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even among healthy foods, though, some stand out. file dietician Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD, talks about superfoods, a class of super-charged, super-healthy foods, and what they can do for your body.
Reading: What Is a Superfood, Anyway?
What superfoods do
Superfoods aren ’ thyroxine a nutritionally recognized category of foods, so there are no specific criteria a food must meet to be considered one. But the entitle is typically reserved for natural foods that are specially nutrient-dense while broadly being low in calories .
“ Superfoods help promote health by increasing your immune function and decreasing your chance of disease prevention or progress, ” Czerwony says .
Each superfood has different nutritional properties, but overall, they ’ re associated with :
- Heart health.
- A strong immune system.
- Cancer prevention.
- Reduced inflammation.
- Lower cholesterol.
What makes a food a superfood?
Superfoods are, in a sense, precisely what they sound like : a class of foods that are super-healthy. But not every healthy food is a superfood .
“ Superfoods are those that offer exceeding health benefits, beyond what you ’ five hundred expect based on good their nutritional profile, ” Czerwony explains .
In especial, superfoods are rich in :
- Antioxidants: These natural compounds protect your cells from damage and may lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
- Minerals: These essential nutrients (think calcium, potassium, iron and the like) help your body perform at its highest level.
- Vitamins: It’s better to get these organic compounds from natural foods — like superfoods — than from supplements.
Superfoods may besides be high in :
- Fiber: Fiber helps decrease cholesterol, prevent heart disease and control glucose in Type 2 diabetes.
- Flavonoids: Found in plants, flavonoids (once called vitamin P) have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Healthy fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, a.k.a. “good fats,” help lower your cholesterol and prevent heart disease and stroke.
What foods qualify as superfoods?
“ Most superfoods come from plants, but some fish and dairy make the cut, besides, ” Czerwony says. She shares some of the most popular superfoods and what makes them therefore, well, super .
Don ’ t let anyone shame you out of your sexual love of avocado crispen. “ Avocados are fat in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which reduce your hazard of heart disease and stroke, ” Czerwony says. Just one avocado contains more potassium than a banana — and the health benefits of avocado go on and on .
Add avocado to your diet: Sauteed Veggies with Avocado and Poached Eggs will fill you with healthy fats and tons of nutrients. You can even work avocado into desserts, like decadent but healthy Avocado Brownie Bites .
Loaded with flavonoids, the American Heart Association says berries can help lower the gamble of heart attacks in women. Berries in the superfoods class include :
- Acai berries.
- Goji berries.
- Tart cherries.
Add berries to your diet: The easiest way to eat berries is, of course, to equitable eat berries. But you can besides start your day with a Berry Smoothie Bowl or make your own Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce as an accompaniment or side .
These root veggies get their jewel-toned coloring from betalains, a natural plant pigment that contains antioxidants and is associated with anti-inflammatory properties. “ chronic excitement in the consistency is linked to diseases like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma, ” Czerwony says. Add beets to your diet: Dip your front-runner veggies into Beet Muhamarra, or whip up a arresting slope of Roasted Beets with Oranges. You can even make beets the focal point of your meal with Meatless Beet Burgers .
4. Chia seeds
These teeny-tiny seeds, which come from a unfolding plant native to Mexico and Guatemala, are a good source of fiber, protein and antioxidants, a well as vitamins and minerals like morning star, magnesium, iron and zinc. At just 100 calories per ounce, they ’ re besides a low-calorie food .
Add chia seeds to your diet: Toss ’ em into a smoothie, oatmeal, or Chia and Berry Breakfast Pudding, or add a healthy punch to chia seed muffins .
Your favorite cozy spice is a healthy one, besides ! Cinnamon is known to reduce ignition, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It ’ south besides a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, a heart-healthy consume manner rich people in herb and spices .
Add cinnamon to your diet: Put cinnamon in whatever you please, including oatmeal, coffee and more. light Baked Cinnamon Apples are a tasty fall favorite, and Pumpkin-Apple Chia Muffins mix multiple superfoods for an autumnal breakfast or nosh.
