Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that are beneficial for your health. Most of these foods are either plant-based; however, certain dairy products and fish are also beneficial. Superfoods are rich in antioxidants, heart-healthy fats, fiber, and phytochemicals. Consuming these superfoods provide your body with the nutrients your body needs to maintain and improve your health and well-being.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants found in superfoods help to delay or halt cellular damage caused by free radicals and toxins in the body. Antioxidants work by removing cellular waste before it can damage the cells. When we eat antioxidant-rich foods, the foods are digested and the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The blood then carries antioxidants, other nutrients, and oxygen to every cell, tissue, and organ in the body. There, the antioxidants attach to free radicals to help prevent cellular damage.
Several vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and selenium. Foods rich in antioxidants include:
Red, blue and purple grapes – Dark colored grapes contain phytochemicals that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The two most powerful antioxidants in grapes are anthocyanin and proanthocyanin. These two phytochemicals boost immunity and decrease systemic inflammation.
Berries – Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries contain key nutrients to help reduce inflammation and cancer-causing agents found in our environment and diet. These berries are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, including ellagic acid.
Dark green vegetables – Dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli are packed with nutrients. These vegetables are loaded with potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, E, and C. Furthermore, the phytochemical, kaempferol, provide cancer-fighting properties and help dilate blood vessel for improved heart health.
Tea – Tea contains anthocyanin and proanthocyanin, which are two powerful phytochemicals that help fight inflammation. In addition to this, tea contains antioxidants called catechins which help prevent cellular damage. These potent antioxidants are found in decaffeinated as well as caffeinated teas.
What is omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats not produced by the body include EPA, ALA, and DHA. DHA, as well as EPA, are typically found in animal products and algae, while ALA is typically found in plants. Omega-3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory protection and protect against a number of diseases, including cancer, ADHD, inflammatory diseases, and depression.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:
Fish – When choosing fish, look for cold-water, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel.
Seeds and nuts – Chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts are superfoods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Algae and seaweed – Various forms of algae, including nori, chlorella, spirulina, and seaweed contain high levels of DHA and EPA. These are wonderful sources of omega-3s for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Additionally, these provide antioxidant protection to help improve your health.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to improve your digestive health, enhance immunity and protects against a number of illnesses and diseases. Probiotics can help to improve heart health, reduce the severity of allergies, improve mental health and aid in weight loss. Probiotics are living organisms, including yeasts and bacteria that are found in fermented foods and supplements. Finally, probiotics inhibit harmful bacteria in the gut and boost IgA producing cells, killer cells and T lymphocytes to enhance immunity naturally and decrease inflammation in the body.
In addition to probiotics supplements, there are a number of superfoods that have beneficial bacteria to promote health. These superfoods include:
Yogurt is made by fermenting milk using bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. To ensure you are maximizing the effectiveness of yogurt, look for a yogurt that states live, active bacteria. Yogurt has been shown to improve heart health as well as bone health.
Sauerkraut is made by fermenting finely shredded cabbage using lactic acid bacteria. Sauerkraut contains probiotics, fiber, vitamins K, B, and C as well as antioxidants for your eye health. When shopping for sauerkraut, ensure it is unpasteurized because the pasteurization process kills the live bacteria in sauerkraut.
Tempeh is a soybean product often used as a high-protein meat substitute. Tempeh’s flavor is often referred to as earthy and nutty like a mushroom. The fermentation process produces probiotics as well as vitamin B12, making it a great choice for vegetarians.
Including superfoods in your diet can improve your health and fend off a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, systemic inflammation, and cancer. Antioxidants remove free radicals from the body, omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, and probiotics help enhance the immune and digestive systems.