Here are the 14 super foods you'll want to consider adding to your diet. There's no doubt that diet plays an important role in the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. To help reduce the risk of disease, more people are adding super foods to their diet. Super foods are those foods that have additional health benefits beyond simply providing nutrition.
These foods are high in phytonutrients, which may give them additional disease fighting powers. Although the foods that are worthy of being called super foods may be open to debate, there are certain stars in the nutritional world that play an important role in diet, and may play a part in protecting against chronic disease.
Broccoli is a rich source of vitamin C and fiber, as well as a group of chemicals known as isothiocyanates, thought to potentially prevent certain types of cancer. This simple, green super food is a healthy addition to any diet.
This green super food has a unique chemical known as nasturtin, which is converted into an isothiocyanate known as PEITC. This has been shown in studies to slow down the growth of prostate, breast and colon cancer cells. The components in watercress are also thought to reduce the risk of macular degeneration of the eye. This green super food is best eaten raw, as heat can destroy the PEITC.
Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They're also a rich source of fiber and vitamins, particularly vitamin E and the B vitamins. Although nutritionally dense, they're higher in calories than the other super foods and should be eaten in moderation.
These humble fruits have the distinction of having one of the highest antioxidant capacities of the common fruits. Rich in powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins, blueberries are thought to play a role in protecting nerve cells involved in motor skills, learning and memory as people age.
Although the apple may not be the most exotic fruit on the vine, it does have some noteworthy health benefits. Apples are rich in flavonoids, which have been shown to have antioxidant activity. Apple consumption has been correlated with a reduced risk of stroke as well as diabetes. Plus, apples are also a good source of vitamin C.
Spinach is another green super food lauded for its health benefits. Rich in a variety of flavonoids and high in vitamins K, A and C, this simple food is thought to play a role in the prevention of a host of chronic diseases. It packs a powerful nutritional punch for a vegetable so low in calories.
Yogurt is considered a super food because of its probiotic capabilities. The friendly bacteria found in a container of yogurt help to preserve the health of the intestinal tract, as well as the immune system. Plus, it's a good source of calcium and protein. There's much to love about this underappreciated dairy product.
The only meat to make the list, salmon is known for its high content of omega-3-fatty acids, the same heart friendly fats found in walnuts that help to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It's important to select wild salmon since farm raised salmon may be contaminated with PCBs and dioxanes, both potential cancer causing agents.
Kale is a member of the brassica family of vegetables, which includes fellow super foods, broccoli and watercress. Kale has many of the same benefits as these other green superstars because of its high content of isothiocyanates. It's thought that kale may have cancer preventive properties as well as cardiovascular benefits. It's also a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals, being particularly high in vitamins A, C and E.
Although many people may not think of the tomato as a super food, it is a rich source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that is being studied for its role in preventing prostate cancer. The lycopenes found in tomatoes are best absorbed when the tomato is cooked, so tomato sauce is one of the best ways to get the health benefits that tomatoes have to offer.
Green tea is a healthy source of catechins such as EGCG, which are thought to play a role in preventing a variety of chronic disease including certain types of cancer and heart disease. Numerous studies are ongoing to look at the potential benefits of drinking green tea for health.
High in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed may help protect heart health and reduce inflammation in the body. It's also high in lignans, which studies have shown may prevent or slow down the growth of breast tumors. The beneficial components of flaxseed can only be absorbed when the seeds are ground; whole flaxseeds pass through the body undigested.
Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that's associated with a lower risk of heart disease as well as the ability to lower cholesterol levels. They're also rich in potassium, fiber and folate, although higher in calories than most vegetables.
Last but not least, raspberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, and their sweet taste makes them an excellent alternative to a high calorie dessert.
These super foods are a tasty way to add extra nutritional punch to your diet. Whether you choose a green super food or a cup of yogurt flavored with fresh blueberries, you'll be doing something good for your body.