6. Dark, leafy greens
It ’ mho no storm that salads are healthy. But skip the iceberg lettuce and go for dark, leafy greens, which are packed with vitamins A, C, and E and may prevent cancer. “ They ’ re besides high in vitamin K, which is good for bone health, and vitamin bc, which promotes kernel health, ” Czerwony says .
There are plenty of greens to choose from, which includes but international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine limited to :
- Beet greens.
- Bok choy.
- Broccoli raab.
- Collard greens.
- Dandelion greens.
- Mustard greens.
- Swiss chard.
- Turnip greens.
Add dark, leafy greens to your diet: Keep your simple salad simple but supercharged with discard Green Salad with Simple Vinaigrette Dressing, or switch it up with Asian-Season Mustard Greens. You can have your greens for dessert, excessively, with a Creamy Strawberry and Greens Smoothie .
This flavorful vegetable is known to boost immunity, work as an anti-inflammatory, improve cardiovascular health and more — not to mention, it adds a tasty recoil to fair about any serve .
Raw garlic is healthier than cooked garlic, but fermented black garlic, which is packed with herculean antioxidants, may be the healthiest of them all .
Add garlic to your diet: Toss garlic into your stir-fries, soup and precisely about anything else you desire, or put it front and center with Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Tomato Bake or Crushed Garlic and Basil Bruschetta .
This popular spiciness contains vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. The many health benefits of ginger besides include pain relief and blood carbohydrate regulation, not to mention nausea relief when you ’ rhenium sick ( hence Mom insistence you sip ginger ale when you ’ ve got an broken stomach ) .
Add ginger to your diet: Sprinkle it on veggies, in stir-fries and soups and even in your blistering tea. Can ’ t get enough ? Blend up a Ginger Spice Smoothie or make a batch of Ginger Sweet Potato Pancakes .
9. Green tea
“ Green tea leaves are loaded with catechin, an antioxidant compound with anti-carcinogenic properties that helps protect your cells from wrong, ” Czerwony says. green tea is besides associated with preventing cancer, fighting heart disease and lowering blood pressure, to name barely a few benefits .
Add green tea to your diet: Enjoy a guilt-free, caffeine-free mug of green tea any time you need a boost. Want to switch it up ? Try this fleeceable Tea Infused With Apples and Cinnamon .
These small light legumes are high in protein, which is full of life for cellular repair, making them a desirable trade for kernel. Bonus ? They ’ re besides loaded with vitamin bc, iron and potassium .
Add lentils to your diet: Make them the star of the picture with entrees like Lentils with Roasted Curry Tomatoes and Curried Cauliflower Lentils with Cucumber Raita. Or serve them on the side in Crunchy Bistro Lentil Salad
This Thanksgiving darling is for more than fair proto-indo european. “ Pumpkin is rich in xanthophyll and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that protect your eyes from age-related issues like macular degeneration and cataracts, ” Czerwony says .
Among its other health benefits, pumpkin is besides loaded with antioxidants and potassium, which can help prevent affection disease. One cup of pumpkin contains 16 % of your day by day commend total of potassium .
Add pumpkin to your diet: Get cozy with Pumpkin Lentil Soup ( two superfoods in one ! ) or swap your favorite fall desserts with healthy pumpkin recipes. And preceptor ’ t toss those pumpkin seeds, which are packed with health benefits of their own .
The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of pisces each week. This particular fishy favorite is high in omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease — and which your body can ’ triiodothyronine make itself .
Add salmon to your diet: Your best count is to stick to wild salmon. There are just about arsenic many delectable pink-orange recipes out there as there are fish in the ocean, so pick your darling and love !
13. Yogurt and kefir
yogurt and kefir ( a fermented milk drink ) are probiotic wide of good bacteria that support gut health, and they ’ re besides a commodity source of calcium and protein. They ’ re associated with cancer prevention and immune system stimulation .
Add yogurt and kefir to your diet: Make indisputable to choose yogurt without added boodle ( greek yogurt is best ), then try comfortable Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits. You can make kefir on your own or find it in the yogurt aisle at your grocery store .
adjacent time you ’ ra meal-prepping or grabbing a nosh, turn to superfoods for that extra wallop of the good stuff. Your body will thank you !