How are These 5 Popular Superfoods Actually Good for You?

5 seeds and nuts that count as superfoods spilled on a while table

At some point, we’ve all heard the term “superfood” before. Superfoods are by no means a new thing, but they have seen a spike in popularity in the past couple of years after being endorsed in medical journals.

But what exactly are superfoods and, more importantly, what do they do for your nutrition?

 

What Are Superfoods?

Superfoods are certain foods, typically plant-based though there are some fish and dairy superfoods, that are nutritionally dense. While superfoods are not necessarily a food group, the term has come to represent any food that is high in nutritional value and shows some indication of having health benefits.

These superfoods are packed with active compounds called mesonutrients, and it is these compounds specifically that gives these superfoods their ‘superpowers’. Many mesonutrients are antioxidants or anti-inflammatories, and each mesonutrient is also thought to have its own set of unique health benefits – which is ultimately why superfoods are hailed so highly. These mesonutrients have been shown to support a healthy heart, aide the regulation of blood sugar in diabetics, improving sleep and reducing anxiety.

 

So, what are the top superfoods we should be making sure to include in our diet?

1. Berries

Berries are very high in nutritional value as they are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Thanks to their high levels of antioxidants, berries have been associated with helping reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other inflammatory conditions.

Digestive and immune-related disorders are also said to be positively affected by a diet rich in berries when coupled with traditional medicinal practices.

The most common berries to include in your diet are;

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries

 

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (DGLVs) are a great source of nutrients like folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, fiber, and vitamin C. These dark greens have the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

These vegetables have high levels of carotenoids (anti-inflammatory compounds) which may help protect against some types of cancer.

Some varieties of DGLV taste bitter, and not everyone enjoys the taste of them when eaten plain, however, a great way to eat your DGLVs is in soups, salads, smoothies, stir-fries, and curries.

The most common dark green leafy vegetables to include in your diet are;

  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Spinach

 

3. Garlic

Garlic is low in calories but high in medicinal properties, as it’s packed with vitamins and minerals such as manganese, vitamin C and selenium. This flavourful ingredient can help combat sicknesses such as a common cold, while garlic supplements help boost your immune system.

Garlic is rich in manganese, vitamins C and B6, selenium and fiber and can have positive effects on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as aiding immune function. It is also possible that the ingredients sulphur-containing compounds can aid in the prevention of some types of cancer.

 

4. Nuts

Nuts and seeds are rich in fibre, vegetarian protein, and heart-healthy fats. They are also high in various plant compounds and antioxidants. This leads to proven anti-inflammatory benefits, protection against oxidative stress and heart disease.

Nuts and seeds are high in calories, but some types are linked to weight loss when part of a balanced diet.

The most common nuts and berries to include in your diet are;

  • Almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts.
  • Peanuts

 

5. Avocado

Avocado is loaded with almost twenty minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients such as magnesium, folate, iron, monounsaturated fat, fiber, potassium and vitamin E to name but a few.

Having Avocado as a part of your balanced diet can lead to reduced inflammation in the body, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some types of cancer. While avocados are very calorific (1 whole avocado contains around 240 calories), these are in monounsaturated fat, which helps to protect your cardiovascular system.

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