What makes a food super?
In the world of nutrition, a superfood is defned as a nutrient-rich food beneficial for health and wellness. Though there is no legal or medical definition, superfoods are typically packed with large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. So which foods make the cut? The list is surprisingly long; however, here are some examples.
1. Fruits and vegetables: Of course, blueberries make the cut onto most top ten superfood lists. Studies show that blueberries contain greater amounts of antioxidants than any other berry; however, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries are not too far behind. There is not one single fruit or vegetable that provides you with the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals for each day. The key is: to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables that aim to provide you with high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, zinc, etc. Aim for a variety of at least five colorful servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
2. Fish: The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week due to its rich source of protein, omega 3’s and low amounts of saturated fat. Fatty fish has been linked to optimal brain and heart health. Fish is also loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D.
3. Complex Carbohydrates: foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber in the diet are also a good source of B vitamins, which provide energy to the body. Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, peas, lentils and yes, even white potatoes are examples of fiber rich complex carbohydrates.
4 4. Avocado, walnuts, sunflower and flaxseeds are all rich in mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids. These healthy fat sources can have a beneficial effect on your heart when eaten in moderation and replaced with saturated and trans fat. Studies have shown these healthy fats can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute to vitamin E in the diet, an antioxidant most Americans need more of.