There’s a saying, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” While you should always go to the doctor for a medical issue, imagine how much better we’d feel as a society if we made a habit to feed our bodies what they need instead of what our brains and tongues crave? Even small changes like 2-3 servings of a specific veggie a week or a smoothie in the AM instead of a doughnut can have a HUGE impact on your health and well-being. What foods can make a huge difference? Here are 25 best superfoods you need to start eating now.
The most well known Superfood is probably kale. While many people love it, some people absolutely hate it (mostly because of it’s notoriety). Kale contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, & K, can help circulation, reduce bloating, reduce inflammation, and even contains Omega-3 fatty acids with are essential for brain health and heart health. Winterbor Kale can also help with cholesterol and blood pressure levels due to its high fiber content. If you hate kale, sneak it in where you can – smoothies, brownies, stir fries, soups. It still “counts” when you can’t taste it.
Molokhia or Egyptian Spinach is REALLY good for you. It contains many of the benefits of kale but is much more palatable. It’s got carotenes, antioxidants, vitamine A, B6, C, E & K, as well as potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, niacin, and magnesium.
These little guys are full of amazing-ness, like antioxidants which may protect against cancer, plus fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. Studies are being done to see if blueberries can improve memory or help stave off age related memory loss. They’re also quite delicious so…can’t hurt, right?
Bok Choi may actually help relieve symptoms of PMS and hormone related mood swings. The build up of estrogen in a woman’s system the week before her period is what causes the not so pleasant symptoms, and veggies that contain indole-3-carbinol, like bok choi, can help the liver detoxify and regulate your system. Additionally, it contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These are things that not only help lower blood pressure, but many Americans are unknowingly deficient in.
Kefir is made from fermented milk and tastes slightly sour – like yogurt. It’s full of calcium and probiotics, which are vital to good health. It also makes a lovely base for breakfast smoothies.
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Bananas are kind of amazing. Not only do they contain potassium which helps lower blood pressure, studies have found that children who had one banana a day were significantly less likely to develop asthma. Bananas also contain vitamins C and B6 & fiber which help prevent cardiovascular disease.
When someone says “Eat your greens!” most people don’t immediately think of avocados. But they should. Here’s why: They’re full of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health and preventing osteoporosis. They also contain a plant sterol called beta-sitosterol which helps maintain proper cholesterol, antioxidants, and folate. Folate is not only essential for women during pregnancy but also may help stave off depression. To top all this off, avocados also contain plenty of fiber which helps just about everything.
Everyone should eat a handful of walnuts daily. Not only do they contain lots of Vitamin E, 1/4 cup of walnuts contains our entire daily amount of Omega 3 fats, as well as amino acids which protect vascular health. They also have antioxidants and can even help reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer as well as improve sperm quality.
You should totally eat your broccoli, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to be steamed into the tasteless lump we all dreaded as children. Roast that sucker with some garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Mmm. Broccoli contains fiber and very high levels of both Vitamin C and Folate. These are amazing not only for pregnant women, but for everyone with a brain, immune system, and circulatory system (humans, that is).
This fruit is full of flavaonoids, which can not only assist your body in fighting cancer, but also help reduce the crappy side effects of chemotherapy. In addition, they contain carotenes which prevent oral and lung cancer, and enzymes that can help prevent blood clots and help control blood pressure. Papayas are also quite good for digestion.
Ginger has been used for centuries to treat upset stomachs and for women with morning sickness, as well as boost immune systems. But did you know it can do a bit more? It speeds up digestion, can help relive pain and PMS symptoms, and has cancer fighting and brain boosting properties.
Pineapple actually contains properties that help with arthritis paint and inflammation. They have a huge amount of vitamin C, manganese, and which helps prevent mucous build up. (This is why it’s good to eat pineapple when you’re sick…fresh pineapple.) Pineapple’s properties may actually help fertilized eggs implant more easily in the lining of the uterus for those trying to get pregnant.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart Cherry Juice can help quite a bit for those that have trouble sleeping or staying asleep, as they contain melatonin. They also contain properties that seriously reduce inflammation. It’s also safe for kids, so if you have a kiddo who has issues going to sleep at bedtime or staying asleep, consider giving them some tart cherry juice before bed.
Okay, we know what you’re going to say. Water isn’t technically a food. However, people always forget about water. It’s not only essential, it’s pretty magical what being fully hydrated does for you. (Most people don’t drink enough water). Your body is designed to function fully hydrated, so when you’re dehydrated, bad things happen – cramps, headaches, random afternoon fatigue, a build up of toxins in your system, trouble skin, and constipation are all symptoms of just being slightly dehydrated over a long period of time. Make sure you’re drinking enough! Studies done by the CDC show that most Americans DON’T drink enough. It should be the overwhelming majority of your fluid intake daily. And it’s not as simple as 8 glasses a day; the actual amount varies depending on the person, their size, their overall health, and level of activity.
