What are Superfoods

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Blueberries, olive oil, broccoli, oily fish, and low-fat yogurt are some of the most amazing superfoods to add to your diet. The term ‘superfood’ is used for foods with a higher density of nutrients, proven health benefits, and no or relatively few adverse properties. With a lot of research going on, it seems as if new superfoods are announced every week!

List of Superfoods

Here are the reasons why some of the below-listed superfoods are important to include in your diet, so that next time you eat one, you’ll at least know why it’s good for you!

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around. It is rich in vitamin A, which is needed for growth and tissue repair, and vitamin K that helps boost bone strength and supports cardiovascular health. The vitamin C content in broccoli helps you develop and maintain a strong immune system.

In addition, a report published in the Amyloid Journal suggests that broccoli has been named the most potent fruit or vegetable in terms of boosting brain function and staving off Alzheimer’s disease (also effective, but less so, are apples, potatoes, oranges, and radishes). Perhaps most ‘super’ of all are its powers against cancer. A 2019 study has linked the compound I3C found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli to the release of PTEN, a cancer-suppressing gene, to perform its function efficiently.

Broccoli has also been found to reduce the risk of cataracts and birth defects. And all this comes with hardly any calories – just 25-30 per cup. It can be eaten raw or cooked. To preserve all the beneficial nutrients, steam it, add to a stir-fry or microwave it with a little water.

Blueberries

Blueberries are extremely dense in protective antioxidants such as vitamins C and E – a handful of blueberries (100 grams/ 4oz) provides the same amount of antioxidants as five portions of other fruits and vegetables. Regular consumption has been shown to support good health in many ways, including guarding against neurological diseases, cystitis, and heart problems.

One cup (145 grams) contains just 83 calories, and studies suggest that blueberries actually break down fat cells – bonus!

It’s difficult to believe something so small and delicious could be so good for you, but blueberries have been lauded by many nutritionists as the ultimate superfood.

Olive Oil

Olive oil, often considered as a key to the health-giving properties of the Mediterranean diet, has several benefits. It is high in monounsaturated fats (and low in saturated fats), so it boosts the levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). This helps keep blood pressure regulated and reduces the risk of developing heart diseases.

Olive oil is also rich in valuable antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, and lower the severity of asthma symptoms.

You can use olive oil in cooking, of course, but to get the full health benefits, go for unrefined or virgin varieties and use them in unheated applications. Try drizzling extra virgin olive oil onto salads or prepared vegetables, blend it together with chickpeas or beans to make your own hummus or dips, or simply use it in place of butter on fresh bread.

Oily Fish

The key to the ‘super’ status of fish such as salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, and fresh tuna is simple: omega-3 fatty acids. These are the type of fatty acids required to maintain a healthy metabolism.

Omega-3s have been shown to strengthen bones, boost brain power, help maintain a healthy heart, improve circulation, and increase the chances of survival after a heart attack.

Nutritionists advise aiming for two portions of fish per week, and one of them should be of an oily variety. You can also take omega-3 supplements instead of fish.

Low-fat Yogurt

Most of us now know that yogurt is good for us because it contains so-called ‘friendly bacteria’. These are probiotics, which help keep the digestive system in good health, can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and digestive tract disorders.

Yogurt is also a good source of protein and calcium, both of which are needed for healthy bones. A 150-gram pot contains around 225mg of calcium, which is a good percentage of the recommended 700mg daily intake.

It is certainly not difficult to make yogurt a regular part of your diet. For optimum benefits, go for plain low-fat yogurt, rather than additive-packed flavored varieties – try mixing it with muesli, granola, honey, and fruits.

Also, making the superfoods list are eggs, green tea, turkey, spinach, nuts, lentils, beans, pomegranates, avocado, garlic, red wine, goji berries, cacao, cinnamon, oats, cranberries, bananas, tomatoes, and soy products.

So at least your shopping list is sorted. Happy to help!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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