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.
These foods are by no means new since they have been around for centuries. Within recent times, however, more and more people have begun to rediscover their tremendous health benefits, as they search for answers to many health challenges.
At the top of the dietary tree are some so called superfoods that include fruits, vegetables, pulses and nuts. They are referred to as super 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.
Many degenerative diseases can be prevented and in some cases reversed, if we simply changed our diets and lifestyles. Unfortunately, due to ignorance or poor dietary and lifestyle choices, many become victims of preventable degenerative diseases, and suffer needlessly.
The following list highlights some of the more popular super foods 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.
It is common knowledge that citrus fruits like oranges and mandarins are rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps to boost the immune system. But did you know that green, leafy vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which are powerful boosters to your immune system? They play an important role in defending the body against free radicals that cause many degenerative diseases.
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.
Why not start with some of these simple superfoods? There are various other green, leafy vegetables that can be easily incorporated as part of a healthy diet. The best way to extract their rich nutrient, however, is by consuming them raw. In some cases, juicing might be to best way to extract and consume these dietary masters.
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.
...So, no need to be like "Popeye", who consumes spinach every few minutes. If you don't know who "Popeye" is, do not worry - he's just a cartoon character who eats a lot of spinach to get super natural strength.
Notwithstanding this caution, both spinach and tomatoes should be on your shopping list. The good thing about these super foods is that they are full of nutrients, widely available and relatively cheap.
Whole grains are the next items that should be on every superfoods list. 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.
So, when next you go shopping pick up some whole meal or whole grain bread rather than white bread; buy brown rice rather than white rice and select other whole-wheat snacks and products.
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.
So, be sure to place these nutrient packed super foods at the top of your shopping list. Keep some on the dinner table and on your desk at work. Rather than snacking on candies and chocolates, have a few almonds, walnuts, or Brazil nuts instead.
Goji berries are small red berries that taste like a mixture between cranberries and cherries. They are loved by celebrities and were named by the New York Times as one of the most potent foods. But what exactly make these tiny berries so potent? 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:
With all these nutrients and other health promoting properties, it is little wonder that many Hollywood stars and top athletes use this wonder berry to stay at the top of their game.
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.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all superfoods, but it provides good, well-balanced options. Maintaining a balanced healthy diet can be quite a challenge but an effort should be made to incorporate as many of these superfoods, as possible, into your diet. Not only would your health improve but your cells, tissues, and other organs will begin to function better, and you will begin to feel better. Your stamina will improve and your body will be able to effectively fight and prevent many diseases (fewer trips to the doctor).
By incorporating these (and other) superfoods into your diet, you should benefit from a higher energy level, glowing skin, a brighter outlook and a much better quality of life. Your body will also be better equipped to prevent and fight diseases.