What if you could eat only 12 foods for the rest of your life? Which ones would you choose that provide optimal health and wellness benefits?
It’s tempting to put items such as pizza, mac and cheese, ice cream, French fries, and doughnuts on the list, yet what we are really looking for are super foods that will provide you with the biggest nutritional punch and support overall health and wellbeing. That means we want to identify foods that are especially nutrient-rich, accessible, easy to prepare, and come in high on the antioxidant scale.
What are the top 12 superfoods you should include in your diet at least once a week? Here’s my list:
These nuts makes the list for various reasons, not least of which are its high content of calcium, vitamin E, and protein. If meat is not on your menu, almonds definitely should be. Of course, almonds are a great choice for everyone, and they certainly are easy to bring with you wherever you are.
This green leafy vegetable is not a household name, but it should be. Broccoli rabe is packed with calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Some of the health benefits associated with broccoli rabe and its many phytonutrients include an ability to help slow aging, strengthen bones, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, protect against cancer and stroke, and reduce inflammation.
It’s difficult to imagine a single food that can provide so much nutrition in such a small fruit. Every serving is packed with nearly 20 nutrients, including vitamins B6, C, E, and K as well as folate, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Try to include one-half an avocado in your diet daily…there are so many ways to enjoy them! Check out this recipe for chocolate avocado pudding.
Why are beans a superfood? They are packed with fiber and protein, rich in antioxidants, inexpensive, easily accessible, and very versatile.
Just one serving of beans four times a week can reduce your risk of heart disease by 22 percent as well as lower your chances of breast cancer, colon cancer, and other diseases.
Several fruits qualify as superfoods, and blueberries are one of them. Mayo Clinic researchers have named blueberries as a food that helps fight chronic diseases such as heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes, as well as promote healthy aging and protect against memory loss.
These fruits are a rich source of fiber, vitamin C, and a wide variety of phytonutrients. Fresh or frozen, blueberries are easy to eat just about any time of the day.
This remarkable spice has been recognized for its many health benefits for millennia. Recent research has verified that cinnamon can help with prevention and management of urinary tract infections, soothe the stomach, enhance brain function, support healthy glucose metabolism, and lower bad cholesterol.
Cinnamon’s benefits have been attributed to antioxidants called polyphenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acid, which are also found in other superfoods.
Cocoa (chocolate) may well be the most popular item on the top 10 list of superfoods, but it’s also important to note the specific type of chocolate that meets the superfood title.
I am talking about dark chocolate that is composed of at least 70% cocoa. Cocoa is rich in flavonoids and flavonols, phytochemicals that can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
I am a huge fan of ground flaxseeds (into a meal) as they deliver high levels of healthy omega-3 fats that can help with management of high cholesterol, cancer, heart disease, inflammatory conditions, depression, and diabetes. Along with omega-3s, flaxseeds also provide fiber, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
The top 10 list must have at least one food that has potent antibacterial properties, especially given the rise in antibiotic-resistant organisms, and that food is garlic.
In addition, the allicin in garlic has anti-inflammatory power as well as an ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. To reap the most benefit from garlic, consume it fresh and crushed, which releases a large portion of the allicin.
The inclusion of lemons in the top 12 list is made because of their high vitamin C content, which can boost bone health, raise levels of good cholesterol (HDL), promote tissue repair and growth, and support the immune system.
Lemons also contain flavonoids that provide anti-inflammatory help and may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. The addition of lemon slices and lemon juice to tea, soups, salad dressings, vegetable dishes, and many other dishes provides a healthy boost.
Far too many people overlook the extraordinary nutrition provided by sweet potatoes and limit their consumption to Thanksgiving. These tubers are overflowing with beta-carotene, which is transformed into vitamin A in the body.
Studies have shown that vitamin A is necessary for healthy vision, fighting certain cancers, slowing the aging process, contributing to bone health, and supporting the immune system, among other benefits.
If you love eating curry, then you’ve had turmeric, the spice that gives curry its unique flavor. The health benefits of turmeric are attributed to the presence of curcumin, a compound that has been shown to help protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, enhance blood circulation, reduce pain, and prevent blood clots.
Turmeric/curcumin can be used in powdered form and added to a wide variety of dishes.
- Axe J. Health benefits of cinnamon & nutrition facts.
- Collins K. Benefits of beans include lower cancer risk. Nutrition Notes NBC News 2006 Oct 6
- Ware M. How can lemons benefit your health? Medical News 2018 Jan 5
- WebMD. Health benefits of turmeric.
Author Bio: Andrea Donsky, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N) and Founder of Naturally Savvy Media Inc. is a pioneer and visionary in the Natural Health Industry. Andrea inspires people to make healthier choices through her businesses, books, articles, videos, speeches, hosting, and media appearances. She has appeared as a healthy living expert on TV and radio across North American networks that include: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, Univision, WGN, KRON4, Better TV, City TV, CTV, CBC, and Global. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007, a website (www.naturallysavvy.com) with unique content dedicated to healthy living from a holistic perspective. To learn more about Andrea, visit www.AndreaDonsky.com.
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