What is a superfood? The term was originally thought up as marketing technique to help sell certain food products. But in all honesty, there is no such thing as a complete “superfood.” This is because there is no single food that contains all of the necessary nutrients that you need nor a single food that can single-handedly cure diseases or cause unprecedented weight-loss.
Being healthy nutritionally requires that you eat a wide variety of foods from various food groups.
However, there are a variety of foods that are nutritionally healthier than other options and they may be called superfoods in that sense. Although there are many healthy foods available, only a few can be singled out as a superfood because they typically have a very high amount of important nutrients.
List of Superfoods
There are many different foods that may be considered superfoods because of their nutritional content. Here are just a few of the most popular superfoods you should consider adding to your diet:
Loaded with fiber, berries are naturally sweet fruits that are also packed with antioxidants, which may help to prevent the onset of certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Berries have also been found to help in treating various immune-related and digestive disorders as well.
A few of the most common berries include:
A few easy ways to incorporate berries into your diet includes adding them to smoothies, topping your breakfast cereal or oatmeal with them, or even enjoying them as a dessert with a dollop of whipped cream.
Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, especially varieties that are dark in color, are a fantastic source of nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, fiber and more! Dark leafy greens are linked with the reduction of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, plus they contain high levels of carotenoids (anti-inflammatory compounds) that may protect you against developing certain types of cancer.
A few of the most common leafy green vegetables include:
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
You can incorporate dark leafy green vegetables in salads, stir-fries, soups and even smoothies. A few of the varieties are a bit bitter, so it is important to get creative with how you choose to eat them so that you hardly even know they are there.
The legumes category includes a lot of different foods, including beans, soybeans, lentils, peanuts and peas. They are considered superfoods because they contain a rich source of B vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Eating beans and legumes regularly may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and can also promote healthy weight maintenance as well.
A few of the most common legumes include:
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Incorporating legumes into your diet can be very simple. Add a handful of beans to your salad, make a bean-based soup, or add a side of peas to your next dinner entrée.
A healthy amount of olive oil can be a great addition to your diet. Olive oil is a great source of antioxidants vitamin E and vitamin K, and because it contains monounsaturated fatty acids (also referred to as healthy fats), it can help reduce your risk of heart disease and help maintain stable blood sugar levels.
A great way to incorporate olive oil into your diet is by using it instead of using other less healthy fats such as butter or margarine. Sauté your vegetables in olive oil, use it as a salad dressing or use it instead of butter in rice and pasta dishes.
Multiple types of fish have been shown to contain very high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are responsible for keeping your heart healthy. However, salmon is regarded as one of the healthiest types of fish that you can eat. Salmon is a great source of protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, potassium and selenium as well.
If you want to eat more salmon, choose to grill up a salmon burger instead of a beef burger, add some of the fish to a salad, or choose it as an entrée next time you go out to eat at a restaurant. Just keep in mind that certain types of fish may be contaminated with metals and other pollutants, so limit your fish intake to around two or three servings per week.
There are lots of different foods that are currently considered superfoods, which means that there are many more than those listed above. To quickly list some of those, a few more superfoods include:
- Green tea
- Whole grains
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and more)
These foods are all nutritionally-dense and contain high levels of important nutrients. Find ways to incorporate those foods into your daily diet and you will likely reap the rewards of having a healthier body and mind.
Eating a Balanced Diet Including Superfoods
These foods all vary in the exact nutrients they provide, which means that it is best to eat a wide variety of them for the most benefits. The best way to achieve your best health is by focusing on nutrition as a broader subject and understanding that in order to become healthier, you need to intake a lot of different vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
If you simply eat only a handful of different foods, even if they are considered healthy foods, you will not achieve optimal health. Eating just broccoli and berries will not provide you with the balanced diet that you need in order to grow and age gracefully while also providing your body with the nutrients it needs to fight diseases and stay healthy. Only when you eat a variety of the superfoods listed above along with other healthy food options will you find that you can maintain a healthy weight and feel better physically and mentally.
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