If you're hoping to lead a healthier lifestyle a great starting point is the foods you consume. A balanced diet can help you lose weight, feel more energetic and possibly even live a longer lifestyle. If getting your diet under control is an important life decision you're currently facing, increasing the number of superfoods you eat is a good place to start.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a superfood as, "a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person's health." Instead of sending you on a wild goose chase to find these foods, we've dug up the most beneficial options available.
Dark Leafy Greens Are An Excellent Source Of Folate
Folate is an essential nutrient, and dark leafy greens are full of it. Pregnant women actually take folate supplements to make sure that their babies develop properly, so if it's good enough to make humans out of, it's definitely worth consuming on a daily basis.
Dark leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, and spinach are also excellent sources of zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and fiber.
Garlic Has Medicinal Properties
Garlic adds tons of flavor to your cooking, but its also a great source of manganese, vitamin Cm, vitamin B6, selenium, and fiber. People have been using garlic as medicine for centuries, and research shows that this plant may be effective at lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds which may even play a role in preventing some types of cancer. Basically, it's good for everything except for your breath.
Green Tea Comes In Many Forms
Green tea in powdered form or in leaf form has a lot of health benefits. The green tea plant is originally from China. In Asia, people use green tea in traditional Chinese medicine. Green tea is full of antioxidants, which have been shown to possibly reduce rates of cancer, and it features compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects.
The caffeine in green tea can possibly make it an effective weight loss tool, as well as a mild appetite suppressant.
Olive Oil Is Liquid Gold
Olive oil is a healthy source of fat that's extracted from the fruit of olive trees. Most olive oils are made in the Mediterranean and this oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is a great source of what's known as MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids. MUFAs are great for heart health.
Adding olive oil to your diet could help you reduce your risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America.
Tomatoes Are An Excellent Source Of Lycopene
Tomatoes are actually one of the healthiest foods you can put in your body. Also, tomatoes are delicious, so that's a nice bonus. You can put them on sandwiches, turn them into sauces or salsas, or throw them in all kinds of salads.
The reason tomatoes are so healthy is because they're full of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. They're also full of vitamins which actually become more intense and impactful when the tomatoes are cooked.
Ginger Is Great For Gut Health
Ginger root is a spice that comes from the root of a flowering plant that grows in China. It's used for both it's delicious flavor and it's medicinal properties. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is used to calm upset stomachs.
Also, ginger contains antioxidants such as gingerol that are great for overall health. Studies have shown that ginger may reduce the risk of developing several chronic illnesses such as dementia and heart disease.
Black Beans Are A Great Source Of Protein
Black beans are packed with protein, but unlike many other sources of protein, they don't contain a lot of fat. What they do contain is a lot of is fiber, and this potent combination of protein and fiber will keep you feeling full for a long time.
These beans will also help reduce constipation and bloating. They lower cholesterol levels, and they contain magnesium which is a key ingredient for maintaining bone health.
Salmon Is A Superfish
A lot of fish and shellfish are full of nutrients and salmon is no exception. In fact, this fish is an excellent source of potassium, selenium, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil is so healthy that people take it in pill form, but if you eat salmon, you can get it right from the source. Salmon is known for being a "brain food" because of all of those omega-3s.
Flaxseeds Are Easy To Eat
Flaxseeds are super rich in dietary fiber. They also contain omega-3 fats, which, as we know, are good for heart health. Flaxseeds have been proven to help digestion and reduce rates of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Flaxseeds are super easy to incorporate into your diet. You can grind them up and sprinkle them on just about anything, like oatmeal, cereal, salads, and smoothies. We could all use a little more flax in our lives
Brazil Nuts Are Full Of Selenium
Brazil nuts are considered a superfood because of their high selenium content. In fact, brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium available to us. Selenium is an essential mineral and antioxidant that's needed to support immune function.
It also helps our nerves and cells function properly. It's also necessary for the thyroid hormones to function properly within our bodies. Basically, we need selenium to live, and brazil nuts are delicious, so it's a win-win.
An Apple A Day
Everyone knows the saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," and sayings don't become sayings for no reason. Apple skin is full of fiber and an antioxidant known as quercetin.
The apple flesh is full of water to hydrate you and keep you feeling full. The best way to eat apples is fresh from the tree. When you cook an apple, you cook out a lot of the vitamins.
Eggs Are Perfect Protein Packs
While eggs do contain a lot of cholesterol, so far there is no conclusive evidence that high cholesterol foods actually raise your blood cholesterol. Eggs are still considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
They're full of protein and antioxidants that are good for eye health. Eating eggs could even increase "good" HDL cholesterol levels in some people, which could lead to a reduced risk of developing heart disease.
Let Turmeric Spice Up Your Life
If you're looking for a spice that has real medicinal qualities, start with a healthy spoonful of turmeric. This bright orange spice has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties, Also, it tastes great and it adds a lovely color to whatever you're cooking.
This spice goes great with curries and soups of all sorts. You can buy it whole or already dried and ground depending on your own preference in spices.
Mushrooms Make Everything Better
According to Healthline, many kinds of mushrooms contain polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols, and lipids, all of which have been linked to lowering cholesterol and reducing cancer risks. So putting mushrooms on your pizza won't take away pizza's unhealthy qualities, but it will give you some nice health benefits.
Mushrooms are great for adding flavor and can absorb a lot of spices to ensure the taste you are attempting to achieve doesn't get drowned out by other ingredients.
Lentils Help People Manage Diabetes
Lentils can be classified as a superfood because they play a role in managing and preventing certain diseases. These little legumes are full of B vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.
Eating lentils can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their disease. They can also help people lower their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Lentils can make you feel full fast, and they can fill you up for a long time, so they're a great tool for weight management.
