Superfoods can supercharge your life. They can improve your energy levels, boost your immune system, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and even help you lose weight.
But what are they? And how do they work? Read on to learn more about the top 10 superfoods that will make a difference in your health and well-being.
Gojis have been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy by Chinese people. The berries contain high amounts of antioxidants called polyphenols which protect against free radicals. Free radicals damage cells within our body, causing them to age prematurely.
Antioxidants also prevent cell mutations from occurring, so we don’t get diseases like cancer or diabetes. Studies show that goji berry extract has anti-cancer properties and may be able to slow down tumor growth. This effect could be due to its ability to block certain enzymes involved in DNA synthesis. This means it stops new cells from being created and therefore slows down how cancers grow.
In addition, studies suggest that goji berries may increase insulin sensitivity meaning blood sugar levels stay normal. Insulin resistance occurs when there isn’t enough insulin available to transport glucose into muscle tissue where it’s needed. As a result, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream leading to type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that consuming goji berries regularly might help lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Acai berries come from acacias trees native to Brazil. These small red fruits are full of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, B6, folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and fiber.
They’re particularly rich in anthocyanins – powerful antioxidant compounds found naturally in blueberries, blackcurrants, and raspberries. Anthocyanin extracts have shown promise in helping fight inflammation linked to conditions such as arthritis and asthma.
One study showed that taking 500mg per day reduced joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. Another trial suggested that eating 100g of acai berries daily lowered cholesterol levels by 5%. Other research shows that regular consumption of acai berries helps maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Almonds are one of nature’s most nutritious foods. Rich in protein, vitamin D, folate, monounsaturated fats, and minerals like selenium, almonds provide essential building blocks for strong bones and teeth. Eating just two handfuls of raw unsalted almonds each week provides all the recommended dietary allowance for adults.
According to experts, almond oil contains some of the highest omega 3 fatty acids concentrations compared to any other food source. Omega 3 oils are vital because they play a key role in maintaining good cardiovascular function, boosting brain power, and protecting eyesight. Raw almonds are also great sources of fiber, making them beneficial for digestive health.
Avocados are delicious tropical fruit grown mainly in Mexico, Central America, and South Africa. High in fat but low in calories, avocados contain many heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, plus vitamins K & C, folate, biotin, and plenty of fiber.
Add avocado slices to your salads for added creaminess; mash them on sandwiches instead of bread for extra crunch; use them in guacamole recipes, or enjoy them sliced over fish dishes. If you can find ripe ones, try adding diced avocado to soups and stews for more flavor.
Beans are full of plant-based proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Packed with soluble and insoluble fibers, beans keep your digestion moving smoothly while filling you up without weighing you down.
Fiber keeps your gut bacteria happy, too, promoting intestinal wellness and keeping bloating away. Try different beans: adzuki, cannellini, chickpeas, lentils, navy, pinto, soybeans, white kidney, and yellow split peas. And remember to soak dried beans before cooking them to make sure they cook evenly.
Blueberries are bursting with disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are chemical substances produced by plants that act as natural pesticides, deterring insects from feeding on their leaves. When eaten, these chemicals enter the human system through the stomach walls and then travel throughout the body via the lymphatic system.
This means that consuming large amounts of fresh blueberries is an easy way to get high doses of anti-oxidants into our bodies. Antioxidant intake is effective at reducing risk factors for many diseases, especially cancer. In fact, according to researchers, “blueberries may be able to prevent certain types of cancers due to their ability to block tumor growth.” The USDA recommends men eat about 2 cups of fresh blueberries every week. Women should aim for 1 cup.
Broccoli is not only tasty, but it’s also extremely versatile! It works well sautéed, steamed, stir-fried, roasted, broiled, grilled, baked…the list goes on. Broccoli is chockfull of Vitamin C, which boosts immunity and protects against infections. It also contains sulforaphane, a compound that gives broccoli its cancer-fighting properties.
Sulforaphane activates detoxifying enzymes called glutathione S transferases, which help neutralize carcinogens within cells. Studies show that people who regularly consume cruciferous vegetables – those containing sulforaphane – tend to develop fewer tumors than others. Researchers believe this is why Asians typically live longer than Americans despite having diets higher in meat and saturated fat.
