Get Healthy with SuperFoods
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
Foods are not only there to provide you with energy and nutrients, they are also the best cure for all ills.
Eating naturally is great for your health and the right foods can keep diseases away from you. Healthy foods can bolster your immune system, reduce the risks of developing serious diseases later in life, help you lose weight and give you lush hair and smooth skin.
So, instead of loading up on empty calories or wolfing down sugary snacks and chemical broths, eat more healthy foods. When next you are out shopping for your table, head to the right aisles in your local store and fill your cart with these 30 healthy superfoods.
Almond is a tree nut (not a true nut but actually a seed) which can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also used in the preparation of several top dishes of different cultures. The culinary reach of almonds includes pastries, cookies, cakes, sweets and desserts.
Almond can be made into almond milk which is a substitute for milk and almond flour, a substitute for wheat flour for those who want to avoid gluten.
Almond has a high fiber content (in fact, it has the highest among tree nuts). It is also a rich source of vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and all of the essential amino acids.
Even though almond has a high fatty acid content (over 90%), different studies have established that it actually lowers total cholesterol levels (increases the “good” high density lipoproteins and reduces the “bad” low density lipoproteins) and blood lipids.
Because of these effects, almond is good for the heart and it can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Almond oil is likewise rich in omega-9 and essential omega-6 fatty acids. The oil has a soothing effect on the skin and it is commonly used by message therapists.
Apple is a powerhouse of antioxidants even though it contains a lesser amount of vitamin C than most fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants contained in apple are potent enough that different studies have found the fruit to reduce the risk of cancers of the lung, colon and prostate.
The antioxidant effect protects cells from harmful free radicals. This means that tissue damage and chronic inflammation can be prevented by regular consumption of apple. This antioxidant protection is also the reason apple is believed to keep the doctor away.
Apple lowers the risks of certain diseases including cancers and heart disease. It can also slow down the aging process.
Only the young shoots of this vegetable are eaten. Asparagus is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and the B vitamins (except vitamin B12). It is a very good source of iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and potassium. Because it is also low in sodium, it is a perfect food for bringing down high blood pressure.
Asparagus is low in calories and it contains chromium, a trace element that increases insulin sensitivity. The amino acid, asparagine, got its name from asparagus because it is abundantly found in the plant.
In addition to the antioxidant, antihypertensive and antidiabetic benefits of asparagus, it is also a diuretic, a laxative and it can block the “hangover” effects of alcohol.
Avocado is rich in vitamins E, K and the B vitamins. It also has a high fiber content. Avocado is an even richer source of potassium than banana.
A number of studies have identified that avocado can lower blood cholesterol levels. In one study, avocado was able to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) by 22% while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) by 11%.
Avocado is currently being investigated in the treatment of cancer, hypertension and diabetes.
Blueberries are also a rich store of essential micronutrients including vitamins A, C, E K and the B vitamins. It also contains manganese, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
However, besides these micronutrients, blueberries have a good store of useful phytochemicals such as resveratrol and anthocyanins which are being investigated for their abilities to help reduce the risk of inflammation, cancer and stroke.
In addition, preliminary studies have identified that blueberries can help improve memory in adults, reduce blood sugar levels and relieve the symptoms of depression.
Broccoli is packed with vitamin C; it even contains more than most citruses including orange.
Because broccoli is also rich in selenium, it has a strong antioxidant property that has been shown to protect against heart diseases and reduce the risk of cancers.
A compound known as diindolylmethane gives broccoli antibacterial, antiviral and anti-cancer properties as well as immunomodulatory effects. Other compounds found in broccoli that has been shown to reduce cancer risks are indole-3-carbinol and glucoraphinin.
Celery is a common part of weight loss diets. This is because it is regarded as a negative calorie food. This means that it provides such a small amount of calories such that the body expends more energy digesting it than the energy obtained from the food.
Celery is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C.
Cilantro, also known as coriander and Chinese parsley, contains vitamins A and C. It also contains other antioxidant phytochemicals. Although these are found in the seeds and leaves of the plant, the antioxidants are more abundant in the leaves.
Cilantro leaves also contains phytochemicals with antibacterial properties but the seed extract can reduce the levels of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.
Chicory contains iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium and zinc.
In folk medicine, chicory is regarded as a tonic and also used for treating gallstones and eliminating intestinal worms.
The inulin content of chicory makes it useful as a weight loss food. Lastly, chicory has been demonstrated to protect the liver from toxic compounds.
Quite a number of useful drug candidates have been extracted from dandelion green. This food contains essential micronutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K and B vitamins as well as iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Dandelion green is a common traditional remedy for treating liver and bile problems as well as infection and a known remedy for swollen feet.
