What makes superfoods so super?

by Megan

Superfoods… what are they really? You hear about acai berries, pomegranate, salmon and the list changes daily. They do not make you lose weight, kill disease or give you super powers like the name implies. These foods along with many others are called ‘superfoods’ because they hold nutrients that help ward off disease and build up immunity. Just like any other avenue taken to help improve your life, healthy eating only works when you have the knowledge and consistency needed to aide in a lifestyle change. It doesn’t work alone or happen overnight. 

Below are a few superfoods I found from a Fitbie article. There are a few you may have heard of before and some that have yet to be hyped up on the marketing and infomercial scene.

  1. Beets have one of the best sources of both folate and betaine, which are two nutrients that work together to lower levels of an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. They also have natural pigments that have proven to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.
  2. Cabbage is loaded with a nutrient called sulforaphane, which is a chemical that increases your body's production of enzymes that disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduce your risk of cancer. It is also low in calories – 1 cup has only 22 calories!
  3. Guava contains lycopene, an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer. Guava has an even higher concentration of lycopene than tomatoes do.
  4. Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, which are plant chemicals known as carotenoids. They protect your retinas from the damage of aging, according to Harvard researchers.
  5. Cinnamon helps control your blood sugar, which influences your risk of heart disease. In a USDA study of people with type-2 diabetes, researchers found those who consumed cinnamon significantly reduced not only their blood sugar but also their triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  6. Purslane is an edible plant that holds the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, according to researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. It was also reported to carry 10 to 20 times more melatonin than any other fruit or vegetable tested.
  7. Pomegranate has become a recent trend in America, making its way from the Middle East where it has been consumed for decades. Israeli scientists conducted a study on men who had drank 2 ounces daily for a year, discovering a decrease in systolic (top number) blood pressure by 21 percent and significantly improved bloodflow in their hearts. What's more, 4 ounces provides 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
  8. Goji berries have been used as a medicinal food in Tibet for over 1,700 years. It is considered to be an antioxidant. According to Tufts University researchers, they have found that the sugars that make goji berries sweet reduce insulin resistance (a risk factor of diabetes) in rats.
  9. Dried plums (or prunes) contain high amounts of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids. These are considered antioxidants that are particularly effective at combating free radicals causing structural damage to your cells, and such damage is thought to be one of the primary causes of cancer.
  10. Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium. French researchers recently determined that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels. On average, men consume 353 mg of the mineral daily, well under the 420 mg minimum recommended by the USDA.

This Fitbie article, The 10 Best Foods You Aren't Eating, also shares recipes and ideas for how to incorporate these foods into your diet. Do you know of any other superfoods not mentioned here? Do you have superfood recipes you’d like to share?  Please feel free to leave your superfood comments or questions for me!

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