You hear a lot about superfoods lately, but what are they? Basically, superfoods are foods that have the ability to reduce your risk of contracting certain diseases because of nutrient content or protecting skills. Some have even been shown to enhance mood. Most of these foods have a very high antioxidant content, which means they protect against cell damage, or aid in cellular repair.
Almost all dark colored fruits and vegetables fit this definition, as do nuts, legumes and fresh herbs, but there are some that go above and beyond the call of duty.
Here’s a short list of superfoods that you should try to incorporate into your family’s diet:
1. Blueberries: high in antioxidants and phytoflavinoids—benefits: lower risk of heart disease and cancer, with the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory
2. Omega 3 rich fish: lowers cholesterol—cold water, wild caught salmon is one of the best sources, but also look at Pacific or Atlantic (depending on where you live) Mackerel, which is the highest in Omega 3. As always, check to be sure your fish is sustainably caught, and not over-fished.
3. Avocado: loaded with fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, monounsaturated fat, and lutein—may lower cholesterol and protect cardiovascular system
4. Broccoli: cruciferous vegetable—may help prevent cancer and stomach ulcers
5. Cocoa: dark chocolate—fights heart disease and cancer. Eat small amounts due to high fat content!
6. Garlic: stimulates the immune system—strong anti-cancer properties
7. Ginger: thought to fight inflammation, cleanse the colon and stimulate circulation—expectant hipmoms, it’s also great for nausea!
8. Kiwi: 1 kiwi has your daily requirement of vitamin C—cellular repair
9. Quinoa: ancient grain very high in fiber, protein and iron. Also contains zinc and vitamin E—lower risk for heart disease and diabetes
10. Sweet potatoes: high vitamin A content—maintain healthy bones, soft tissue and skin
11. Coconut: The new Superfood-contains Lauric acid which helps us deal with bacteria, viruses, and prevent heart issues. Its high in antioxidants and good for the skin and hair.
Aside from the benefits listed above, most of these foods are also high in fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer if you’re trying to lose weight. Incorporating these foods into your family’s diet may simply mean increasing the quantities and frequency that you eat them. Try adding berries to your kids’ cereal in the morning and having a kiwi for a snack in the afternoon. Substitute quinoa for rice with dinner and top your salad with avocado. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you how to incorporate dark chocolate into your diet!
As always, try to buy your superfoods locally and organically grown.
by: Kelly Polston
Contributing Author and Chef