Superfood seems to be quite a buzz word these days, and often people ask me what defines a "superfood"? In simple terms, a superfood is a food which has a higher nutrient density per bite than another similar food. Consider Kale, for example. It contains way more iron, fiber, beta carotene, and other nutrients per serving size than a whole head of iceberg lettuce. Proper nutrition is essential to many body functions, such as your energy levels, mood, and immune system. It may seem trite but the truth is that if you want to feel the best you possibly can, you need to choose wholesome foods. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you!
While your specific calorie needs and amounts of certain nutrients may change over time depending on your age and degree of physical activity, the foundational nutrients your body needs will remain the same. These 15 superfoods can help meet your nutritional needs throughout your lifetime:
- Eggs- Eggs are sometimes called a “perfect food” because they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. Eggs are packed full of Vitamins A, B5, B12, B2, phosphorus, selenium, folate, and protein. They make a quick, delicious and healthy breakfast, snack, or addition to any meal.
- Salmon- Salmon is an excellent source of vitamins B12 and B6, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and folic acid. These vitamins convert the food you consume into energy and aid in keeping your brain and nervous system functioning properly. Salmon contains high levels of omega 3, which helps with the health of the heart, brain, and joints. I recommend eating only wild-caught salmon, as farmed salmon does not contain the same nutrient density.
- Beans- Beans are an easy way to fuel your body with protein. They have been shown to reduce cholesterol, decrease blood sugar levels, and increase healthy gut bacteria. Black, lima, lentils, white, and kidney beans are all loaded with dietary fiber, B vitamins, and numerous other vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts- Nuts are a great source of amino acids. Walnuts, pecans, and butternuts are high in arginine, which helps with overall brain function, memory, and focus. Nuts are a tasty treat plain or with fruit. They can also be added to stir fries, salads, or soups for an extra crunch.
- Oats- Steel cut or whole oats are high in natural calcium, fiber, and protein. When you eat oats, the calcium from the soil is already predigested by the plant, making it easier for your body to absorb. Even when you’re in a hurry, you can whip up oatmeal for breakfast in the blink of an eye.
- Seeds- Three of the most nutritious seeds are chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds. These seeds are high in omega 3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids. One easy way to incorporate these seeds into your diet is to add them to sauces, seasonings, smoothies, and cereals.
- Avocados- Did you know that avocados are an effective way to add easily absorbed natural oils to your body? Avocados have been shown to help with dry skin and hair, eczema, and psoriasis. They are also packed with potassium, an electrolyte that aids in maintaining a regular heartbeat, helps muscles to contract, and assists nerves to work properly.
- Cruciferous vegetables- Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale are high in sulfur. Sulfur has been shown to help with the health of skin, tendons, and ligaments. Cruciferous vegetables help to fight infections, aid in the overall health of the immune system, and contain powerful anti-cancer nutrients.
- Orange vegetables- Vegetables like carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes are high in carotenes. Carotenes convert to vitamin A in the body. They help the mucous membranes, a specialized tissue that lines the sinuses, mouth, and the digestive system. Carotenes help keep the mucous membranes protected from yeast, funguses, viruses and bacteria. These vegetables offer numerous health benefits and are an appetizing addition to add to any meal.
- Green, leafy vegetables- There are so many wholesome dark green, leafy vegetables. Spinach, arugula, parsley, and cilantro are just a few healthy choices. Dark green vegetables contain copper, which kills parasites and helps with nerve function. There are numerous ways to incorporate these into your diet, whether in the form of a salad, steamed greens, or as a garnishment.
- Garlic- Garlic is one of the most powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal herbs. It boosts the immune system and reduces the severity and length of cold and flu symptoms. Garlic breaks up mucus in the lungs and sinuses and emulsifies it so that the body can move it out more easily. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps blood to flow more freely through your body, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of blood clots.
- Onions- Did you know that onions have potent antibacterial properties? They have been shown to fight many types of bacteria, including E Coli. Onions are high in vitamins B, C and potassium. Onions add a kick of flavor to salads, sandwiches, soups, and various other savory dishes.
- Apples- There is a lot of wisdom in the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. One apple contains fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B2, and B6. Apples are also a delicious way to help lower cholesterol.
- Dark organic chocolate- My clients are often surprised when I recommend dark chocolate as part of their health regimen. Chocolate comes from the herb cacao, which is a great source of magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. In small amounts, dark chocolate is beneficial to your body, and the darker the chocolate the less sugar will be in it.
- Mushrooms- Mushrooms contain high amounts of zinc, which has been shown to help with metabolism and immune system function. Zinc also promotes wound healing, supports proper reproductive function in both men and women, and reduce inflammation. As with many superfoods, the darker the pigment or color of the mushrooms, the more nutrient value they contain-- so swap out white button mushrooms for shitake or wild foraged whenever possible.
I want people to know that healthy foods are not hard to find and are often easier to incorporate into your diet than you may think. They are often cheaper than processed foods, more filling, and the benefits to eating more nutrient-dense foods are endless. With the awareness of these superfoods and what they have to offer, you can now embark on a new journey of eating even more healthily, feeling more vibrant each day.
What is your favorite “super food”? Let us know in the comments below!