We’ve all heard the term “superfood,” but what exactly makes certain foods so much better for you than others? While there is no medical definition as to what classifies a superfood, they’re typically foods that offer a range of health benefits beyond simple caloric value. Superfoods often supply some combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in conjunction with fiber, protein, and fatty acids that your body needs to thrive. The superfoods on this list pack a one-two punch that make fitting them into your diet a must.
These berries are antioxidant rich in the form of anthocyanins, which helps fight cancer and disease. They also contain oleic acid, the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. Although the fresh fruit is hard to find, frozen and powdered forms of açai berries are readily available in most grocery and health stores. However, avoid açai juices that are full of added sugar.
These little guys offer an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium. They’re a great option for vegetarians or people who don’t like fish to obtain the omega-3s they need. Chia seeds become soft and chewy when soaked in liquid, so they’re good for adding texture to smoothies or yogurt. Try making a healthy chocolate pudding by mixing with raw cocoa powder and almond milk.
These seeds are in high protein; contain all the essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth and repair; and have omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, magnesium, and potassium. Add them to soups, salads, or pesto sauces for a kick of protein.
This ocean vegetable is rich in omega-3s; calcium and magnesium, which contribute to bone health; iron; potassium; iodine; and zinc. There are several varieties of seaweed to choose from, but the most commonly used is nori, which is used to make sushi. Roll nori with brown rice and veggies for a vegan option.
This thick and creamy superfood has twice the protein of regular yogurt and is packed with probiotics that improve digestive health. Watch out for flavored varieties that often have added sugars; instead, try plain, fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fruit and honey. Use in place of sour cream, mayonnaise, and cream cheese for a superfood substitute.
Blueberries are chock-full of potassium and vitamin C. However, the phytonutrients in these berries are what make them super. Phytonutrients neutralize free radicals that cause aging and cell damage, which means blueberries may protect against cancer and help fight against Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Kale is a power-packed source of vitamins A and K, not to mention fiber, calcium, and iron. In some cases, cooked kale offers more iron per ounce than beef. Like blueberries, they contain phytonutrients that seem to lessen the occurrence of certain cancers, including breast and ovarian.
We all know that salmon is an excellent source of protein and one of the most popular sources of omega-3s. But did you know that salmon also provides selenium, a mineral that helps prevent cell damage? Add on the abundance of B vitamins found in this fish, and salmon quickly becomes a superfood powerhouse.
Almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut, meaning that per ounce it offers the most bang for your buck. It’s rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and protein. Toss back a handful for a quick afternoon pick-me-up and a boost of superfood goodness.
This legume is cheap and easy to cook, making its high iron and protein content even more attractive. Lentils are an excellent way for vegetarians and vegans to fight off anemia, and they’re low on the glycemic index, which makes them an easy choice for people with diabetes or those looking to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Written by: Anna Limoges