If you haven’t heard about superfoods, you’ve probably been living under a rock somewhere. Superfoods are on everyone’s minds and lips these days. How could they not be? They are written about in nutrition mags and websites. News reports and advertisements are filled with the miraculous benefits of eating superfoods.
They can slow aging. Speed weight loss. Reduce inflammation. Protect health. Strengthen the immune system. Some of these health claims sound too good to be true, so you doubt they could be true. You may also be confused about what superfoods are and what makes them so “super.” You want a list of superfoods, and you’d like to know the health benefits of each one.
No problem. We’ve got the answers you’ve been seeking. Let’s start with the most obvious basic of questions: what are superfoods?
What Are Superfoods?
Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods, meaning they contain more nutrients per calorie than do other foods. They provide megadoses of essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants.
Superfoods are not heavily processed, meaning you won’t find them in most canned or packaged goods. That’s because food processing destroys the fiber and most of the nutrients in foods. Superfoods, then, are whole foods that include fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
These foods do have the power to improve your life. Studies show the types of foods you eat affects your health and impacts the way you feel.
Benefits of Eating More Superfoods
Superfoods offer many health benefits. Depending upon the particular food, superfoods can:
Stabilize blood sugar levels
Speed weight loss
And much more
Superfoods are uniquely nutritious foods that can help you meet your health and weight loss goals — as long as you don’t sabotage their power by eating an otherwise inSANE diet.
Let us explain…
Can Superfoods be Negative?
Despite their much-touted health benefits, superfoods have a negative side. No, it’s not that they are unhealthy. No doctor or nutrition experts say superfoods are unhealthy or that they will harm you. It’s more like they give people a false sense of security.
Many nutrition experts refuse to use the term “superfoods” for precisely that reason. They see people eat one or two of these nutrient-dense foods while continuing to eat a poor-quality diet. These individuals believe these nutrient-dense foods — these “superfoods” — cancel the effects of the unhealthy foods they eat. They believe these superfoods protect them from chronic disease, and that’s just not true.
Most doctors and nutrition experts applaud the use of superfoods when used in combination with a balanced diet that emphasizes whole foods, contains a variety of necessary nutrients, and limits refined sugars. In the context of an overall SANE diet, superfoods give your health an extra boost.
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12 Superfoods You Need to Add to Your Diet
As long as you eat a SANE diet of non-starchy veggies, nutrient-dense proteins, whole-food fats, and low-fructose fruits, these 12 superfoods will help you meet your health and weight loss goals.
1. Acai Berry
This reddish-purple berry has gotten a lot of press lately as a miracle fruit. The acai berry, grown in Central and South America, has been found to be a rich source of antioxidants. In fact, the Natural Standards Research Collaboration, an impartial scientific organization, tested acai berry in 2006 and found it had the highest level of antioxidants of any food they had tested to date. (Antioxidants destroy disease-causing free radicals). This inch-long berry is packed with fiber, healthy fats, protein, and loads of vitamins and minerals. Some of the vitamins and minerals it contains include vitamins A, E, and C; and minerals potassium, iron, calcium.
Research indicates the acai berry may protect against heart disease, aid in weight loss, stabilized blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and much more. Studies also show acai berry can reduce inflammation, easing the pain of osteoarthritis.
The avocado, thought to have originated in South Central Mexico, has become a much-cherished American fruit. It not only goes great with a variety of meals, but it is also one of the most nutritious superfoods you can eat.
Avocado is unique among fruits. While most fruits contain a high amount of carbohydrates, avocado contains a high amount of healthy monounsaturated fats. Studies show avocado consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease, an effect researchers attribute to its monounsaturated-fat content. An avocado also contains fiber and 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and B6, folate, and potassium.
Studies show avocado can aid weight loss, help regulate blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
3. Chia Seeds
These tiny seeds originated in Mexico where they were valued for their medicinal and nutritional properties. Chia seeds have only recently made the superfoods list in America, however, as more people began reading about their many health benefits.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3s, essential fatty acids the body cannot produce by itself; they must be obtained through the diet. Studies show omega-3s reduce inflammation, protect heart health, improve cognitive function, and more.
Research shows chia seeds may help lower blood pressure, reduce signs of aging, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
You may not think about it as you’re sipping a cup of hot cocoa, but chocolate can be a healthy food. Cacao beans are seeds of the Theobroma Cacao tree, grown in Mexico and South America. The beans are picked, cleaned, roasted, and then processed into the type of chocolate product required.
