The key is to eat nutritious food rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants are the crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle. Science believes nutrient-dense food will not only make you feel great but can reduce the risk of nutritional diseases.
You must have come across the term "superfoods" to describe foods. They are supposed to make you feel great and offer healthier life, but what exactly are superfoods? What makes them super?
Let's look at them on what they are and how we can incorporate them into our everyday diet.
What is Superfood?
Well, there is no exact definition of "superfood". However, superfoods are rich in nutrients that provide large quantities of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and iron. Most superfoods are usually plant-based, but some fish also make it to the list.
Benefits of Superfoods
The high vitamin and mineral content can help you in keeping your body fit and healthy. When these superfoods are incorporated into a balanced diet, these foods can promote weight loss, improve energy levels, and can reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Superfoods are known to protect your organs from toxins, increase metabolism, and help lower cholesterol.
The key is to eat a balanced diet full of nutrients.
It is important to note that although superfoods are good for your health and provide many nutrients, eating superfoods alone will not contribute to a nutritious diet. Eating one type of good can prevent you from getting all the nutrients.
Hence, superfoods should be added to a balanced diet, not replace.
A balanced diet must include vegetables, fruits, protein, refined sugar, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
Here are some of the most popular superfoods and the benefits they provide. When you add superfoods to your diet, be aware that natural food will give you the highest benefits.
Let us understand which are the superfoods that have high nutritional value -
Eggs - White Eggs are high in protein and have unique antioxidants. They are rich in a myriad of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B, iron, choline, and phosphorus.
Scientifically, eggs contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, that can protect eye vision. According to research, eating 6-12 eggs in a week can decrease heart diseases.
Nuts and Seeds - Nuts are high in fibre and promote heart-healthy fats. They come with anti-inflammatory properties that protect the consumer against oxidative stress.
The research indicates that eating seeds and nuts can decrease the chances of heart disease. Common seeds and nuts are Almonds, Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, and many more.
Ironically, they are calorically dense, but some are related to weight loss if consumed in a balanced diet.
Leafy Vegetables - Leafy vegetables are full of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and fibre. Consuming them decreases the risk of diabetes.
Some well known leafy vegetables are Spinach, Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, and many more.
Green Tea - Being originated from China, Green Tea has a lot of medicinal properties. It helps in protecting against diabetes and cancer.
The research also suggests that green tea can also help in weight loss.
Garlic - Garlic is closely related to the onion and is plant food. It is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin B6.
With its distinctive flavour, it has also been used for medicinal properties.
Apart from reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, it improves the immune system.
Turmeric - Being used as a wound healer and digestive aid, it can also be an anti-inflammatory.
The studies show that it is adequate to cure diseases like cancer and diabetes.
The only drawback of using it medicinally is that the body does not easily absorb it. Its absorption can be made better if used with black pepper.
Mushroom - In Traditional Chinese, mushrooms have been considered medicine to cleanse the body.
The researchers have examined the antioxidant properties of mushrooms and how it is best for breast cancer.
And surprisingly, eating more mushrooms is healthier than eating vegetables.
Another feature of mushrooms is that they are grown using agricultural waste products. This makes them healthy food.
Avocado - Although avocado is a highly nutritious fruit, it is often treated as a vegetable. It is rich in nutrients such as vitamins, fibre, and minerals.
Consuming avocado can reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.
Salmon - Healthy Fats, Protein, Potassium, and Vitamin B, are all synonyms of Salmon. Salmon is a nutritious fish that has the best sources of omega-3.
Including Salmon in your diet can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The only drawback of consuming seafood is the environmental pollutants. But, if consumed twice or thrice in a week, it can give you good nutrients.
Ginger - Being used for medicinal effects and culinary flavour, Ginger stems from a flowering plant.
There are many health benefits associated with this food, such as reducing chronic illness and cancer risk.
Olive Oil - Being a natural oil extracted from the olive fruit, Olive Oil is the mainstream of the Mediterranean diet.
According to a study, the oil has a high level of fatty acids. Using olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Sweet Potato - Sweet Potato has many nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, and potassium. They are a good source of carotenoids that reduce the risk of cancer.
Despite being sweet, they do not increase blood sugar. And interestingly, they can control diabetes.
Berries - Berries are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre. They are associated with reducing heart disease and cancer.
Apart from medicinal benefits, they help in curing digestive disorders.
The most common berries are strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries.
How can we incorporate Superfoods into our diet?
Now, we have a better understanding that superfoods are full of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants.
But, the genuine concern is how do we put it in our diet?
Well, surprisingly, the answer is straightforward. You can easily incorporate these foods into a healthy diet when available. However, do not overspend on them.
The only secret is that leafy green vegetables and berries will be the same all over. Buy seasonal fruit to ensure maximum nutrient content.
Here are some quick tips that you can follow into your diet -
- Always check the colours on your plate. Is it all beige or brown? Then, it is indicating that antioxidants levels are low. Add rich colours like berries and beets.
- Try replacing beef with Salmon or tofu.
- Have green tea daily.
- Add shredded greens to your soup.
- Add berries to oatmeal, cereals, and salads.
It is crucial to achieve good health by taking proper nutrition. The key is to consume a variety of nutrients every day.
Including the above mentioned "Superfoods" can prevent chronic diseases.
Authored by: Smriti
About the Author: Smriti is an expert dietitian and nutritionist. She is a post graduate in Nutrition and Diet Planning from All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS). She strongly believes in Ayurvedic remedies.