What is a Superfood? Is it like a Super Hero? Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Well not quite …… and there is no legal or medical definition for what makes a food super. They are however, nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, and prolong life, and people who eat more of them are healthier and thinner than those who don’t. That sounds pretty super to me. Here are a few that you might want to fit into your diet when you are thinking about putting good things in.
Why they’re super: These berries are full of phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals (agents that cause aging and cell damage). The antioxidants in these berries may also protect against cancer and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Why it’s super: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain phytonutrients that may suppress the growth of tumors and reduce cancer risk. One cup of this veggie powerhouse will supply you with your daily dose of immunity-boosting vitamin C and a large percentage of folic acid.
Why they’re super: Full of fiber, oats are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. They contain a special type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Magnesium works to regulate blood-sugar levels, and research suggests that eating whole-grain oats may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Why it’s super: Move over spinach, you’ve got some fierce competition. Kale contains a type of phytonutrient that appears to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian. Though scientists are still studying why this happens, they believe the phytonutrients in kale trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances.
Why they are super: The blue-red colors found in goji berries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and cherries are natural anti-oxidants which may help protect the body against oxidative damage. In addition Goji berries contain complex starches called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides which may benefit the immune function, and may reduce fatigue. Goji berries also have compounds rich in vitamin A that may also confer health benefits. Vitamin A and its derivatives may protect against skin damage, help maintain night-vision, and benefit the immune system.
Why they’re super: A cup of black beans packs 15 grams of protein, with none of the artery-clogging saturated fat found in meat. Plus, they’re full of heart-healthy fiber, antioxidants, and energy-boosting iron.
Why they’re super: They contain lycopene, an antioxidant rarely found in other foods. Studies suggest that it could protect the skin against harmful UV rays, prevent certain cancers, and lower cholesterol. Plus, tomatoes contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C.
Why it is super: This antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory spice gives curry its distinctive taste. It’s a prominent medicinal tool in ayurveda, the ancient medical tradition that began in India, where turmeric is widely used and the prevalence of the four most-common US cancers is 10 times lower. Researchers attribute part of this to curcumin, a compound gives turmeric its deep golden color, and studies suggest curcumin may protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s and also improve circulation, prevent blood clotting and tame a variety of pains.
Cocoa or Cacao
Why it is super: Well first – it’s chocolate! Don’t say “no” to chocolate! Cocoa can help put a smile on your face, containing hundreds of compounds that boost endorphins and serotonin, two of the best-known chemicals responsible for making us happy. It’s also loaded with flavonoids, chemicals found naturally in plants that may help fight a wide array of conditions – including diabetes, strokes and heart disease – and flavonols, which can relax your blood vessels and thin your blood, lowering your blood-pressure numbers naturally.
There are other foods which can be considered super – but start adding (or continue to add) these food to your body and know that you are doing your body good! Put good things in and ENJOY!