Although there is not an established definition for "superfoods," the University of California at Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences reports that the term is used for foods with health benefits beyond basic nutrition. For example, many superfoods generally contain large concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help fight cancer or reduce your risk of heart disease. If you are on a diet, you may be curious which superfoods can provide health benefits and support your weight loss efforts.
Dr. Jonny Bowden, PhD and Clinical Nutrition Specialist, explains that although nuts are high in calories, they are also very high in healthful unsaturated fats that can prevent heart disease and lower your cholesterol. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts and macadamia nuts are all good choices. Enjoy them in moderation; 5 oz. of nuts a week is a reasonable amount.
Guava is a tasty tropical fruit that can support your weight loss goals. Guava is a superfood that contains more lycopene than any other food or fruit per serving. Lycopene is a powerful anticancer antioxidant. A cup of guava has 8 g of fiber that will help keep your blood sugar stable and keep your body from releasing insulin, which can store fat.
Blueberries are perhaps the first food that comes to mind when "superfoods" are discussed. The American Council on Exercise recommends blueberries because they are low in calories; 50 berries have approximately 40 calories. Blueberries contain an array of antioxidants and may be especially helpful in preventing cognitive decline from diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's according to "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth" by Dr. Jonny Bowden.
Spinach can be considered a superfood because it is also extremely low in calories -- 7 calories per cup -- and is packed with vitamins such as vitamins A, C and K. Spinach also is a good source of calcium, iron and antioxidant compounds such as neoxanthin, which causes prostate cancer cells to self-destruct, according to Dr. Bowden.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is under-appreciated and usually only used as an ingredient for salads. Kale, however, is a nutritional powerhouse and has more "oxygen radical absorbance capacity" than any other food according to "The 150 Healthiest Foods." In other words, kale is most effective food for destroying free radicals that can damage your DNA and cause oxidative stress.
Dr. Bowden recommends you eat eggs if you are trying to lose weight. Not only are they a good source of protein but they also contain high amounts of lutein, which supports your eye health, and choline, which supports your cognitive function. Egg whites are an excellent diet food, but the majority of the vitamins and minerals are such as vitamin D, iron, and folate are found in the yolk, not the white.
Beans, especially red kidney beans, are a superfood that will support your diet plans. Beans are loaded with fiber, which will help curb your appetite and keep your blood glucose levels stable. According to Dr. Bowden, red beans and kidney beans are especially loaded with phytochemicals such as diosgenin that can prevent cancer by inhibiting cancer cells before they multiply.
Grapefruit is one of the best weight loss superfoods. A medium grapefruit or half a large grapefruit has only about 40 calories and is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium and phytosterols. A unknown mechanism in grapefruit can improve your insulin resistance, which will help you lose weight according to researchers at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, California.
Raspberries are a superfood that will help you lose weight because they are extremely high in fiber. Raspberries contain 8 g of dietary fiber per cup -- more than any other berry fruit. Dr. Bowden notes that raspberries contain a compound called "ellagic acid," which can inhibit the growth of tumors caused by certain carcinogens.
All type of fish are "diet-friendly" but Dr. Jonny Bowden recommends sardines as a diet superfood. Sardines are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. One can of sardines provides you with over 150 percent your daily value for vitamin B-12. Dr. Bowden explains that sardines are "low on the food chain" and do not carry the risks of mercury contamination.
- "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth"; Dr. Jonny Bowden; 2007
- University of California - Davis: Quest for 'Superfoods' Influences Consumer Food Choices
- JonnyBowdenBlog.com; Dr. Jonny Bowden: 10 Superfoods for Weight Loss (Part One)
- JonnyBowdenBlog.com; Dr. Jonny Bowden: 10 Superfoods for Weight Loss (Part Two)
- American Council on Exercise: Do Negative Calorie Foods Exist?