What are Superfoods?
Super foods refer foods that are loaded with nutritional value and contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants fight against free radicals that cause damage to cells. In other words, antioxidants help reduce the risk of common health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and even cancer. Antioxidants help boost your immune system as well as “slow” the aging process.
Here’s our list of Top 10 super foods to consider in your diet:
Active ingredient: Lycopene
Health benefits: Reduces risk of heart diseases, prostate cancer and digestive tract cancers; improves bone health
Lycopene is a pigment responsible for the reddish color of the tomatoes, but it has some pretty impressing alternative uses as well. Lycopene is a phytochemical that helps eradicate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Recently, researchers have linked the importance of lycopene to bone health. A study conducted on postmenopausal women showed an increased risk of osteoporosis in women when lycopene-containing foods were removed from their diet.
Active ingredient: Flavonoids including EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)
Health benefits: Reduces risk of certain cancers such as those affecting the bladder, prostate, breast, stomach, and blood. It improves brain function,has anti-aging properties and promotes healthy gums. It alsohelps to reduce the risk of diabetes and depression and inflammation among patients with arthritis.
Green tea is made from the Camellia sinensis herb. Green tea has been an ancient anti-aging secret among people in China and Japan. Now, people around the world are becoming more and more aware of the health benefits this drink has to offer. A study conducted in 2009 by Dr. Kaijun Niu at Tohoku University Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering in Sendai, suggested that men and women, 70 years old and above, who drank 4 or more cups of green tea daily were less likely to exhibit depression symptoms as compared to those who only drank once a day. In another study, it was found that older adults who consumed 2 or more cups daily were half as likely to exhibit cognitive impairment compared to those who drank 3 cups or less each week.
While a rich source of antioxidants, green tea also contains caffeine. Therefore, it should not be consumed in excess although the amount of caffeine is less than in a typical cup of coffee. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends an intake of 2-3 cups of green tea per day.
Active ingredient: Resveratrol, flavonoids, phenols, and tannins
Health benefits: Reduces risk of heart disease and increases the good (HDL) cholesterol level. It improves blood clotting and has anti-aging properties. Amazingly, it promotes a lowered risk of tooth decay and gum diseases. To ound it out, it also reduces the risk of osteoporosis and aids in the prevention of certain cancers
A common misconception is that drinking is “bad for you”. Consuming alcohol in excess is definitely detrimental to all areas of your health. However, drinking responsibly has its benefits. That being said, the National Institute of Healthrecommends that people aged 65 and above should not exceed seven drinks per week (one drink is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine) and no more than 3 drinks in one day. Also, mixing alcohol and medicine together may be dangerous. It would be best to consult your doctor before adding red wine to your diet.
Active ingredient: Flavonol
Health benefits: Improved brain function; lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease
Got a sweet tooth? Indulge in some dark chocolate! It is packed with antioxidants, soluble fiber, and minerals which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
A study conducted on over 400 elderly men suggested that the rate of cardiovascular deaths was significantly reduced by 50% over a period of 15 years when dark chocolate had been consumed regularly.
Foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Active ingredient: Omega-3 fatty acids
Health benefits: The foods have anti-inflammatory properties and help to reduce the risk of arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly found in nuts such as pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are also rich sources of Omega-3. Fish like sardines, salmon, and tuna also have high omega-3 fatty acid content. This is an often overlooked area of the “superfood group”, but is also extremely beneficial! Omega-3 heavy foods also improve brain function, which is why foods such as salmon and tuna are called “brain food.”
Active ingredients: Folate, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
Health benefits: Legumes have anti-inflammatory properties and help to improve blood vessel function, lower bad cholesterol levels as well as improve heart health.
Beans and peas are fully loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. They are saturated fat-free and cholesterol-free. Legumes are also rich in soluble fiber. Good examples of these beans and peas include chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, black beans, and red beans. The National Heart Foundation of Australia recommends that legumes be included in the diet in at least 2 meals each week, but recommend more. If you aren’t a fan of beans as a stand alone dinner, consider recipes that include ideas like hummus or soups.
Active ingredient: Ellagitannin compounds
Health benefits: It will help to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and prostate cancer. It is considered as a cure for menopausal hot flashes, gastric irritation, conjunctivitis, and viral infections (such as influenza).
Another superfood that tops the list is the oh-so-juicy pomegranate. Since it is packed with vitamins and very potent antioxidants, it has been shown to play a role in reducing bad cholesterol levels. It will help to prevent the build-up of cholesterol plaque and thereby reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Also, as a neat trick, here’s a 10-second trick to de-seeding a pomegranate: click here.
Active ingredient: Hydroxychalcone
Health benefits: Cinnamon helps decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower bad cholesterol levels and has anti-inflammatory properties, medicinal properties. It helps to regulate blood sugar by improving sensitivity to insulin. In addition, it enhances brain function especially in the areas of cognitive processing, visual-motor responses and attention.
Daily intake of cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar levels by 20-30%. Additionally, even just smelling the aroma of spelling gives some health benefits by boosting cognitive processing and visual motor responses.
Active ingredient: Anthocyanins
Health benefits: Blueberries improve brain function and reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and urinary tract infections. It will enhance immune system, help form collagen and promotes healthy gums.
Anthocyanins, which is an active ingredient in blueberries, are not only responsible for the blue color of the berries but is actually a subclass of flavonoids, potent antioxidants. In fact, blueberries have been ranked as possessing one of the highest antioxidant properties among all fruits and vegetables. They are also a rich source of dietary fiber. One derives the most nutrients from blueberries when they are eaten raw. Blueberries are a potent source of vitamin C where one serving already meets 25% of your daily required value. Blueberries really are a superfood.
A study conducted at the University of Illinois showed the berries’ have the ability to fight off the free radicals known to cause cancer. The study also suggested blueberries’ ability to hinder the formation of tumor cells.
So the next time you’re shopping for food, try to consider including these superfoods in your grocery list and make them a regular part of your diet.