“Super food” may sound gimmicky, but science shows that a diet rich in these goodies will leave you healthy, svelte and energetic. Super foods are nutrient-dense, which means they have a high ratio of nutrients to energy (calories) and are ideal for weight loss and disease prevention. A few super foods, like nuts and olive oil, are nutritious but also energy-dense, meaning that they have substantial calories in addition to their health benefits and you should eat them more sparingly. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are often (but not always, as with nutrient-void iceberg lettuce) considered super foods.
We’ve known for a long time that eating non-processed (or lightly-processed) plant foods leads to longevity and overall well-being, while eating processed, sugary foods with saturated fats can make you sluggish and gain weight. While the super food diet is not a “diet” per se, if you incorporate these edibles into your meal plan you’re likely to shed pounds without even trying. More importantly, you’ll help stave off diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. Here’s the lowdown on the top super foods to try:
- Oats: Oats are packed with iron and B-vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, folate and vitamin B-6. One cup has almost quadruple the daily value for manganese, which aids in fat and carb metabolism as well as calcium absorption. Oats also have plenty of fiber, so you’ll feel full before you’ve had the chance to overeat. Just be sure not to sprinkle on too much sugar. Instead, add some organic honey and sprinkle with heart-healthy cinnamon for flavor.
- Blueberries: These sweet berries have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of all fruits and vegetables. This means that they fight dangerous free radicals that can cause chronic diseases like cancer. Plus, these and other blue and purple fruits have anthocyanins, pigments that may cut cancer risk, promote memory and help combat aging. Blueberries are delicious on their own, or you can top them on probiotic-rich yogurt. Greek yogurt is my fave, and it has less sugar and more protein than other yogurts.
- Walnuts: Omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenol antioxidants and plenty of protein make walnuts an ultra-healthy and satisfying snack. All nuts are relatively high in fat, and you should eat them in small portions. if you’re watching your weight. However, the omega-3s in walnuts can help lower triglycerides (fats) in the blood stream and reduce cholesterol levels. Sprinkle some walnuts on your salad to make it more satiating and add texture.
- Other super foods: Other super foods to incorporate in your diet for optimal health include kiwis, red wine (just a glass or two a day), quinoa, almonds, strawberries, eggs (free range; don’t promote cruelty), kefir milk, spinach, broccoli, kale, and flax seeds.