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 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, 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. Rich in several compounds that help to prevent and battle cancer, research has shown that eating broccoli lowers the risk of tumors in many parts of the body.
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 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 cancer, 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, 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.
Finally, olive oil can reduce belly fat (hurray!), but go easy with it as one tablespoon contains around 120 calories!!
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.
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.
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 (perhaps blueberries, to double up your superfood intake).
Also, making the superfoods list are eggs, green tea, turkey, spinach, nuts, lentils, beans, pomegranates, avocado, garlic, red wine, goji berries, cacao (yes, that’s right – chocolate), cinnamon, oats, cranberries, bananas, tomatoes, and soy products.
So at least your shopping list is sorted. Happy to help!