Superfoods are those specialized foods that really pack a wallop when it comes to nutritional benefits. While many foods provide health benefits to the average diet, there are a few choice foods that are so outstanding they have become a food category unto themselves.
Among the top contenders for the prized distinction of “Superfood” are the following:
These little blue power balls are packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, Vitamin E and folate. They boast a boatload of vitamins and minerals including potassium, manganese, Vitamin C, iron, riboflavin and niacin. One cup provides four grams of fiber. All this in a tiny blue fruit no bigger than a marble!
This Superfood is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a key part of chronic illness, so suppressing it is a key to good health. The list of other diseases and conditions that can be alleviated or avoided by a diet high in blueberries include the fight against free radicals in the system, diabetes, macular degeneration, cataracts, cancer and urinary tract infections.
Enjoy a one-half cup serving every chance you get fresh when in season, frozen the rest of the year. They are great as a mid-morning snack, sprinkled on top of your morning oatmeal or stirred into yogurt. Remember, the bluer the berry, the higher the level of antioxidant properties.
This much maligned vegetable of your childhood is packed with sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol to fight cancer and tumor growth. Two to three servings a week can help build bones, prevent cataracts and defeat abnormal cells while it boosts the immune system. Add in the good source of folate, fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, lutein and beta-carotene and you can see why this Superfood ranks high on every list of top food choices.
Broccoli is easy to fit into a good meal plan. Serve it steamed with a baked chicken breast or salmon. Add it to your next stir-fry. Eat it raw from a vegetable platter. This vegetable is versatile.
The seeds of the flax plant are a nutty-tasting source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Just a tablespoon a day, added to your yogurt, cereal, salad, soups or pancake batter provides 2 grams of fiber and a significant percentage of the daily requirement for thiamin, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Flaxseed has been sited as a good weapon in the fight against hormone related cancers and has been shown to provide relief from menopausal relatedsymptoms in women. As a source of both soluble and insoluble fibers, flaxseed is noted for its ability to encourage regular bowel movements, to control glucose spikes in the blood stream, and to help in lowering cholesterol.
Few vegetables (or is it a fruit?) have the versatility and universal appeal of the tomato. Tomatoes are processed into tomato paste, sauce, juice, soup and ketchup. Nearly everyone, everywhere, incorporates a tomato based product in their diet.
Lycopene is usually the first nutrient mentioned when the healthy value of tomatoes is discussed. Lycopene fights the negative effects of free radical damage which helps the body deal with age related issues. For a minimal amount of calories (one medium tomato has around 15 calories), the nutritional footprint of the tomato is huge. In addition to Lycopene, the tomato is a great source of fiber, folate, beta-carotene, lutein, niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and biotin.
When looking for ways to include tomatoes in your menu, remember to choose tomato based sauces for pasta, add fresh tomatoes to salads and, of course, there is always the ever popular pizza.
Yogurt is renowned for its live, active cultures that encourage gastrointestinal health, help prevent ulcers and avoid yeast infections, relieve lactose intolerance and boost the immune system. Just one serving a day provides a wonderful source of protein, calcium, riboflavin, zinc, Vitamin B12 and potassium.
Yogurt is great to eat as a snack, or include in your favorite recipe for a delicious sauce for salads, pastas or vegetables.
As if these great Superfoods weren’t enough to satisfy your taste buds and meet your nutritional requirements, there is one great tasting treat that is finally coming into its own as a Superfood Dark Chocolate.
Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and helps reduce blood pressure. It is still a source of calories and fat so, for maximum benefit, keep your splurge to a one ounce serving and be sure to choose a dark chocolate that is at least 60 percent cacao.