Nutrient-Rich Superfoods To Add To Your Diet
Plant-foods that remain close to their state in nature, and have little to no processing before being consumed, are considered “whole foods”. Examples of whole foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. A “superfood” is a fairly new marketing term that refers to a whole food with high nutrient density and very few calories.
Superfoods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Benefits to health include:
- reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer
- improving brain function
- helping to fight memory loss
- helping you lose weight
- promoting a healthy complexion, nails, and hair
- increasing energy level
Antioxidants found in food, for example, help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. A free radical is a natural byproduct of chemical processes, such as metabolism. Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many others. They also may have a link to aging, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free-radical damage. Substances that generate free radicals can be found in the food we eat, the medicines we take, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. These substances include fried food, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides, and air pollutants.
The body is under constant attack from oxidative stress. Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA.
What Are Superfoods?
The best health food possesses three of the following four criteria: 1) They must be a good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. 2) Be high in phytonutrients and antioxidant compounds, such as vitamins A and E and beta carotene. 3) They must be readily available. 4) Have the potential to help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
Superfoods are packed with these benefits. Some common Superfoods include Avocado, Black Beans, Oats, and Blueberries.
Avocado – Ounce for ounce, the avocado fruit is among the richest in fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium. Its nutrient richness comes from healthy monounsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol.
Black Beans – antioxidant superstars and one of the greatest natural sources of dietary fiber. Just one cup of black beans provides nearly 50% of your daily value for fiber, 30% of your daily value for protein, and about 20% of your daily value for iron.
Oats – with minimal processing, oats are rich in beta-glucan, a heart-healthy fiber that can help lower cholesterol. They are low in sodium, and a good source of protein and carbohydrates for energy. Oats also promote healthy gut bacteria and increase feelings of fullness.
Blueberries – packed with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C. Not only can blackberries lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, but they are also anti-inflammatory, according to WebMD.
Health Care Questions?
This is by no means a complete list of superfoods (we found a great list here) and it should be noted that Superfoods are not a cure-all food. Including Superfoods into a healthy, balanced diet of equally nutritious foods is the way to go, rather than consuming these “superfoods” on top of a poor diet. If you haven’t done so before, consider these Nutrient-Rich Superfoods To Add To Your Diet so you can reap their numerous health benefits.
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