Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals and eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease as well as prolong life. People who eat more of them are generally healthier and thinner than those who don’t. Many foods can fit into the category of superfoods but I will just highlight 5 of them here.
My first and maybe favorite superfood is Kale. Kale belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients that are associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. The fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw. There are several varieties including curly, ornamental, or dinosaur kale and you can eat it raw, cooked, or even dehydrated such as kale chips (instead of potato or corn chips!).
Next is Coconut Oil which is probably my second favorite. I not only consume it but I use it as a moisturizer on my skin! The fat in coconut oil, a form of saturated fat known as MCT, medium chain triglycerides, is among the healthiest fat in the world. It contains fatty acids lauric acid and caprylic acid known to be anti-viral and anti-microbial. Medium-chain-triglycerides are more likely to be burned for energy than stored as fat which is why you may have heard that consuming coconut oil could aid in weight loss. Well I have not tried it for weight loss but I can tell you that coconut oil can raise protective HDL-the good cholesterol. I use it in baking and cooking as well as on my skin.
Chia is the next superfood that I am sure by now you have at least heard of if not tried. Chia seeds are native to South America and have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids with a lipid profile composed of 60 % omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids — which can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, 18% of the daily recommended intake for calcium, 35 % for phosphorus, 24 % for magnesium and about 50 % for manganese. All of these nutrients help prevent hypertension, maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism. Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood. I add 2 tbsps to my shakes, add ground chia seeds in baking such as gluten free banana bread or cookies and you can add some to oatmeal or yogurt as part of your breakfast.
Salmon is next. High in protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, a 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day’s requirement of vitamin D as well as over half of the necessary B12, niacin, and selenium, and is an excellent source of B6 and magnesium. Canned salmon also contains large amounts of calcium because of the bones of the fish included and can be a fun substitute for tuna salad. Omega-3 fats can be effective at reducing inflammation which contributes to heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancers and arthritis. Omega-3’s also helping prevent the blood clots which cause many strokes. Omega-3 fats also have the potential to help slow down Alzheimer’s disease. While canned it convenient, I prefer fresh, wild salmon grilled on a wood plank. My next favorite is lox with some avocado or in sushi.
Garlic is last. As a Greek-Italian American, my husband can attest that garlic is in my blood. In fact, garlic is used for many conditions related to the heart and blood system such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis and other forms of cardiovascular disease. It has been consumed to prevent all kinds of cancer: colon, rectal, stomach, breast, prostate, lung and even bladder cancers. It is also used for building the immune system and preventing and treating bacterial and fungal infections both internally and topically used. Garlic has been used in the treatment of bronchitis, hemorrhoids, fever, coughs, headache, stomach ache, sinus congestion, and even for fighting stress and fatigue, and maintaining healthy liver function. In fact, I am getting ready to do a 5 day liver cleanse where I will be consuming many cloves of garlic each day to boost my immunity and give my liver a good healthy boost. Garlic can be used in so many dishes that I am sure you could get in a clove a day easily if you wanted to!