Superfoods are a variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy products and lean meats that are loaded with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. According to North Dakota State University, eating superfoods may lower your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. They can also boost your immune system, prevent certain types of infections and assist in weight control. Best of all, superfoods taste good and are easy to include in your daily meals.
Low-fat milk, yogurts, cheeses and eggs are all superfoods that are good sources of calcium, vitamin-D and protein. Dairy products help build strong teeth, muscles and bones. Calcium also aids in the clotting of your blood and keeps your nervous system in good working order.
Dark chocolate is considered a superfood because the cacao in dark chocolate is filled with disease-fighting antioxidants. Choose dark chocolate that has a 60-percent cacao content. Dark chocolate has fewer calories than milk chocolate, and may lower bad cholesterol levels and prevent plaque from building up in your arteries.
Almonds, pistachios, cashews, Brazil nuts and walnuts are several varieties of nuts that are considered superfoods. Nuts are often thought of as unhealthy due to their high fat content, but the fat found in nuts is monounsaturated fat, which is considered a heart-friendly fat. Nuts are also rich in fiber and B-vitamins. Eating nuts may lower the risk of developing hypertension and Type-2 diabetes.
Lean Red Meat
Lean red meat contains B-vitamins, zinc, niacin, protein and iron. Iron plays an essential role in moving oxygen through the blood to body tissue. Iron also changes food to energy, which promotes healthy cell activity. Include one 6-ounce serving of red meat in your daily diet to gain benefits from this superfood.
Berries of all colors are considered nutrient-rich superfoods. Strawberries, raspberries and cranberries, black berries and blueberries are high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C. These nutrients help your body maintain healthy cholesterol levels, a normal blood pressure and can protect your body against negative effects of aging of the skin and the brain.
Orange and Yellow Vegetables and Fruits
Yellow fruits and veggies like squash, pineapple and banana contain vitamins A, C and E, as well as fiber and potassium that are all good for your heart, skin, eyes and immune system. Carrots, oranges, mangos, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, papaya and cantaloupe are orange fruits and veggies that are filled with beta carotene. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that keeps your skin and the membranes of your body healthy.
Eating nutrient-filled cruciferous vegetables may reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are filled with sulforaphane which is an enzyme that stops carcinogens from damaging the cells in your body Stopping or reducing the damage to cells may lower your risk of developing some types of cancer.
Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale and collard greens are low in calorie and high in folate. Folate is a B-vitamin that helps prevent heart disease, birth defects, dementia and colon cancer. Eating a diet filled with healthy, dark leafy greens also can stop vision loss and slow the development of wrinkles and prevent damage to the skin.
Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal and pearled barley are a good source of fiber, vitamin E, and folic acid. They also contain thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium and zinc. These vitamins and nutrients help your body build strong muscle tissue and keep your heart healthy. The fiber in whole grains keep blood sugar levels even and can help reduce belly fat.
Omega-3 Rich Fish
Fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are superfoods that help lower your risk of developing heart disease. Omega-3s may also help those who suffer from arthritis, depression, and in some cases, may reduce memory loss and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- North Dakota State University Ramsey County Extension: Superfoods
- Michigan State University Extension: What Are Super Foods?
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Nutrifax Superfoods
- Chesapeake University: The 13 Most Powerful Superfoods; Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H.
- PETA Prime: Go Nuts for This Vegan Superfood