You've heard the term "superfoods," but do you know what makes them so "super"? The common element of all superfoods is their high concentration of health-promoting antioxidants and nutrients to keep your body tuned and energized. Here are 10 superfoods that can benefit your balanced diet:
The rich blue hue of blueberries is a by-product of flavonoids, compounds that naturally protect your brain's neurons from oxidation, inflammation and other damage. These healing flavonoids also help to preserve memory function.
The humble-looking kale leaf is loaded with superfood properties; it contains organosulphur compounds that defend the body against many cancers. Kale provides the body with a natural source of vitamins A, C and B6 as well as calcium, potassium, manganese and copper. It also supports eye health with lutein, zeaxanthin and carotenoids. If that weren't enough, kale also boosts the metabolism, oxidizes cholesterol, fights off infections and renews skin collagen for a more youthful appearance. It also strengthens bones and can help to reverse osteoporosis.
Just about every kind of nut packs a formidable nutritional punch, with loads of protein, fiber and that unsaturated "good" fat you've probably heard about. However, pistachios are particularly rich in soluble fiber as well as phytosterols, a natural plant compound that helps lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level. They're a low-calorie nut to begin with, but eating shelled pistachios can help slow down your consumption.
4. Bell Peppers
Most people are surprised to hear that red bell peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that clears the body of cancer-causing free radicals while keeping skin and blood vessels healthy and strong. Some studies suggest that vitamin C can slow or prevent arthritis. Bell peppers are also packed with beta-carotene and lycopene, which help prevent cataracts and other eye problems.
Eggs offer one of the highest-quality protein sources you can eat. Egg protein can assist in maintaining bones, muscles, nails and hair. You'll also stay satisfied longer and eat less throughout the day. If you're watching your fat and cholesterol intake, just eat the whites; they're fat-free, just 17 calories and still have 4 g of protein.
6. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes offer vegetarian protein as well as loads of fiber for a full, satisfied feeling longer. They're low in fat and contain magnesium and potassium, two nutrients that together help keep your heart strong, lower your blood pressure and keep blood vessels healthy. Beans and legumes also stabilize mood by regulating blood sugar spikes, and they assist in regulating bowel function.
7. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is an excellent source of riboflavin, an essential B vitamin that helps to jump-start antioxidant benefits, rid the body of free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer as well as heart disease. Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt at about the same number of calories.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant that detoxifies cell-damaging free radicals and reducing your chances for serious disease. Tea has around eight to 10 times the levels of polyphenols that are found in vegetables and fruits.
9. Goji Berries (Pictured above)
Packed with antioxidants and lower in sugar (compared to other sweet-tangy tasting foods), you can snack on them or add them to your trail mix. Some studies have indicated that Goji berries may prevent the growth of cancer cells and lower cholesterol levels.
10. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is very rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, which help to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, boost your mood and improve your heart health. Opt for a minimum of 70% cacao to maximize the health benefits of your chocolate treat.
When it comes to foods that pack the maximum healing benefits per bite, these 10 superfoods should be high on your list.