Super foods, in general, are plant-derived foods that contain very high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Nonetheless, some fish and dairy products also make their way to the list. Nutritionists say super foods could be one of the ways to ward off cancer, maintain heart health and possibly prevent diabetes. This, in no sense, implies that super foods are a replacement for a healthy diet or compensation for a bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices. After all, there is unequivocal evidence that your health relies greatly on a healthy diet comprising the right amounts of a variety of nutrients.
Super foods: What to Eat and What Health Benefits They Offer
Here are the top three super foods with their evidence-based health benefits.
These sweet berries with blue hues are rich in vitamins, (folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K) and have high amounts of dietary fiber. Also, they are loaded with health-promoting antioxidants. The role of fruits and vegetables in maintaining health and preventing diseases is undebatable.
A large number of studies have suggested a strong link between an increased consumption of blueberries and decreased risk of lifestyle disorders. For example, obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. In fact, many health benefits of blueberries come from the antioxidant flavonoids Anthocyanins. Moreover, recent studies suggest blueberries could be a perfect super food to fight cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and wrinkles.
The best ways to eat blueberries
Here are some simple ways you can include blueberries in your meals.
- Use blueberries toppings on oatmeal, waffles, pancakes and yogurt.
- Prepare a smoothie by mixing frozen berries, low-fat milk and yogurt.
- Try some easy-to-prepare blueberry recipes. For example, blueberry almond bread and blueberry chia smoothies.
- Whole Grains And Beans
Whole grains and beans are a great way to add more fiber and proteins in your diet. They are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Note that a typical American diet contains aninsufficient quantity of a mineral manganese. When you prefer whole grains over the processed grains, you can reap many health benefits. For example, lowered blood cholesterol and risk of heart diseases, improved bowel habits and sugar control, and possible weight control. Also, the beans could be a safer and less expensive alternative to meat.
The best way to eat whole grains and beans
- Eat whole grain bread or oatmeal for breakfast.
- Prefer whole grains over processed grains wherever you can.
- Oily Fish
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines may help to prevent heart diseases, prostate cancer, and vision loss due to aging and dementia. They contain healthy amounts of protein, vitamin D, protein, vitamin B, and selenium. Moreover, the oily fish is enriched with a healthy fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Notably, salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies suggest eating oily fish at least once a week may help to prevent heart diseases. The minerals and heart-healthy omega-3-fatty acids in oily fish can lower blood pressure and prevent fat accumulation in the arterial walls. Likewise, omega-3-fatty acids may also help to prevent memory problems in the later years of life.
The best ways to eat oily fish
- Eat it with a toast and a side salad for a nutritious meal or roast with cruciferous vegetables.
The Top Three Foods you Should Avoid
In contrast to super foods, some foods are so bad that you should avoid them. If you cannot, consume them in a very little quantity and less often. Here some foods to avoid if you are aiming for a healthy life.
- Added sugar does more harm than just bad teeth and added pounds. It is a well-established fact that excess sugar makes you fatter. But do you know it also increases the risk of other serious illnesses like diabetes and heart diseases? So, next time you order a smoothie, think again. Also, make sure to read the label on your favorite snacks. Stop drinking sweetened beverages and opt for unsweetened waters, teas, and sparkling beverages instead.
- Potato chips. No doubt, the potato is a rich source of many nutrients. But products like chips or French fries are on the opposite side. The harms of these calorie-dense foods arise from different sources. For example, trans fats, cancer-causing chemicals, and high salt content. Instead, prepare boiled salted potatoes in place of the chips.
- Processed meat. There is no denying that meat is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. In essence, meat is a nutritious food. However, the WHO classifies processed meat at number one in the list of cancer-causing substances (carcinogens). Meaning, daily consumption could put you at a high risk for cancer. Note that other carcinogens like tobacco and alcohol also fall in the same group. What can you do? Eat fresh meat instead of processed.
The Bottom Line
No doubt, super foods are a great way to potentially prevent or manage some common health problems. Yet, they cannot replace a balanced diet. You should consider super foods as a part of a healthy diet, not an entire diet in itself.
Moreover, not each super food is good for everyone. For this reason, try one at a time and observe the benefits. If you feel that the results are good, include them in your diet.
Also, consult your doctor if you:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Have a chronic illness and take prescription medication to treat it. Remember some foods or super foods may interact with the medications you take.
Want to Know More?
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