Chia seeds are showing up in approximately 50% of foods at your local health food store with good reason. They’re full of essential fatty acids (the most found in any plant) as well as magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Black garlic is not, like many people believe, smoked or roasted garlic. It’s *fermented* garlic. And like all fermented foods, it’s full of probiotics, which are essential for gut health. Gut health is essential for…everything else, from our immune system to our brain function. It also has double the antioxidants as fresh garlic and can help with things from liver healing to cholesterol levels to allergies.
Most people think of Cranberries as a fall/winter food, or maybe even as helpful if you have a Urinary Tract Infection, but they should be in our diet year round. Cranberries contain high amounts of vitamin C and antioxidants. In fact, they have more antioxidants per cup than most other items on this list, save blueberries.
Pumpkins are good for a lot more than pie and spiced lattes, and unlike some things on this list, it doesn’t need to be fresh to get the benefits. The magical orange globes are full of beta-carotene (which our body converts to Vitamin A), which is linked to eye health, preventing heart disease, and boosting the immune system. Pumpkin SEEDS contain all sorts of good stuff – protein, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. Some studies suggest they could stop the enlargement of the prostate and help with reducing cholesterol levels. So, y’know, make a healthy pumpkin smoothie or some soup, and grab a handful of seeds to munch on. (They’re good baked with some light olive oil and salt!)
The magic that makes chocolate *chocolate* isn’t sugar or the crap that’s bad for you. It’s Cacao Powder. Which is, by the way, really freaking good for you! It contains a significant amount of flavonoids, which lower your blood pressure and improve blood flow to the the brain and heart. Cacao also contains calcium, potassium, and a substance called phenethylamine which can help alleviate depression and boost your mood. Yes, I’ll have a cacao strawberry smoothie for breakfast please and thank you. Just make sure you get RAW and not PROCESSED. That’s very important, as processing nukes most of the good stuff.
Seaweed is ridiculously low in calories but packed with minerals like calcium, copper, iodine, and iron as well as our friend Folate and Vitamin K. It helps detoxify the body, strengthens the lining of the gut, regulates hormones, and can even prevent high blood pressure. This is why mermaids are always beautiful and chill.
Nutritional Yeast doesn’t have any leavening ability, so don’t confuse it with yeast you use for bread (it’s deactivated). It DOES, however, count as one of the few vegan-friendly sources of vitamin B12, which is important for brain and nervous system health, as well as protein and fiber. And for mothers who are breastfeeding and struggling with milk supply, it can really up your production.
Anyone who’s ever been on a diet misses potatoes. How can you not? Potatoes are magical happy foods. If you must have a potato, have a sweet potato. They have more than our necessary daily supply of beta carotene, iron, and lots of vitamins C & E. The combo of nutrients in sweet potatoes combined help protect you from cellular damage. We’re not saying you should make yourself sweet potato chips fried in coconut oil…but if you want healthy “junk” food, you should totally make yourself sweet potato chips fried in coconut oil.
Not only are beets beautiful, they can help keep YOU beautiful! They actually can help keep your skin clear and balanced. In addition, they can help metabolize fats better due to their betaine content. You can juice beets or add them to smoothies and still get most of the benefits.
Moringa Oleifera is a tree native to India. It is PACKED with health benefits – Vitamins C, A, & E (more concentration than in carrots, oranges, or almonds), calcium, iron, and potassium. It has amazing anti-inflammatory properties which can help with pain management, particularly those with arthritis. It ALSO contains all 9 essential amino acids that humans need. Usually amino acids are found in meat and dairy, and in far lesser quantities in nuts, seeds, and legumes. So if you’re vegan, or converting and having trouble, Moringa can be an amazing addition to your diet. And if you live in Florida, you can grow it in your front yard!
Offal (Organ Meats)
Bet you thought this was gonna be a meat free list didn’t you? Nope! Organ meats, like liver, are really quite good for us (particularly women who are pregnant or have specific female issues). Liver contains nature’s most concentrated form of Vitamin A, a large amount of folic acid, iron, CoQ10 (necessary for cardiovascular health), every B vitamin in abundance, and the best dietary source of copper. Kidney’s contain Vitamin B12, folate, niacin, vitamin B6 and again, iron. Hearts contain thiamin, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, CoQ10, and B vitamins. Beef hearts in particular contain amino acids that improve metabolism. If you already eat meat, eat meat that’s GOOD for you. Offal meats are also frequently much cheaper because most people just go “Ew, Icky.”
Photo Credits: 25. pexels (public domain), 24. Author’s Garden, 23-6. pixabay (public domain), 5. shutterstock, 4-3. pixabay (public domain), 2. Hari Prasad Nadig via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 1. Fumiaki Yoshimatsu via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0