Superfoods pack a healthy punch. They're full of nutrients that help fight diseases, facilitate weight control, and boost wellness. Individually they don't have every nutrient, but they each have their own beneficial components. Superfoods are also readily available, easy to prepare, and are not packed with empty calories. Superfoods are not processed, fortified, loaded with fat, sugar, salt, or other potentially health-threatening additives.
Blueberries: blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C. They may help lower heart disease and cancer risk, aid the brain and vision, and ease inflammation.[1, 2]
Soy: soy helps lower cholesterol.
Whole grains: oatmeal and whole wheat are examples of whole grains. They are rich in folate, magnesium, chromium, and fiber.
Avocados: avocados have lots of fiber to help with weight management, and monounsaturated fat, which may help lessen the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Calcium: calcium helps prevent osteoporosis by building and strengthening bones.
Acai berries: these are a great source of antioxidants.
Fat-free milk: skim milk is rich in calcium.
Mushrooms: mushrooms boost the immune system and help protect against cancer, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The edible fungus provides virus prevention and treatment.
Fish: omega-3s are found in cold-water fish like salmon and sardines. They may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, relieve arthritis and depression, help those with Alzheimer's disease, and aid memory.[1, 2]
Eggs: eggs are an excellent source of protein, plus they have all nine essential amino acids. They can help prevent heart problems, and protect the brain and liver.
Fat-free yogurt: yogurt is rich in calcium. Some brands have active cultures -- although the number vary -- which promotes a healthy digestive system.[4, 5]
Apples: apples are a good source of antioxidants. In fact, the skin has more antioxidants than the pulp.
Nuts: nuts are a great source of healthy fat, protein, magnesium, and fiber.
Pomegranates: pomegranates are a great source of antioxidants. Juice from the fruit reduces plaque in the arteries, thus lowering heart disease and stroke risk.
Fiber: fiber helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich foods make you feel fuller longer, aiding with weight management. Fiber sources include whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.
Almonds: almonds are rich sources of monounsaturated fat and fiber. They can help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. They also help facilitate weight loss.
Red wine: alcohol in small doses can be heart healthy. It boosts good cholesterol and lowers blood clot risk.
Tea: black and green tea are great sources of antioxidants, which may hinder cancer growth. It also helps lower cholesterol (especially the green variety).
Cabbage: cabbage lowers cancer risk, boosts the immune system, fights infection and cleanses the blood.
Tomatoes: tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and E, and the mineral iron.
Garlic: garlic lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, and it may help prevent cancer.
Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and fiber. They have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes.
Flaxseed: flaxseed is a great source of protein, healthy fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and fiber. It helps alleviate inflammation.
Dark chocolate: 70% dark chocolate has antioxidants and fewer calories, too. Antioxidants in dark chocolate may reduce bad cholesterol levels and artery plaque build up.
Beans: beans are high in fiber, protein, potassium, and magnesium.
Dark green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, and collard greens are low in calories and carbohydrates but great sources of vitamins and minerals.
Low glycemic index
Their low glycemic index makes these superfoods a great choice for people with diabetes:
Dark green leafy vegetables
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
Fat-free yogurt and milk
Salmon and other fatty fish
How superfoods work
So called "superfoods" do have a variety of benefits, but that doesn't mean you have to eat any particular type of superfood constantly. You also shouldn't treat them as if they're a cure all. Adding some of these foods to your diet can help you prevent and battle disease, control your weight, and live longer.
Safety and considerations
- Try whole baked garlic for a system detox. It can help rid the body of heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury.
It's important to add fish to your diet two to three times per week, but avoid those that contain high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna, shark, and tilefish.[1, 2]
Choose wild caught rather than farmed fish.
Avoid fried or breaded foods. Opt for steamed, baked, or broiled instead.
Women should limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day and men should drink no more than two drinks on a daily basis, according to Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Heavy drinking can lead to high blood pressure and a variety of other physical and mental health problems.
Substitute unhealthy salt, sugar, and condiments with herbs and spices.
Avoid extra soy if you have a history of breast cancer.
Avoid processed foods.
- Susan Seliger; WebMD;"'Superfoods' Everyone Needs;" 2007
- Amy Paturel, MS, MPH;"The 13 Most Powerful Super Foods"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Womenshealth.gov;"Health Tip: Consider These Diabetes 'Superfoods'"
- Diana Hassan; Michigan State University; MSU Extension;"What Are Super-foods?" 2013
- Alexa Stevenson; Penn State News;"Probing Questions: Are 'Superfoods' Really Nutritional Powerhouses?;" 2009
- Mayo Clinic; Nutrition and Healthy Eating; "Alcohol use: If you drink, keep it moderate;" 2011