Bell Peppers Get Healthier As They Get Older
Did you know that bell peppers contain a whole day's worth of vitamin C? They also contain a bunch of carotenoids, which are antioxidants like beta carotene. Here's a tip when it comes to bell peppers: The riper they are, the more nutrients they contain.
You don't want to wait until they're limp and they can quickly develop mold if you wait to long to bite into one of these delicious superfoods.
Seaweed Is Different From Ordinary Vegetables
You can get seaweed in a bunch of different forms, but the form you're probably most familiar with is nori, which is the dried seaweed that's used to make sushi and maki. Seaweed is full of tons of nutrients including vitamin K, folate, iodine, and fiber.
Because seaweed grows in the water and not on land, it contains a lot of compounds you can't find in vegetables that grow in soil.
A Sweet Potato Doesn't Raise Your Blood Sugar Too Much
Unlike regualr potatoes, sweet potatoes are full of nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C. A lot of orange vegetables contain vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of carotenoids, which is a type of antioxidant.
Even though sweet potatoes are sweet, they don't actually raise your blood sugar as much as you'd think they could. In fact, sweet potatoes can be used as a tool to control blood sugar levels.
Kiwis Are Full Of Vitamins
These small furry fruits are full of flavor and nutrients. Kiwis contain vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. All of those vitamins in a little 40 calorie package.
Kiwis also contain antioxidants and they're a good source of fiber. You can eat kiwis plain, with a spoon, or you can blend them into delicious smoothies. Just remember like all of the foods on our diet, you should balance your kiwi consumption with other dietary considerations.
Quinoa Contains More Protein Than Any Other Grain
If you can't kick that carb habit, swap out white rice or pasta for quinoa, a gluten free, high protein grain that contains adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids. This grain also contains tons of fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and beneficial antioxidants.
Make a quinoa salad and throw in a bunch of other superfoods like green peppers, mushrooms, or leafy greens.
Avocado Isn't Just For Millennials
Raise your hand if you think avocados are the most delicious addition to almost any food item. Anything you put avocado on becomes better instantly. These squishy, smooth orbs of goodness contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
Just like olive oil, avocados are high in MUFAs or monounsaturated fats. That means that avocados are good for heart health and they can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Cinnamon Is Delicious And Nutritious
Research suggests that cinnamon is actually really good for our brains and our circulatory systems. This spice tastes amazing in porridge, smoothies, hot drinks, and just about every dessert— just don't use the positive effects of cinnamon as an excuse to eat more dessert.
Cinnamon is full of antioxidants and it can even help lower blood sugar levels. Also, chewing on a stick of cinnamon makes your breath smell amazing.
Berries Kick Your Smoothies Into High Gear
All berries are considered superfoods, but not all berries are created equal. The berries that contain the most antioxidants are blueberries, but the other berries have health benefits too. A lot of berries are full of phytochemicals that protect our cells from harm.
You can eat fresh berries when they're in season, but when they're not in season, frozen berries are just as good for you and they go really well in blended smoothies.
Brown Rice Has More Fiber Than White Rice
Brown rice contains way more fiber and protein than white rice. It's also often less processed than store bought white rice. All of that extra fiber and protein goes a long way when it comes to reducing your risk of developing heart disease.
Fiber is also great for gut health and it keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It takes longer to cook than white rice, so be sure to take that into account when you're meal prepping.
Kefir Is Good For Gut Health
Kefir is a drink made out of fermented milk similar to yogurt that contains protein, calcium, B vitamins, potassium, and probiotics. Kefir actually has even more probiotic strains than regular yogurt. Probiotics are great for promoting healthy digestion and gut health.
You can make kefir yourself at home or you can buy it premade at the grocery store. If you don't eat or drink dairy, there are dairy-free kefir varieties that are made with coconut milk.
Sunflower Seeds Are A Great Source Of Zinc
Sunflower seeds are rich in B vitamins, which are essential for keeping your brain and nerves healthy. They're also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin E.
Sunflower seeds are a good natural source of zinc and they've been shown to help boost people's immune systems. These little seeds are super healthy, but just make sure that you aren't getting a bunch of salt with your superfood. Always buy unsalted sunflower seeds.
Acai Berries Are Known For Being A Superfood
Acai berries always seem to come up when people talk about superfoods — and for good reason. These little berries are packed with antioxidants which are beneficial for your brain, heart, and overall health.
These berries also contain healthy fats and fiber and they don't contain very much sugar compared to other fruits. You can eat acai berries plain, or you can blend them into smoothies or smoothie bowls with other fruits and nut milk.
Steel Cut Oats Really Fill You Up
Steel cut oats contain a whole bunch of fiber to help keep you fuller for longer. Oats cut this way preserve the whole grain, so your body has to work harder to break down your breakfast. This means that you'll actually burn calories while you eat your oatmeal.
Many people agree that steel cut oats taste better too and they're a little bit hardier than rolled oats. You can also use them to make overnight oats for your breakfast.
Almonds Are Super Versatile
Almonds are full of omega-3 fats, protein, fiber, and vitamins. You can never go wrong by eating a handful of raw almonds. These nuts will keep you feeling full and they'll supply your body with the nutrients it needs.
Almonds also contain vitamin E and they've been shown to lower blood sugar levels. These nuts reduce hunger and promote weight loss and you can turn them into all sorts of things like almond milk and almond butter.
According to consultant nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta, "sesame seeds are a good source of energy due to their high fat content. They contain healthy fats like polyunsaturated fatty acids and Omega-6. They also contain fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus that helps boost energy levels."
While eating just a few sesame seeds on a bun isn't going to do much for you, sesame products like tahini, which is a sesame paste, can deliver the goods.