Many of the foods we see in the market are more than meets the eye. What may seem like a humble fruit or vegetable actually contains a powerhouse of nutrition.
Because of their high nutrient content, we call these “superfoods.” The following thirty foods are all rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, so be sure to add them to your meal plan!
Antioxidants tamp down inflammation and have been shown to prevent several diseases.
Berries have been linked to a decreased risk of certain chronic diseases. (1, 2)
2. Curly Kale
Kale is one of the green leafy vegetables that has recently gained popularity. It’s chock full of nutrients. Curly kale is the most common type of kale.
A cup of raw kale contains almost 700% of your daily Vitamin K needs, and over 200% of your vitamin A needs. It also has plenty of vitamin C and is a great source of manganese.
Each cup of raw kale only contains 33 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. While low in fat, it does contain some omega 3s (3).
Just make sure always to go organic to avoid pesticides when buying leafy greens.
Similar to curly kale, spinach is a superfood high in nutrient density. This dark leafy green is rich in antioxidants such as beta carotene. It’s also a great source of vitamins C and K, as well as iron, folate, and calcium. All of which are important nutrients for women.
Spinach is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health. (4) Studies have also suggested that spinach may help prevent certain types of cancer (5).
Garlic is a beloved member of the allium family, along with onions, leeks, and shallots. It contains vitamins C, B6, as well as selenium.
Recent research suggests that garlic may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and support immune function (6). Garlic also has compounds that contain sulfur, and these may help prevent certain kinds of cancer (7).
Salmon is well-known as a healthy choice. This fatty fish is full of healthy fats, protein, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. Salmon is a great source of omega-3s, which have been shown to reduce inflammation (8).
Studies have suggested that eating salmon regularly may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes (9).
Many consumers worry about mercury in seafood, but salmon generally contains little mercury. You can enjoy this fish 2-3 times per week safely (10).
6. Broccoli and cauliflower
Part of the cruciferous pack, broccoli is another superfood.
These cruciferous veggies are full of vitamins A, C, and E. It is also full of fiber, which has been linked to digestive health, preventing colorectal cancer, and helping to maintain a healthy weight (11, 12).
Broccoli also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to eye health (4).
7. Green tea
Green tea, also known as matcha has been enjoyed in Asia for centuries, and now the rest of the world is catching on to its refreshing taste and health benefits. Green tea is from the same leaf as black tea but undergoes different processing. This processing helps amplify certain antioxidants and polyphenols in the tea.
One of the most powerful antioxidants in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. EGCG has been shown to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer. (13, 14)
Recent studies have also suggested that both EGCG and the caffeine found in green tea work in concert to help lose weight or maintain a healthy weight (15).
Nuts are great nutrient-dense additions to your oatmeal, cereal, or snack mix. They contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber. But they also contain fiber and antioxidants which may help protect our hearts and protect other inflammatory processes (16, 17).
Walnuts, in particular, contain more omega-3s than other nuts, which has been shown to improve heart health and protect against neurodegenerative conditions of the brain (18).
Seaweed is commonly consumed throughout Asia, but its popularity is increasing globally.
This sea vegetable has plenty of nutrients, like fiber, vitamin K, folate, and iodine. Additionally, seaweed contains particular compounds that aren’t found in vegetables grown on land.
They may reduce the risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, diabetes, and obesity (19).
Due to their nutrient-density, beets make the list of superfoods. Beets are a great source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants.
One cup of beets boasts 3.4 grams of fiber, which has been linked to several benefits like heart health, blood sugar control, and healthy weight.
Studies have also demonstrated that beets can lower blood pressure, even in as little as a few hours after eating (20, 21).
Avocado is more than just an Insta-famous darling, cut, and displayed beautifully on toast or salads. It’s also jam-packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, earning it the title “super food “(22).
Avocados are high in certain unsaturated fats, called monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs. Avocados have a lot of oleic acids, a particular MUFA, which have been shown to decrease inflammation (22).
Research has shown that consuming avocados may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain kinds of cancer (23, 24, 25).
This common lunchbox staple is actually a superfood! A medium apple contains only 95 calories and boasts 4 grams of fiber. It also hosts a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as flavonoids.
Apples have been linked with heart health, perhaps due to the fiber and polyphenols in them. They may also reduce the risk of diabetes (26, 27).
The pectin in apples may also help promote good bacteria in the gut, which has been linked to several health benefits (27).
To get the most nutrition out of this common fruit, listen to Mom, and eat the skin!
13. Dark chocolate
Chocoholics, rejoice! A typical dark chocolate bar with 70-85% cacao contains a lot of nutrients. It has iron, fiber, magnesium, and copper (28).
Moreover, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants. It contains a host of polyphenols and flavanols compared to other fruits like blueberries. Dark chocolate may even help lower blood pressure, perhaps due to its antioxidants (29, 30). Enjoy in moderation.
14. Yogurt / Kefir
Plain yogurt and kefir have been enjoyed for centuries. They contain protein, calcium, potassium, and probiotics. Probiotics have been linked to many health benefits, like lower blood pressure, better digestion, and decreased cholesterol (31, 32, 33).
Including yogurt or kefir in your diet regularly may help you feel better. Be mindful of choosing yogurt or kefir with added sugar.
Ginger has been used for centuries in cooking, and for medicinal purposes. It is used in soups, curries, stir-fries, sauces, and it is enjoyed as a tea or candy.
Ginger contains gingerol, a powerful antioxidant. Ginger is known to help with nausea and may help decrease pain and inflammation (34, 35, 36).
Ginger has also been tied to reducing the risk of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer (37, 38).
This breakfast staple is full of nutrients. Eggs contain choline, iron, phosphorus, selenium, as well as A and B vitamins. And eggs are rich in protein.
Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to promote eye health (4).
For a while, people worried about their cholesterol impact having negative effects on the blood cholesterol levels of those who eat them, but studies have shown that moderate egg consumption is not linked with high cholesterol or poor heart health conditions (39).
Mushrooms are used around the world and happen to be very nutritious. In general, mushrooms contain fiber, potassium, and vitamin A, as well as unique antioxidants (40).
These antioxidants play a key role in reducing inflammation and may prevent certain forms of cancer (40, 41,42).
Popular mushrooms are the button mushroom, enoki, portobello, shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms.
Beans are enjoyed in every corner of the world, and with good reason. They are full of nutrients like fiber, protein, B vitamins, and many minerals. As they offer both protein and carbohydrates, beans are a pantry staple around the globe and can make many filling meals.
Studies have shown that eating beans and legumes can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar control (43).
This spice has a unique golden color and has been used in cooking and ancient medicine for centuries. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have shown that the curcumin found in turmeric may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. It may also help reduce the pain that results from inflammation (44, 45). Turmeric supplements are widely available and offer an easy way to enjoy its full nutrition.
20. Sweet potato
This root vegetable has been gaining popularity due to its pleasant taste, versatility, and nutritional benefits. Sweet potatoes are full of potassium, fiber, beta carotene, and vitamin A. They also contain certain antioxidants, called carotenoids, that may help reduce the risk of cancer (46).
Sweet potatoes may also improve blood sugar control in diabetics. One study found that overall blood sugar levels improved when participants consumed 4 grams of sweet potato daily (47).
Oranges are revered for their vitamin content, especially C for good reason. One large orange provides more than your daily required needs of vitamin C, which is known for supporting our immune systems. It’s one vitamin can also help our skin look its best. But oranges also contain a good amount of fiber. One medium orange contains over 3 grams of fiber (48). Oranges also contain antioxidants, like hesperidin, which has been linked to health benefits. It has been linked to lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease, as well as lowering inflammation (49, 50).
Quinoa is classified as a whole grain but is actually a seed. It is a good source of fiber. One cup of cooked quinoa contains over 5 grams of fiber. Most of this fiber is insoluble fiber, which passes through the body largely undigested. Insoluble fiber has been linked to decreased diabetes risk (51).
Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and makes it a great source of plant-based protein (52).
Quinoa may also help with the management of blood sugar levels. One study found that rats fed a high sugar diet that also ate quinoa had lower blood sugar, and lower cholesterol levels (53).
Spirulina is a type of algae that can grow in both salt and freshwater. It is often consumed as a superfood powder and is added to green juice blends, as well as smoothies and protein powders.
One tablespoon of spirulina powder has 4 grams of high-quality protein, as well as B vitamins, copper, and iron. (54)
Spirulina contains phycocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that gives algae its distinctive blue-green hue. Phycocyanin has been shown to tamp down inflammation and fights free radicals (55).
Pomegranates have been enjoyed for centuries. One cup of their fruit, the arils, contains 7 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and are a good source of vitamins and potassium. (56)
Pomegranates are most known for their antioxidant content. In fact, pomegranate juice has been shown to have triple the antioxidant activity of green tea and red wine. (57)
The main antioxidant is called punicalagin. Studies have found that this antioxidant may reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, and in certain kinds of cancer. (58, 59)
This tropical fruit contains mostly fat, as well as protein, and other minerals. Coconuts contain a good amount of manganese, a mineral important for bone health (60).
It is thought that arginine, an amino acid found in coconut, that helps our pancreatic cells function properly, is responsible for the anti-diabetic effects of this tropical fruit observed in mice studies (61).
This slender spring vegetable is full of nutrients. Half the cup of cooked asparagus has almost 2 grams of fiber, vitamin A, C, K, and E, as well as folate, and potassium, all for only 20 calories. (62)
It is also high in antioxidants, particularly quercetin, isorhamnetin, and kaempferol, which have been linked to lowering blood pressure and inflammation (63, 64, 65, 66, 67).
27. Brussels sprouts
These vegetables look like tiny cabbages and are indeed from the same family. But they still offer a wide variety of benefits to your health. Half a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 2 grams of fiber, over 100% of your vitamin K needs for the day, as well as vitamin A, C, folate, and manganese (68).
This vegetable is high in kaempferol, an antioxidant tied to reducing cancer, tamping down inflammation, and has also been linked to heart health (66).
One study found that people who ate 2 cups of Brussels sprouts daily saw a 28% decrease in oxidative stress and damage to their cells (69).
Almonds are another impressive nut on this list of superfoods. A one-ounce serving contains 3.5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium (70).
Many antioxidants are found in the brown layer of skin on the outside of the almonds, so it’s best to eat them with the skin intact, rather than those that have been blanched and had the skin removed (71).
Almonds are a great source of vitamin E. Many studies have linked vitamin E with decreased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain kinds of cancer (72, 73, 74, 75).
29. Chia Seeds
Don’t let their tiny size fool you. This seed is full of fiber, protein, and omega-3s. Additionally, chia seeds contain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus (76).
Studies have shown that chia seeds may reduce blood pressure in those with chronically high blood pressure (77).
30. Goji berries
Goji berries contain not only vitamins A, and C, but also fiber, iron, and protein. A one-ounce serving contains 4 grams of protein, equivalent to half a large egg (78).
Goji berries also contain zeaxanthin, which has been linked to eye health. Additionally, this fruit has been linked to fertility. One rat study demonstrated that goji berries increased sperm count and movement (79).
The Final Word
Many of the superfoods on this list are commonly found in your grocery store and very affordable. By putting them in your cart regularly, you’ll have a colorful plate at every meal, and will reap the many benefits of these nutrient-dense foods.
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