Foods That Are Straight-Up Superfoods
While most natural, plant-based foods are good for your overall well being, superfoods are those that are extra rich in nutrients. Each superfood has different benefits, but they generally possess some combination of protein, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. These foods are thought to have amazing effects on your skin, immune system, brain function and more.
Although some people have challenged the use of the term "superfoods," there's no denying that some foods have more health benefits than others.
Turmeric is a vibrant, yellow spice that has been used for thousands of years. It is native to South Asia and has been used as coloring and flavor in Indian curries. Studies have found that this spice is not just a great addition to dishes, but also bursting with health benefits.
Almonds are one of the most popular nuts and full of B and E vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and other nutrients They are also a major source of healthy fats that can lower cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.
Blueberries contain anthocyanin, a compound responsible for the berry's color and health benefits. They also contain 24 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, which your skin relies on to keep healthy. Regular consumption of blueberries can improve the texture of your skin and inhibit damage from the sun and pollution.
Ginger is one of the healthiest spices in the world and is often used in traditional medicines. It’s known to help ease symptoms of nausea caused by travel sickness, pregnancy and cancer treatments, and it’s great for digestion. Consuming a cup of ginger tea after a big meal can ease the emptying of the stomach.
This leafy green vegetable is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is rich in vitamin K, which helps calcium absorption and reduces calcium lost through urine, leading to stronger bones. People with low vitamin K levels are more susceptible to bone fracture.
Mushrooms have long been used in traditional medicines, and their health benefits explain why. The high antioxidant content in mushrooms is thought to help prevent diseases such as lung, breast and prostate cancer. This may be because mushrooms contain vitamin D, which may reduce the growth rates of some cancers.
Spinach is an iron- and magnesium-rich food. These two minerals are needed for energy metabolism and muscle and nerve function. The antioxidants in spinach help fight free radicals that can cause oxidative stress, which in turn heightens the risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Salmon is a fatty fish, and apart from being tasty, it's also full of nutrients. It's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are an 'essential fat' and must be consumed through diet, as your body doesn't have the ability to make it. The health benefits include lowering blood pressure, decreasing inflammation and making sure the cells lining your arteries are kept healthy.
Seaweed is, perhaps surprisingly, full of nutritious value. It ranges in color and shape and is very versatile. It contains iodine and tyrosine, which are essential for a healthy thyroid function. Iodine and tyrosine help the thyroid release hormones that help your body grow, produce energy and repair damaged cells.
These creamy fruits aren't just great on toast. They're also packed with antioxidants that are needed for healthy eyes. Studies have shown that consumption of avocados over a long period of time can minimize the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which is frequent in older people.
Eggs contain choline, which is an important nutrient that most people lack. Choline is responsible for building cell membranes and generating signaling molecules in the brain. Eggs are also high in proteins, which are needed to build muscle and optimize bone health. A single egg contains roughly six grams of protein.
Throughout ancient history, garlic was commonly used for its medicinal benefits. It is a well-known antibiotic and can combat the common cold and flu. Studies have found that daily garlic supplements reduce the length and number of colds by more than half compared to a placebo.
Quinoa is a highly nutritious gluten-free grain. It contains all nine amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. This makes quinoa a great plant-based protein option for vegans and vegetarians alike. It also has a low glycemic index, which means it’s good for blood sugar control.
Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks, and its compounds can improve brain function. Like coffee, it contains caffeine, but the difference is that it has just enough to generate a response without adverse effects. Caffeine enhances brain function by improving reaction time and memory. Green tea also contains L-theanine, which increases dopamine, the chemical responsible for lifting your mood.
Oats are a gluten-free whole grain and are incredibly nutritious. They contain a fiber called beta-glucan, which can reduce cholesterol, blood sugar levels and insulin responsiveness, and it can increase the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Since it forms a thick solution in the stomach, it helps maintain a feeling of fullness for longer.
Olive oil, especially virgin olive oil, is high in oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat which helps reduce inflammation and in turn the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and obesity. Olive oil is also packed with antioxidants such as oleocanthal, which has similar effects to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory painkiller.
Broccoli is excellent for a healthy bowel function as it is full of fiber and antioxidants. Having healthy bacteria in your colon is essential for your digestion, and consuming broccoli helps to maintain bowel regularity. The high vitamin C content in this vegetable also contributes to a healthy immune system.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks and has been found to have numerous health benefits. The caffeine content in coffee can significantly increase energy levels and help you feel less tired. This simultaneously improves brain function, such as memory, mood and reaction times. Coffee also increases your metabolic rate, which is linked to fat burning and weight loss.
Pomegranates are classed as berries and are incredibly healthy fruits. The edible seeds have the ability to fight prostate cancer by slowing down and even stopping cancer cell reproduction. Studies have shown that drinking pomegranate juice every day significantly slows down the growth of the antigen that causes prostate cancer.
Exercise lovers should consume these root vegetables since they can have a positive effect on physical performance. Beets are high in nitrates, which reduce the use of oxygen during exercise by affecting the performance of mitochondria. Eating beetroots or drinking their juice may improve running performance and increase stamina and oxygen efficiency.
Lentils are legumes and may be black, yellow, red or green. They are rich in polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits. Studies have found that lentils have the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells, particularly in skin cells. It's worth mentioning that lentils don't lose their health benefits during the cooking process.
Pumpkins are fantastic for your immune system. They are high in vitamin A which helps the body fight infections. They're also a great source of vitamin C, which increases the production of white blood cells and helps wounds and injuries heal quicker. Another immune-boosting vitamin is vitamin E, which pumpkins have plenty of.
Acai berries have recently gained popularity for their health benefits. They have an incredibly high amount of antioxidants, even more than blueberries and cranberries. This makes them efficient in preventing cancer cells from forming, growing and invading other cells.
Cocoa dates back to the Mayan civilization when it was used as a medicine. Today, it's more commonly known for its role in chocolate production. Cocoa contains flavanols that improve the function of blood vessels and lower blood pressure. This in turn reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Chia seeds may be small, but they are packed with essential nutrients. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that help combat heart diseases, such as thrombosis and arrhythmias. Chia seeds also decrease harmful cholesterol levels and remove plaque that forms in the arteries.
Greek yogurt is made by straining out excess lactose, water and minerals, which ends up creating a product with less sugar and more carbs. Yogurt has a very high amount of protein, which is essential for your immune system to function correctly and for muscle development. It's especially great for vegetarians who need to avoid animal protein.
Cauliflower has high amounts of fiber and water, which are crucial for digestive tract health and preventing constipation and the development of colon cancer. This vegetable also helps with memory, sleep, learning and muscle movement since it contains choline.
Chili peppers are mainly used in cooking as a spice. The plant’s main compound, capsaicin, can provide pain relief since it binds with pain receptors and makes them insensitive to other types of pain, such as heartburn or migraines. Studies show that regular consumption of chilies can also help burn, leading to a faster metabolic speed and weight loss.
Tomatoes are great for skin health because they contain the carotenoid lycopene. This substance has the ability to protect the skin against severe sunburn. One study showed that people who consumed tomatoes and olive oil each day for 10 weeks experienced fewer sunburns.
Chickpeas are a type of legume and may be black, green or red. One cup of chickpeas provides 12.5 grams of fiber, which can lower blood glucose levels and minimize the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.