As culinary science dives deeper into the health benefits of certain foods, a clearer picture of what we are consuming is being revealed.
Today’s doctors suggest a healthy, raw, vegetable based diet in order to help reset the body and perhaps even reverse some of the damage caused by poor food choices.
The term “super food” appears almost everywhere we look now, but what does it really mean?
There is no official scientific definition of a super food, but it is generally accepted that super foods contain high levels of much-needed vitamins and minerals. The most common example being that they can be a high source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. While there are a number of foods that provide some of these vital nutrients, there are certain foods that are packed with nutrition and health benefits that earn them their “super” label.
Below you can find 9 super foods that you should consider adding to your next shopping list:
Açai: Native to the rainforests of South America, the açai is a small purple berry that has been touted as a weight-loss and anti-aging aid. The fruit contains very high levels of antioxidants in the form of anthocyanins, which help fight cancer and heart disease. “It’s also one of the few fruits with oleic acid—the same heart-healthy fat in olive oil, Because fresh açai is often unavailable, it’s typically sold frozen or in tablets, powders, or juices.
Cacao/Cocoa Powder: Like chocolate, cacao powder contains flavonoids, which are known to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. With fewer than 15 calories per tablespoon and containing almost no fat, cacao provides a strong chocolate flavor without the guilt. “For someone who has a chocolate tooth and is looking for heart or circulation benefits, it’s a good call,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian.
Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds contain virtually no trace of the psychoactive ingredient in their controversial cousin. The seeds are high in protein and contain all the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair. Hemp seeds also have a desirable ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of amino acids, magnesium, and potassium.
Chia Seeds: Native to Mexico, these nutrient-rich seeds, known for sprouting green “fur” on kitschy pottery pets, have become all the rage among super food seekers. And it’s no surprise—chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium. “If you’re not someone who eats a lot of fish, they’re a great way to get plant-based omega-3s in your diet, they have an awesome taste, crunch, and nutty flavor. I keep them in a glass shaker in the refrigerator at eye level so I can easily find them and shake them on my oatmeal, smoothies or salads.
Tomatoes: They contain lycopene, an antioxidant rarely found in other foods. Studies suggest that it could protect the skin against harmful UV rays, prevent certain cancers, and lower cholesterol. Plus, tomatoes contain a high amount of potassium, fiber and vitamin C.
Blueberries: These berries are full of phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals (agents that cause aging and cell damage). The antioxidants in these berries may also protect against cancer and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Kale: Move over spinach, you’ve got some fierce competition. Kale contains a type of phytonutrient that appears to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian. Though scientists are still studying why this happens, they believe the phytonutrients in kale trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances.
Black beans: A cup of black beans packs 15 grams of protein, with none of the artery-clogging saturated fat found in meat. Plus, they’re full of heart-healthy fiber, antioxidants, and energy-boosting iron.
Oats: Full of fiber, oats are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. They contain a special type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Magnesium works to regulate blood-sugar levels, and research suggests that eating whole-grain oats may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In order to maximize the nutritional benefits of these wonderful ingredients, consume them raw in a salad or shake.
Pay attention to what you consume because as the old saying goes, you are what you eat!