Eaten raw, broccoli is even better for you since it retains more of its anti-cancer benefits. A recent study found that eating just one serving of cooked broccoli daily reduces breast cancer risk by 30 percent. That’s enough reason to add some broccoli to your diet today.
Brown rice is packed with magnesium, manganese, vitamin B1, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. These minerals play important roles in maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and blood vessels. They’re essential for energy production and metabolism, helping us absorb calcium and other vital nutrients.
Brown rice is a whole grain because it still maintains most of its bran layer after processing. Whole grains have all three parts of the wheat kernel intact, including the germ, endosperm, and bran layers. Eating brown rice helps lower cholesterol levels and reduce risks of diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and stroke.
One medium-sized bowl of uncooked brown rice provides approximately 50% of the recommended daily allowance of potassium, 20% of protein, 15% of dietary fiber, 10% of niacin, 8% of thiamine, 7% of riboflavin, 6% of pantothenic acid, 5% of copper, 4% of selenium, 3% of phosphorous, 2% of iodine, 2% of zinc, 2% of magnesium, and 0.3% of sodium.
Chia seeds are tiny blackish-brown seeds that grow inside cactus flowers. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, proteins, carbohydrates, chlorophyll, tannins, saponins, flavonoids, glycosides, mucilage, polysaccharide, sterols, alkaloids, carotenes, coumarins, phenolic compounds, triterpenes, lignans, terpene alcohols, volatile oils, and fats.
Chia seeds can easily replace eggs or flaxseed meals in baking recipes. They make great additions to smoothies, salads, soups, oatmeal, yogurt, dips, granola bars, muffins, pancakes, waffles, bread, cookies, cakes, pies, pasta dishes, sauces, dressings, and much more. You’ll find them sold ground, cracked, whole, sprouted, frozen, dried, canned, and bottled. Look for organic varieties if possible.
Flaxseeds are rich sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health, brain function, skin care, joint support, and immune function. Fiber keeps you full between meals, so you don’t overeat.
Flaxseeds provide 11 grams per tablespoon. You can use the oil from flaxseeds as an additive in food products such as salad dressing, mayonnaise, margarine, and ice cream. Flaxseeds are often added to cereals, crackers, bread, pasta, snacks, beverages, desserts, spreads, condiments, toppings, nut butter, yogurts, cheeses, meats, fish, poultry, veggie burgers, pizza crusts, etc.
Hemp seeds are high in protein, complete protein, a good source of unsaturated fats, low in calories, and very nutritious. They are loaded with many valuable phytochemicals, especially gamma-linolenic acid. GLA is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that reduces inflammation, promotes cell growth, and protects the body’s tissues.
In addition to being anti-inflammatory, GLA promotes tissue repair and healing. Research shows that hemp seed oil supports normal cellular functions, improves digestion, relieves pain, eases arthritis symptoms, enhances mental clarity, increases stamina, lowers stress hormones, fights depression, prevents premature aging, and strengthens hair, nails, and muscles.
Kale and collards are two superfoods that work together beautifully when combined into one dish. Both kale and collards are members of the cabbage family, and they share similar nutritional profiles. Collards are slightly sweeter than kale and are usually cooked longer, while kale is milder tasting and cooks faster. Either way, both greens offer plenty of nutrition.
Kale contains lots of beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in your system. It also offers folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sulfur, zinc, and fiber.
Collard leaves are higher in vitamin K, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B7, vitamin B8, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, biotin, choline, chromium, copper, iron, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sulfur, vanadium, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin F, vitamin G, vitamin H, vitamin J, vitamin P, vitamin Q, vitamin R, vitamin S, vitamin T, vitamin U, vitamin V, vitamin W, vitamin X, vitamin Y, vitamin Z, and zink.
In summary, there’s no doubt about it: eating healthy will improve your life! But how do we know what constitutes “healthy”? What does “super” mean? How do I get started on my journey toward better living?
The first step towards improving your diet is knowing where to start. This article provides some basic information regarding the benefits of consuming certain types of fruits and vegetables. However, before beginning any new dietary regimen, consult your physician to ensure that this plan is right for you.
Alex is a passionate fitness enthusiast dedicated to helping people lead healthier, more active lifestyles. He encourages small – sustainable changes over drastic transformations and works with people to create customized wellness plans. His mission is to help others benefit from the most effective methods available, sharing tips, strategies, and health & fitness tools on Gearuptofit.com to inspire people to live their best lives.