds to absorb much more water after they are digested than most other foods are capable of, which means that they help you feel full for longer. Chia seeds also help support good bacteria in the intestines, which is vital to digestive and overall health. Add in omega-3 fatty acids and high protein levels, and you’ve got yourself a super food. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on top of just about everything, from salads to oatmeal, and are a great substitute for sugary cereals.
Scientists herald these juicy berries as a true super food. They are packed with a variety of beneficial phytonutrients such as anthocyanins and flavonoids that deter the aging effects of free radicals and support healthy cells. There’s evidence that blueberries help prevent cancer, heart conditions, cognitive decline, memory problems and nervous system stress. Blueberries truly benefit the entire body. Enjoy them on their own or add them to smoothies and cereals. Stick to eating them in their purest form, though, and not in your pie, since you get the greatest nutritional benefit from enjoying them raw. Chia seeds are a super food for their high levels of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Who would’ve thought that chocolate could be so good for us? Don’t reach for your favorite candy bar, though, but for cocoa powder. The super food has high levels of flavonoids – 43.6 milligrams of flavonoids per gram of powder, to be exact – that help improve blood flow, decrease blood pressure and lower the risk of blood clots. Its high levels of antioxidants help fight disease and reduce the signs of aging. It also contains a substance called phenethylamine, which acts as a mood booster, and also contains calcium and potassium. Opt for raw cocoa powder, since processing strips it of its major nutrients. Add cocoa powder to a smoothie or use it to make a mug of hot chocolate to reap its health benefits.
Even though these foods are super, adding them to your diet is simple! Incorporate them into your meals today to start boosting your body’s health.