For the past few years, there’s been plenty of talk about superfoods.
Most often, what we consider to be superfoods tend to be exotic (and expensive) ingredients shipped from halfway across the world. And every time we discover a new miracle food, we must think of new ways to incorporate it into our ever-complicated diets.
But here’s the thing: superfoods don’t have to be exotic or expensive to be healthy. In fact, we could argue that a lot of what we can source locally and at a low price can be considered a super-healthy component of a wholesome diet. We just have to know where to look and how to get enough of it.
Are you looking for ways to supercharge your nutrition and ensure your body is getting the best of the best? If so, these are the best superfoods to incorporate into your diet. You’ll learn not just about what you need to eat to boost your wellbeing, but the benefits of each ingredient, along with a few easy ways to turn it into a meal.
The Best Superfoods Include Antioxidants
One of the most desirable benefits you can receive by adding superfoods to your diet is the high amount of antioxidants in certain comestibles. Why? Because of the way we live nowadays.
According to Verywell Health, free radicals are “highly reactive and unstable molecules” produced in the body either naturally (by our metabolism) or because of our exposure to toxins, air pollution, UV rays, chemical substances, etc. When allowed to rein free, these lead to oxidative stress, the cause of anything from wrinkles to cardiovascular disease to diabetes to cancer.
Fortunately, however, food can play a role in combating oxidative stress.
Antioxidant-rich foods, for example, protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, namely by inhibiting their formation. The consensus is that the most effective antioxidants include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- and a few other compounds readily available through food.
Now you know why you need superfoods and what they do. It’s time to learn how you can get more of the benefits without actually having to spend all day preparing meals.
1. Leafy Greens
Undoubtedly, the most accessible superfood to eat more of is going to be a variety of dark green vegetables. Choose kale, swiss chard, or spinach. Regardless of your choice, these veggies contain many micronutrients (including vitamin C) and carotenoids (which have been proven to play a role in preventing cancer).
Moreover, they’re relatively easy to prepare. You’ll get the most nutrients out of them if you don’t cook, but you can also steam them or make them part of a delicious stir fry. You can even get creative and combine them with berries and fruit as part of your morning smoothie.
Another delicious superfood you can get almost anywhere? Berries.
Incredibly rich in antioxidants and fiber, these fruits offer excellent potential, in part because of their pleasant taste. Plus, they retain their beneficial properties once frozen, so you can get them year-round at an affordable cost.
The best part about adding berries to your diet is that you can choose whichever sort suits you best. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries tend to be favorites, but any other kind will do as well.
For most activity enthusiasts, nuts make for the perfect go-to snack that’s both tasty and beneficial. They’re rich in fiber, healthy fats (which protect from oxidative stress), anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative compounds. So, they should definitely have a recurring role in your healthy meal plan.
Moreover, nuts like almonds also contain high amounts of magnesium, a micronutrient essential for maintaining healthy circulation and preventing mid-day sleepiness.
A plant native to South and Southeast Asia, turmeric has been used as a spice for centuries. And not just for its taste and vibrant color, but its medicinal properties as well.
In traditional Eastern medicines, turmeric is used to:
- aid digestion
- prevent bloating
- improve circulation
- expel phlegm
But, in recent years, turmeric has been recognized in the West as well. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can be used to treat (or better yet, to prevent) diseases like arthritis, anxiety, and all sorts of inflammation.
The downside of turmeric, however, is that its main compound (curcumin) isn’t easily bioavailable. Simply put, it’s quickly eliminated from the body without providing enough benefits. Fortunately, though, by consuming it with black pepper, you can get all the gains you’d need.
To incorporate this superfood into your diet, simply add it to the dishes you prepare. For example, it tastes great when used in rice and bean dishes. You can also make yourself a glass of golden milk, which is an excellent post-exercise drink.
5. Green Tea
If you’re serious about adding superfoods to your diet, it might not be a bad idea to swap your morning coffee for a mug of freshly prepared (loose-leaf) green tea.
Rich in epigallocatechin gallate, this beverage has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These are the properties that help combat oxidative stress; they even play a role in preventing heart disease and some types of cancer).
Moreover, it could offer benefits for weight management, adding another item to the list of reasons why a cup of green tea every day makes for a great health strategy.
6. Kefir (& Other Fermented Foods)
Most people think of kefir as a tangy breakfast food that’s supposed to be good for you. But it turns out that the fermented milk drink could play a key role in nurturing a healthy gut and body.
- For one, it’s rich in beneficial bacteria that make up the gut microbiome, making it a good substitute for your daily probiotic supplement.
- Secondly, kefir contains several key micronutrients, including vitamins B2 and B12.
- Thirdly, some research suggests that the probiotic properties of kefir help stimulate the immune system, thus preventing cancer.
And the best part? You can easily make kefir at home. All you need is a milk base of your choice (coconut milk is a great option, but you can use cashew and almond as well), a starter culture you can get off of Amazon, and a bit of patience.
After a few days, you’ll have yourself a healthy snack you can either eat on its own or which you can combine with fruit for a delicious dessert.
Did you know that one of the most efficient antibiotics in nature comes in the form of an ingredient you already have in your pantry? Yes, garlic has a lot of potential for anyone looking to get or stay healthy.
Here are some major perks of garlic:
- efficient at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
- could prevent tumors
- promotes blood glucose management
- has antimicrobial properties
- boosts immune function
To eat more garlic, you can go one of two routes. On the one hand, you can add the plant to your meals (preferably uncooked). Or, if you’re not a fan of the taste, you can also opt for a supplement, which is usually an easy and affordable way to get more garlic in your diet.
Is Eating Superfoods Enough to Stay in Top Shape?
Now that you have a general idea of the most easily accessible superfoods you can add to your diet, it’s time to start cooking.
However, if you’re incorporating these ingredients into your daily meal plans because of their health benefits, it’s important to remember one crucial thing:
Eating superfoods does help the body stay healthy. But, it is in no way enough if you’re leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
To get the most out of superfoods, you need to do your best to keep your body in top shape.
And that means limiting stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding toxin exposure. Furthermore, it also means giving up unhealthy habits like smoking, unprotected sun exposure, binge eating, or letting yourself burn out.