The type of foods we eat matters, yes it is good to eat your fruits and vegetables, but did you know some carry more significant nutritional benefits than others? Plus, most superfoods are rich in antioxidants, which aid in fighting off disease and boosting our immune systems.
And, we are all aware that as we age, maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good joint and heart health. One of the best ways to impact this our weight is by eating the right foods.
So what makes a food super? Foods lucky enough to be included in this category need to be nutritionally dense. Many contain healthy fats that aid in maintaining ideal cholesterol levels, ultimately improving our heart health.
Other superfoods are high in fiber, which can help to support good gut health and aid in weight management.
Though it is important to eat healthy at any age, there are times when diet may play a more essential role in our lives. Unfortunately, as we get older, our bodies start to show the wear and tear of its years. Thankfully, through healthy eating, we can decrease the chance of some diseases and ailments.
Though superfoods aren’t an official category recognized by the FDA, it is a standard acceptable dietary term that has been around since WWI.
Though the title “superfood” was initially used as a marketing strategy, it has transformed into a popular way to identify exceptionally nutrient-rich foods. Though it isn’t an official term, many superfoods have been put to the scientific test and have passed with flying colors.
Below, we have chosen only ten of the top superfoods. The foods were evaluated and picked based on food type, health benefits, uses, and availability. We did our best to avoid overly unique options to ensure our readers were able to find these foods at their local markets.
Top Ten Super Foods
- Dark Chocolate
- Sweet Potatoes
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Green Tea
- Whole Grains
- Greek Yogurt
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to aid in:
- Lowering triglyceride levels
- Promoting joint mobility for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Increasing the effectiveness of anti-inflammatories
- Decreasing depression
- Good Heart Health
- Improving memory
- Protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia
Additionally, salmon has an abundance of vitamin D, which helps to maintain good bone health.
Salmon can be prepared in a variety of ways such as:
- Bagels and Lox
- Added to Salads
An advantage of cooking with salmon is that it is already rich in healthy fats and doesn’t require additional fats to be added to the cooking process.
Not only delicious but also quite nutritious, dark chocolate is packed with soluble fiber and essential minerals, like:
Plus, it is an absolute antioxidant powerhouse; in fact, dark chocolate has higher levels of antioxidants than most fruits. Antioxidants are responsible for decreasing or preventing damage to our cells from unstable molecules in our bodies.
Additionally, antioxidants help boost our natural immune system, and who doesn’t need that?
Dark chocolate can also help reduce high blood pressure levels and improve blood flow. Additionally, it can help improve cholesterol levels, which positively impacts heart health.
Finally, dark chocolate is believed to improve brain function by increasing your blood flow. With all of these health benefits, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a piece of dark chocolate?
This magnificent food is not only a versatile culinary delight, but it is also loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Some of the vitamins and minerals found in sweet potatoes are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic acid
Sweet potatoes also contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. Fiber is an essential part of our diet since it helps in ensuring good digestive health, plus it helps to:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Aid in lowering harmful cholesterol levels
- Regulate blood sugar
- Lower the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, and diabetes
Additionally, sweet potatoes can help improve brain function and boost our immune system.
As mentioned above, sweet potatoes are a versatile food, making them easy to add to our diets. They can be enjoyed for breakfast in hash or made into sweet potato toast.
They can also be eaten as a side, like baked fries, mashed, or as chips. Plus, because they are so sweet, they make the perfect after-dinner treat.
Blueberries, whether frozen or fresh, are a healthy fruit that is also low in sugar. They can help to:
- Improve heart health – Blueberries are high in potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folate, all of which help control cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Aid in managing diabetes – Due to their high level of fiber, blueberries can help maintain proper blood sugar levels. Additionally, studies now show that blueberries can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Improve bone strength – Though small, blueberries are packed with vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin K, all of which help build and maintain healthy bones.
- Prevent cancer – Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which are known to decrease the risk of certain cancers.
- Promote good mental health – Research has found that blueberries aid in slowing the process of cognitive dysfunction.
Blueberries are delicious when eaten on their own, added to oatmeal or salad, and as a parfait topping.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark Leafy Greens includes vegetables such as:
- Collard Greens
- Beet Greens
- Swiss Chard
Much like the other superfoods, dark leafy greens are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fibers. Increasing your leafy greens intake can help with weight loss, heart health, and mental function.
Because not all leafy greens share the same amounts of each vitamin and mineral, it is essential to include a variety of these greens in your regular diet.
For example, collard greens are exceptionally good for bone health, and microgreens are particularly high in vitamins E, C, and K.
So whether you enjoy your greens in a salad, as a sauteed side, or added to a smoothy, be sure to include a tasty variety.
Green tea has been around for centuries, but its popularity didn’t increase until the last few decades. Green tea has numerous health benefits, like:
- Weight loss by boosting one’s metabolism
- Improving brain function because of the bioactive compounds, green tea can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
- Boosting your immune system, due to the large number of antioxidants present
- Cancer prevention, again because of the antioxidants, green tea is known to lower the risks of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
- Improving dental health the catechins in green tea kills bacteria linked to the formation of plaque and cavities.
Healthy whole grains include:
- Wild rice
- Brown rice
Whole grains can help improve our health by aiding in weight maintenance, reducing bad cholesterol, and improving digestive health. Whole grains are loaded with soluble and insoluble fibers, but they also contain much more than that.
Most whole grains have an abundance of minerals like copper, magnesium, and zinc. Plus, they can increase your protein intake.
This is especially important, as not all of your protein intake protein should come from animals. Plant-based proteins are lower in fat and calories than most varieties of meat.
Also, whole grains have been proven to reduce the risk of a stroke. They reduce the risk of stroke because they contain fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin K.
Shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, mussels, clams, and crabs have all been associated with improving one’s health. Shellfish are high in protein but lower in fat and calories than some types of meat.
Additionally, shellfish are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which we know helps brain function, heart health, and even joint health. Shellfish also contain a fair amount of zinc, iron, and magnesium all essential minerals for maintaining good health.
There are a couple of downsides to shellfish, like:
- Heavy metal accumulation
- Food allergies
- Certain foodborne illnesses
However, even with these downsides eating shellfish in a controlled amount will still positively impact one’s overall health.
There is a multitude of apple varieties available. They can be sweet, soft, tart, crisp, or any combination above. Apples are also very versatile and can be easily added to salads, eaten as a snack, or created into a healthy dessert.
Apples have a moderate amount of sugar, so eating too many can negatively impact one’s weight or blood sugar. But an apple a day really could help keep the doctor away.
Apples are full of fiber aiding in cholesterol levels, digestive health, and weight maintenance. Also, they are full of vitamins and minerals that help to boost our immune systems and improve our bone health.
Plus, apples help prevent cancer and diabetes, while also protecting our stomach from damage caused by anti-inflammatories.
Greek yogurt is different than traditional American yogurt. It has less sugar, salt, carbs, and more protein. However, that is not to say manufacturers haven’t boosted some of these things to make the yogurt more palatable, so be sure to check the labels before buying.
One of the most significant benefits of Greek yogurt is that it is packed with probiotics, which helps to improve your digestive system. Probiotics add healthy bacteria to your gut.
Another considerable benefit of Greek yogurt is that it is full of protein. Protein is vital for building and maintaining healthy muscles, bones, cartilage, blood, skin, and hair.
The best Greek yogurt to buy is a plain low-fat variety. One of the culinary benefits of Greek yogurt is that is can easily be used in:
- In place of mayonnaise
- Enjoyed with berries
- Eaten plain