Fennel, an aromatic spice, is used in cooking for its anise-flavored taste. It is a common flavoring agent in natural toothpaste.
Fennel contains anethole which is believed to be responsible for its medicinal effects.
The medicinal effects of fennel are the reason it is used for treating gastrointestinal disorders including serving as purgative and reducing bloating; it also has the potential to improve glaucoma and reduce blood pressure.
Jicama or yam bean mostly contains water and dietary fiber. Its sweet taste comes from the prebiotic carbohydrate, oligofructose inulin. Jicama is also rich in calcium, phosphorus as well as vitamins A, C and B complex.
Kale is rich in vitamins C, K and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
It contains the same anti-cancer phytochemicals found in broccoli. To preserve these compounds during cooking, kale should be steamed, stir-fried or microwaved instead of boiled.
Kohlrabi also known as German turnip is a form of cabbage which can be eaten raw or cooked.
This cabbage is rich in vitamin C and potassium and it can help reduce blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is a useful for diabetic patients.
Oily fish include trout, salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and herring. These fish are rich in vitamins A and D but more importantly, they are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids provide such a long list of benefits for humans that oily fish should be staple foods in every home. These fatty acids reduce the risks and symptoms of different cardiovascular diseases, cancers, psychiatric and developmental disorders (including ADHD and autism). They also reduce inflammation and slow down cognitive impairment caused by aging process in the body.
Onions contains the same set of essential micronutrients including minerals and vitamins except vitamin B12.
More than these, it also contains useful phytochemicals such as quercetin which are known for their antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory properties as well as their ability to reduce cholesterol.
Parsley is rich in essential minerals and vitamins but it an especially excellent source of vitamin C (3 times the amount found in orange) and iron (2 times the amount found in spinach).
In the mouth, parsley freshens the breath; in the gut, it is a digestive aid; it purifies the blood and it has also been shown to possess anticancer properties.
Peanut, a true nut, is even richer in proteins than other nuts. In fact, most of the natural amino acids are present in peanut. It is also has no sodium and trans fats.
Other essential minerals and vitamins are also present in peanut. For example, the niacin content of peanut is sufficient to significantly increase blood flow and help sustain a healthy brain.
Peanut is also rich in antioxidants including coenzyme Q10 and resveratrol. Therefore, it reduces the risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Pumpkin seed or pepita is a good source of protein, vitamin E, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper and especially iron. It also contains a number of fatty acids especially oleic and linoleic acids.
Because pumpkin seeds are especially an excellent source of L-tryptophan, they are eaten to treat depression as well as anxiety and mood disorders. Consumption of the seeds can also help reduce cholesterol levels and prevent the hardening of arteries.
The seed oil has been proven to help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia and also investigated for their positive effects on the cardiovascular system.
This root vegetable is rich in folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper and ascorbic acid.
It has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Sweet potato has the highest nutritional value amongst vegetables in its class. It is vastly superior to potato and despite the “sweet” in its name, it is actually safe and beneficial for diabetics because its caloric content is locked up mostly in complex carbohydrates.
Sweet potato also contains a good deal of dietary fiber as well as vitamins A, B6 and C.
Sweet potatoes with dark colors are high in beta carotene (vitamin A) and provide a better nutritional profile than light-colored ones.
Tomato contains lycopene, a carotene and one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature.
Lycopene prevents oxidative damage in the body. It can contribute to the protection of the skin from harmful UV rays and it reduces the risks of different cancers. This compound has also been shown to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.
Besides lycopene, tomato contains other carotenes and other antioxidants. It is also a good source of vitamins A and E.
Wheat germ is a concentrated store of essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, folic acid and vitamin E.
White oat is also known as oat meal. The high soluble fiber content has been recommended to help reduce blood cholesterol levels.
This discovery led to the creation of the oat bran (also called rolled oat) diet especially after the FDA stated that it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. White oat’s ability to reduce cholesterol levels has been demonstrated to be due to the beta-glucan in oats.
Beta-glucan is a polysaccharides made out of glucose. This complex carbohydrate is found in the bran of cereal grains and cellulose of plants.
Besides its cholesterol-lowering effects, beta-glucan can modulate the immune system and is useful in the treatment of allergic rhinitis; it also shows promises for preventing infections and shrinking tumors.
Young zucchini which are less than 8 inches longer have more nutritional value than old, fibrous zucchini.
Zucchini is a low calorie vegetable that still manages to pack essential micronutrients such as potassium, manganese, folate and vitamin A.