Most people are aware that eating more fruit and vegetables can be the key to improving health. However, there are some foods that are so packed with beneficial nutrients, vitamins and minerals that they can be considered ‘super foods’.
Of course, some foods in the list were chosen for their high levels of antioxidants or their anti-inflammatory properties. There are even some included that contain essential fatty acids that your body needs to function optimally.
Here is a list of the top 10 super foods you should add to your diet.
Apples could be considered the perfect snack food. They contain no cholesterol and they contain very few calories, but they’re also a great source of antioxidants. Apples are also really high in dietary fiber, with one apple containing approximately 30% of your recommended minimum daily intake.
Avocados are incredibly good for you, but they taste great in dips or in salads or spread onto bread as a butter substitute. Avocados are low in calories and contain high levels of dietary fiber. They’re also a rich source of folate, potassium, vitamin E and magnesium.
3. Beans and Peas
Beans are an excellent low-fat source of protein, which makes them the perfect alternative to meat. Both peas and beans are packed with B-group vitamins, iron, copper, folate, magnesium, potassium and phytonutrients. Beans are also a good source of lignans, which are known to help with preventing osteoporosis and helping to reduce cholesterol levels.
4. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
All cruciferous vegetables make the list of super foods for being rich in vitamin B and vitamin C. They also contain healthy amounts of carotenoids, phosphorus, potassium and calcium. All of the cruciferous vegetables contain high levels of dietary fiber and are a great source of antioxidants.
Broccoli also contains chromium, which is the mineral responsible for protecting the body against obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Research conducted at the John Hopkins University shows that a compound in broccoli can actually prevent tumors from developing by as much as 60%.
The same research also showed that broccoli’s anticancer properties are also capable of reducing tumors that have already developed by as much as 75%.
Chilies contain capsaicin, which is known to be a very effective topical analgesic agent for managing arthritic pain. Chilies and hot peppers also contain high levels of vitamin C, B-group vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and carotene.
Research conducted at the University of California (UCLA) Center for Human Nutrition indicates that eating chilies and hot peppers causes the body to produce heat, which speeds up the metabolism.
6. Cucumber and Zucchini
The cucumber is a member of the cucurbita family, so it’s closely related to pumpkin, squash and zucchini). Cucumbers are low in calories but they contain high levels of sulfur and silicon, which are both known to stimulate the kidneys and flush excess uric acid out of your body.
They’re also very rich sources of antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium, tryptophan, thiamin and zinc. Zucchinis offer almost the same health benefits as cucumbers, but they’re also very rich in vitamins A, C and B6. They also contain high levels of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Whole eggs are a true super food in their own right, so don’t waste time trying to whip up an egg-white omelet and throw away the yolk, as it’s the healthiest part of an egg.
All of the vitamins A, D and E are found within the yolk. As eggs are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, so it’s worth keeping it around. Besides, whole eggs are a great source of high quality protein, choline, omega 3 fatty acids, B-group vitamins, folate, zinc and iron.
The American Heart Association also released studies indicating that participants who ate up to 2 boiled eggs per day did not experience an increase in cholesterol levels. It’s only when you fry them in oil or butter that eggs get the blame for being fattening.
8. Garlic and Onions
Far too many people avoid garlic and onions for fear of bad-breath. Yet garlic has incredible anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that can help to strengthen your body’s immune system. Garlic is packed full of protein, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, vitamins A, B, B2 and C, calcium and zinc.
However, it’s the amino acid known as allicin, which is found in garlic that has been proven to lower blood pressure, help to regulate insulin levels and triglyceride levels.
Onions have very similar properties to garlic, but they’re also known to contain some very powerful antioxidants. They also have great anti-inflammatory properties, anti-cancer properties, as well as being antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-allergenic.
Spinach is easily the most underestimated of all the super foods. In fact, it’s so good for you that it could be considered a vitamin pill all on its own. Spinach is jammed with high levels of dietary fiber, antioxidants, folate, vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E, K, co-enzyme Q10, chlorophyll, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, potassium and protein.
Spinach also contains more than a dozen beneficial phytonutrients, many of which are known to combat cancer. Spinach is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also ideal for significantly reducing the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Research also indicates that spinach may be able to help prevent or delay cognitive decline.
Tomatoes are a true super food. They’re packed with nutritional value and they taste great. Tomatoes are loaded with very high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, carotene, anthocyanin and plenty of other antioxidants. Tomatoes taste great raw or in salads. Fortunately, they don’t lose any of their nutritional goodness when you process them or cook them.
Spaghetti sauce, taco sauce, ketchup, pizza sauce and even the sauce in baked beans will also deliver the massive health benefits of eating tomatoes.