13 Best Superfoods that will Make You Amazingly Healthier

superfoods

Even if you are not a diehard foodie, you have probably heard a thing or two about superfoods by now. Although the official definition of superfood is still lacking, the buzzword is mostly used to denote dietary ingredients with a high content of essential nutrients, including proteins, essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

These nutrients not just nourish the body but also help prevent a range of diseases. The additional advantage is that they don't contain synthetic fats, food additives, and added sugars.

However, not all superfoods are equally beneficial for health. Certain superfoods are more healthier than others are.

We’ve compiled a list of 13 best superfoods that can amazingly boost your health and wellbeing. Check them out!

1. Acai

Native to Central and South American rainforests, acai berry touts higher antioxidant content than any other berry out there, and to human benefit, no less. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that the consumption of acai pulp and juice can significantly boost antioxidant activity in the blood [1]. Full of anthocyanin and oleic acid, unsweetened fresh or frozen acai has anti-aging and immune boosting properties. It can also promote weight loss and cognitive function and ward off heart disease, gut glitches, and some types of cancer.

2. Barley

A portion of barley a day can keep cholesterol away from your blood system. According to a 2010 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular intake of beta-glucans found in barley can reduce total and LDL cholesterol concentrations [2]. If you are suffering from (or just wish to prevent) hypercholesterolemia, add this grain to your delicious breakfast servings and hack cholesterol control like a super-foodie.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are not just a mouthful of yum: they also pack tons of vitamins, phytochemicals, soluble fiber, and antioxidants which counteract colon cancer, skin aging, heart disease, and late-life memory problems. A 2012 study showed that women who ate three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries stood a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared to the ladies in the control group that berried up the menu once a month or less [3].

4. Cacao

Rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and low on calories, raw and nonalkalized cacao powder can slash the risk of cardiovascular problems, cancer, and heart disease. A 2012 study by the American Heart Association has shown that regular intake of dark cacao can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, and boost blood vessel elasticity and cognitive function in the elderly population with mild cognitive impairment [4].

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are laden with fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, niacin, potassium, thiamine, and Vitamin B2 fiber. Alongside all this micronutrient goodness, chia seeds also have a minimal calorie count, which makes them ideal for weight watchers. In addition to that, studies have shown that regular chia seed consumption can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, thus slicing the risk of diabetes type 2 and heart disease.

6. Garlic

Garlic may not smell like a bed of roses, but it sure packs a hefty portion of Vitamins C and B6, selenium, manganese, and antioxidants. A 2012 review showed that garlic is efficient against colds, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol [5].

7. Goji berries

Native to Central Mongolia and Tiber, goji berries are a traditional Chinese remedy for poor circulation, immune system glitches, and eyesight problems. A 2008 study found that frequent intake of goji berry promotes overall wellbeing, brain activity, and digestion [6]. Apart from this, a well-known 1994 Chinese study also demonstrated that goji polysaccharides combined with immunotherapy could not only prevent, but also regress cancer [7]. Rich in Vitamin A, B2, and C, iron, selenium, and antioxidants, both dried and fresh forms of goji berries can be used with ease.

8. Green tea

Native to China, green tea is a cupful of antioxidants, B vitamin complex, folate, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, and the list of its health benefits includes weight loss, cholesterol reduction, and Alzheimer’s disease and cancer prevention. A 2013 review of 11 studies found that the daily intake of green and black tea could lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [8].

9. Hemp seed

Extremely rich in polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids, protein, Vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc, hemp seeds are good for tummy, skin, nervous system, and cardiovascular health. Hemp seed is rich in the amino acid arginine, and a 2005 study shows that arginine intake impacts nitric oxide production, contributing to blood pressure reduction and a lower risk of heart disease [9].

10. Kale

One of the world’s healthiest dark leafy green foods, kale has been found to diminish the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma, and it has also been linked to improved bone health and blood glucose control in diabetics. Kale is also low in calories and contains micronutrients important for healthy skin and hair, so it definitely deserves a place on everyone’s plate.

11. Maca powder

Grown in the Andes, maca root functions as an adaptogen and can boost endurance, stabilize energy, and enhance the regeneration of damaged cells and tissue. Several studies found that maca powder could boost male fertility and libido and alleviate hormonal swings in menopause, as well as counteract the negative effects of stress.

12. Pomegranate

A go-to for fiber, Vitamins A and E, iron, and antioxidants, pomegranate is an effective remedy for high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammation, and some types of cancer. A 2006 study established that a single glass of pomegranate juice a day could slow down prostate cancer development in men with recurring prostate cancer [10].

13. Quinoa

Quinoa is the native Peruvian seed that has gained a lot of buzz over the past few years. It is gluten-free and full of fiber, iron, B-vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, folate, antioxidants, and vitamin E. Ranking low on the glycemic index, quinoa is one of few plant foods which packs complete protein and all essential amino acids. Moreover, studies have shown that it can be extremely efficient in lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides [11].

So, should you tweak your menu to make room for an extra superfood ration? You by all means should!! And for better outcomes, you should pick your super-servings based on our short list of superfoods which deserve a place on everyone’s plate.

This is a guest post contributed by Samantha Olivier. Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition, and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter, or in a tea shop.

References

  1. Mertens-Talcott SU, Rios J, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, Pacheco-Palencia LA, Meibohm B, Talcott ST, Derendorf H. Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2008 Aug 12;56(17):7796-802.
  2. AbuMweis SS, Jew S, Ames NP. β-glucan from barley and its lipid-lowering capacity: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. European journal of clinical nutrition. 2010 Dec 1;64(12):1472-80.
  3. Cassidy A, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96.
  4. Desideri G, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D, Necozione S, Ghiadoni L, Mastroiacovo D, Raffaele A, Ferri L, Bocale R, Lechiara MC, Marini C. Benefits in Cognitive Function, Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance Through Cocoa Flavanol Consumption in Elderly Subjects With Mild Cognitive Impairment The Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study. Hypertension. 2012 Sep 1;60(3):794-801.
  5. Stabler SN, Tejani AM, Huynh F, Fowkes C. Garlic for the prevention of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients. The Cochrane Library. 2012 Jan 1.
  6. Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (goji) juice, GoChi™. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008 May 1;14(4):403-12.
  7. Cao GW, Yang WG, Du P. [Observation of the effects of LAK/IL-2 therapy combining with Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in the treatment of 75 cancer patients]. Zhonghua zhong liu za zhi [Chinese journal of oncology]. 1994 Nov;16(6):428-31.
  8. Hartley L, Flowers N, Holmes J, Clarke A, Stranges S, Hooper L, Rees K. Green and black tea for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane Library. 2013 Jun 18.
  9. Wells BJ, Mainous AG, Everett CJ. Association between dietary arginine and C-reactive protein. Nutrition. 2005 Feb 28;21(2):125-30.
  10. Pantuck AJ, Leppert JT, Zomorodian N, Aronson W, Hong J, Barnard RJ, Seeram N, Liker H, Wang H, Elashoff R, Heber D. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. 2006 Jul 1;12(13):4018-26.
  11. Vega‐Gálvez A, Miranda M, Vergara J, Uribe E, Puente L, Martínez EA. Nutrition facts and functional potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd.), an ancient Andean grain: a review. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2010 Dec 1;90(15):2541-7.

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