Superfoods are foods with high nutritional content that are beneficial to health and help to fight diseases. They are rich in antioxidants and other vital nutrients that are essential components of a healthy diet.
Superfoods are distinguished from other foods because of their high nutritional content and medicinal properties that help to boost the immune system, ward off diseases (such as cancer, heart disease, and kidney failure) and they even slow down the aging process.
The following list highlights some of the more popular superfoods and their health promoting properties. This list is by no means exhaustive but it covers some of the most potent and widely available and affordable superfoods.
(Please make a note of these foods and include them on your shopping list, so you won't forget to pick them up the next time you go shopping.)
Goji berries are small red berries that taste like a mixture between cranberries and cherries. They are loaded with nutrients and powerful antioxidants that help to combat cancer, slow down the aging process, and can even boost your sex life.
The following is an impressive list of nutrients found in Goji berries:
19 amino acids
21 trace minerals including germanium, an anti-cancer trace mineral rarely found in foods.
13% protein (more than whole wheat). The complete spectrum of antioxidant Carotenoids, including
Beta-Carotene (a better source than even carrots!) and Zeaxanthin (protects the eyes). Goji berries are one of the richest sources of carotenoids.
Vitamin C at higher levels than even oranges.
B complex vitamins, necessary for converting food into energy.
Vitamin E, which is rarely found in fruits and usually only found in grains and seeds.
Beta-Sitosterol, a known anti-inflammatory agent. Beta-Sitosterol also lowers cholesterol and is used for sexual impotence and prostate enlargement.
Essential Fatty Acids, which are required for the body's production of hormones, and smooth functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Cyperone, benefits the heart and lowers blood pressure, alleviates menstrual discomfort and used in the treatment of cervical cancer.
Solavetivone, a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compound.
Physalin, a natural compound that is active against all types of leukaemia (leukemia), also used in treatment of Hepatitis B.
Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce chlorine, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth and protects against fatty liver disease. Betaine also provides methyl groups in the body's energy reactions and can help reduce levels of homocysteine, a prime risk factor in heart disease. It also protects DNA.
Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides (abbreviated LBP) - proved to be glycoconjugates, meaning they are exceptional sources of the essential cell sugars (Mannose, Xylose, Rhamnose, Glucose, Arabinose and Galactose) that are necessary for proper immune function and intercellular communication. Goji is the only plant in which all 4 highly bioactive and unique polysaccharides (LBP1, LBP2, LBP3 and LBP4) have been discovered.
Pomegranates are loaded with nutrients. These superfoods contain approximately 40% of an adult's daily requirement of vitamin C, in one serving. They are also a good source of vitamin A and E, as well as fiber, iron, and potassium.
Pomegranates contain antioxidants such as ellagic acid, which protects cells from potentially destructive free radicals. New research also suggests that these super foods help to protect against Alzheimer's disease.
No superfoods list would be complete without a portion of oily fish. A number of major studies have proved that omega-three fatty acids contained in oily fish, help children with behavioral difficulties like ADHD, as well as fighting depression. These super foods also play an important part in reducing cholesterol and they help to combat cardiovascular disease. Examples of some oily fish are mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, fresh tuna (not tinned), and salmon.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Watercress, lettuce and kale are good, cheap and widely available green leafy vegetables. This group of superfoods is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins (especially A, B9, C, and E), calcium, iron, and beta-carotene.
These superfoods are quite common but very nutritious. Tomatoes contain skin-enriching nutrients, beta-carotene and vitamin E. They are also laden with lycopene, which has antioxidant properties and protects against a range of cancers.
While spinach can be classified as a leafy green vegetable, it deserves to be highlighted as a separate item within the superfoods group.
Why? Two reason...
First, it is extremely nutritious. It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins (A, B9, and C), minerals, and carotenes (including beta-carotene and carotenoid pigments also called lycopene). Spinach is particularly valued for its rich mineral, carotene, and carotenoid content. The minerals are believed to be beneficial in aiding recovery after illnesses and in the treatment of anemia, high blood pressure, and constipation. The carotenes and carotenoids in spinach are powerful antioxidants and may protect against various forms of cancer and other diseases, including age-related blindness in the elderly.
The second important reason why spinach should be noted separately from the green leafy vegetables group, is to caution readers. Despite their rich nutrient content, spinach should be consumed in moderate amounts. They contain oxalic acid, which if consumed in large quantities, may interfere with absorption of iron and calcium. In susceptible persons, oxalic acid may encourage the formation of kidney and bladder stones, if used in large quantities.
Whole grains are found in whole meal bread, brown rice, and whole-wheat products. They stimulate the gut's good bacteria and increase resistance to diseases. This superfood is another great immune system booster that can help the body to fight off many diseases and restore healthy biological functions.
Once considered to be fattening party snacks, nuts are truly one of nature's superfoods. Recent research by scientists at a university in Barcelona found that just 13g of nuts a day could cut the risk of heart attack by 30%, because of their high concentration of omega-three fatty acids. The researchers recommend eating a good handful of nuts daily.
However, avoid dry-roasted nuts and honey-roasted peanuts, laden with salt and full of sugar. Instead, opt for nuts that are unsalted, unroasted and as fresh as possible.
Walnuts are hailed for their cholesterol lowering properties. They are also perfect if your brain feels fried after a hard day at work. They contain high levels of omega-three, six, and nine fatty acids, which help to boost neuronal conduction (the firing of nerves in the brain).
Brazil nuts are also very good. They are laden with selenium, which supports the immune system and plays an important role in prostate health... making them great snacks for men especially.
Almonds are probably some of the most potent members of nuts superfoods family. They provide the best source of protein of all nuts. This makes them a good substitute for animal protein, especially for persons with kidney problems who wish to reduce consumption of animal-base products. Almonds also contain copper, zinc, iron, niacin, and vitamins B1, B2, and E. They are also a rich source of oleic acid, the ingredient in olive oil that protects against heart disease.