Most people know you need a balanced diet to be healthy. A daily routine of fried foods, sugary drinks, and sweet treats will wreck your health over time. While many nutritionists and physicians recommend healthy eating over fad diets, some foods are more beneficial than others. If you’re trying to turn over a new leaf, consider adding “superfoods” to your meal plan.
For the record, the term “superfood” is not derived from medical science. Instead, it was designed by marketers at food companies to help boost sales. But in general, it describes particular foods that are nutrient-rich and provide a wealth of health benefits when consumed regularly. So even though most medical professionals will avoid using the word “superfood,” they’re in agreement that several individual foods fit this category. Here are three such items that qualify as superfoods.
If you’re old enough to remember the “Incredible Edible Egg” commercials, you’ll know eggs are a great source of protein. Once upon a time, eggs were blamed for contributing to heart disease because of their higher cholesterol content (roughly 212 milligrams per large egg). But now we know differently. While they do contain more cholesterol than similarly sized foods, studies show that it’s good cholesterol.
Plus, eggs feature two powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. They are also low in calories, averaging 77 calories per egg. And most importantly, they’re full of nutrients such as iron, phosphorous, selenium, and a myriad of vitamins such as A, B2, B5, and B12. But to get that healthy boost, don’t order an egg white omelet, because the yolk is where the bulk of those nutrients are found.
Of course, if you’re vegan, eggs are a superfood that isn’t compatible with your diet or lifestyle. So, in that case, you’ll appreciate our other two entries, which focus on the fruit and vegetable food groups. There are a variety of berries that qualify as superfoods, and that’s why we’re grouping them together instead of as separate options. If you’re focusing on berries to supercharge your healthful-eating routine, keep an eye out for these options:
- Goji berries
- Acai berries
- Grapes (yes, we know ... but grapes are considered berries!)
Berries are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain a wide array of vitamins. In general, any of the berries listed above offer Vitamins C and K1, manganese, copper, and folate. However, it’s important to note that the vitamin C level can vary widely between these berries. So, if your goal is to beef up your vitamin C intake, do your research before you settle on a particular berry. Strawberries have the highest vitamin C levels of the superfood berries. This heart-healthy food can also help lower inflammation and improve blood sugar and insulin response.
Most people assume that if a food is green it must be healthy. This is somewhat accurate. But some foods are more beneficial than others. Spinach, for example, is a powerhouse in the superfood department. The dark and leafy green can improve the look of your skin and hair while also supporting bone health. Just one cup is only seven calories and contains iron, calcium, folate, vitamin A, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, it’s a great source of protein.
In studies, spinach has been proven to have all sorts of benefits:
- Help diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels
- Prevent cancer
- Prevent asthma
- Lower blood pressure
- Encourage digestive regularity
But if you’re on blood thinners like Warfarin, avoid loading up on spinach as spiking levels of potassium can cause problems with your medication.
While the phrase “superfoods” might not have a hard definition, there’s plenty of evidence to show that certain foods can improve your health or reduce your risk of serious conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure, or even heart disease. If focusing on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats haven’t been your priority but you’re ready to make the switch to a more healthful diet, incorporating superfoods into your daily menu is a smart first step. For a full list of real superfoods, check out this medically reviewed article from Healthline.