Cacao beans contain high amounts of polyphenolic flavonoids, types of antioxidants that offer many health benefits. (Antioxidants attack and kill free radicals that would normally cause disease, so increasing your intake of cocoa can help prevent disease.) Research shows cocoa may decrease blood pressure, improve blood vessel health, lower cholesterol levels, and provide other health benefits. Researchers attribute these health benefits to their high levels of flavonoids.
There is only one problem. Flavonoids have a bitter taste, so most commercial cocoa powders do not contain them. (The flavonoids are removed in the manufacturing process.) To ensure you receive all the health benefits of cocoa, purchase raw cocoa, which is minimally processed.
Coconut is another food that many people are just starting to recognize is one of the most important superfoods. The fact that it’s loaded with nutrients is an understatement.
You see, a medium-sized coconut provides almost all the daily-required essential vitamins and minerals for an average-sized person. Some of the nutrients it contains include vitamins A, E, B-complex; minerals iron copper, manganese, zinc, potassium, magnesium. Coconut also has strong antioxidant and health-protective properties.
Coconut has been shown to fight infections, lower cholesterol, regulate hormones, improve cognition, stabilize blood glucose levels, reverse signs of aging, and much more.
6. Flax Seeds
Don’t let these tiny seeds fool you into thinking their health effects are similarly small. Flax seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B1 and B6. They are also high in fiber and contain a respectable level of protein.
But their real claim-to-fame is that they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, flax seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid mostly found in plants. Studies show ALA consumption reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces inflammation, and lowers the risk of stroke.
Studies also indicate flax seeds may lower cancer risk and lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To obtain these health benefits, make sure you purchase ground flax seeds because they are easier to digest than whole flax seeds.
7. Goji Berries
A member of the nightshade family, the goji berry has its roots in ancient China, where it was used as a medicinal plant. It is another one of those superfoods that many people are just now starting to discover.
Goji berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Some of the nutrients goji berries contain include vitamins C and A; minerals zinc and iron. These berries also contain all 8 essential amino acids, which your body cannot produce on its own.
Studies show goji berries may strengthen the immune system, regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure.
A member of the cabbage family, kale is one of the superfoods that should be at the top of everyone’s list.
Kale is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K, C; minerals calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, iron. Plus, true to its superfoods status, all these nutrients are packed into a very low number of calories. (1 cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories.) Kale also contains a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), known to reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels.
Increasing your intake of kale may help prevent type 2 diabetes, various types of cancer, and heart disease.
If you’re surprised liver made it onto a list of superfoods, you’re probably not alone. Many people get squeamish over the thought of eating liver. Not only does raw liver look gross, but it is also responsible for toxin removal. Who’d want to eat something like that?!!!
Well…the liver is responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood. It does not store toxins. But it DOES store many essential nutrients, which is probably why liver is actually the healthiest, most nutritious food you can eat. A small serving of liver provides well over the recommended daily intake (RDI) of many important nutrients. It is an excellent source of protein, iron, heart-healthy CoQ10, vitamin A, and many essential minerals.
Studies show liver may support metabolism, improve vision, strengthen immunity, and much more. To receive the highest amount of nutrients, choose grass-fed beef/pork liver or free-range chicken liver.
Salmon is one of those superfoods you must include in your diet — 3 times a week, if possible. Salmon contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation, supports the immune system, protects the heart, and much more.
Salmon is also a rich source of antioxidants and contains many essential minerals, including selenium, iodine, choline, biotin, potassium. Its nutrient profile also includes vitamins D and B12.
To make sure you receive all the health benefits of salmon, choose wild-caught varieties as much as possible.
Seaweed is one of those unsung superfoods that deserves recognition. A member of the algae family, seaweed is a rich source of essential nutrients.
Seaweed contains almost every nutrient the body needs, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, iodine, and iron. It is chock full of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Seaweed also contains omega-3s and all the amino acids the body needs.
This superfood may help prevent obesity, fight cancer, prevent diabetes, and protect the heart.
Spinach is another food you need to add to your superfoods list. It has antioxidant properties and is extremely high in nutrients but low in calories.
There are approximately 8 calories in 1 cup of chopped spinach. But that 1 cup contains nearly half of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, necessary for vision and eye health; 28% of the RDI for vitamin C, needed to strengthen the immune system; and 17.9% manganese, essential for nutrient absorption. Spinach also contains iron, copper, potassium, niacin, zinc, and many more.
Studies show the nutrients in spinach may boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
The SANE Diet and Superfoods
If you incorporate these 12 superfoods with a SANE diet, you will discover the miraculous abilities they have to help transform your weight, your health, and your life. Here are some superfoods for each of the 4 SANE food groups:
Greens (mustard, collard, etc.)
Next Step: Get your Superfoods with SANE
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