5 Superfoods You Should Add to Your Diet Today
“Superfoods” has been the top buzzword of the health and wellness industry in recent years. The idea is these foods rise above the processed junk on our grocery store shelves and provide us with near-magical benefits from anti-aging to immunity boosts. The term “superfoods” is not necessarily scientific and is rarely used by nutrition professionals. While superfoods do not have their own section on the food pyramid, they widely refer to nutrient-dense foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, antioxidants, fibre, and other beneficial boosters. While fad diets come and go, science is proving that superfoods are here to stay. Maybe you are looking for new tools to improve your memory or perhaps you are curious about the benefits of the superfoods you are already eating! Either way, let’s dive into the top five superfoods you should incorporate into your diet for a healthier lifestyle.
1. Pomegranate Seeds for Anti-Aging
Pomegranates do not just belong in your favorite Greek myths; they also belong in your diet! Pomegranates are usually in season from September through December but pomegranate seeds are also available in convenient snack packages year-round. This sweet fruit has even sweeter perks.
Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds:
- Anti-Aging Properties: Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent our cells from being damaged by free radicals such as alcohol and smoke. Pomegranate seeds have also been shown to increase circulation which can keep you feeling as young as you look. Finally, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, a crucial ingredient to youthful, glowing skin.
- Anti-Viral: A 2017 study out of Cardiff University in Wales demonstrates how the phytochemicals found in pomegranates have been effective in fighting infections.
- Prevents Heart Disease: With both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, pomegranates can actively protect against cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions.
- Weight Management: Pomegranate seeds are high in fiber to help you feel fuller for longer. Also, fiber helps move food through your gastrointestinal tract and maintain your gut health. With the additional benefit of boosting your metabolism, pomegranate seeds can be a powerful ally in losing weight.
- Reduces the Spread of Cancerous Cells: Studies have shown that pomegranates counteract tumor growth and inhibit the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body.
2. Garlic for Immunity
As if we needed another excuse to pack on the garlic, but this tiny vegetable brings big benefits to the table. Even better, it is easy to incorporate into your diet. Many recipes already include garlic, but you can add extra servings to your recipes or even just chew on a clove each morning. If the idea of eating an entire clove of garlic seems like too much of a wake-up call, you can also incorporate garlic supplements into your routine.
Benefits of Garlic:
- Antimicrobial: We have been listening to the science behind germs for over a year during this pandemic. Since garlic has microbial properties it can protect our bodies against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Adopting garlic into your daily routine can help protect you against a variety of illnesses and infections. Think of garlic as a suit of armor for cold and flu season
- Lowers Cholesterol: A study found in the Journal of Nutrition found that due to its anti-inflammatory abilities, garlic can reduce cholesterol by 10-15% as well as lower blood pressure. These are key factors in preventing heart disease down the road.
- Fights Cancer: Much like pomegranates, garlic contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals that prevent the growth and spread of various cancers throughout the body.
- Excellent Source of Vitamins: Garlic is chock full of vitamins that are specifically designed to bolster the immune system. Garlic contains vitamin C and selenium that both prevent infection. It also provides doses of iron and vitamin B that help carry oxygen throughout your body. When you combine garlic’s vitamins and minerals with its antimicrobial properties, it is arguably one of the strongest and most natural ways to protect yourself from disease.
3. Blueberries for Memory
Chances are you already have the next superfood on your grocery list – blueberries! Blueberries are incredibly versatile as you can mix them in with your cereal, blend them into your smoothies, or even them by the handful as your afternoon snack. Blueberries are in season during the summer but are readily available all year long.
Benefits of Blueberries:
- Memory Aid: Multiple studies have shown that regularly eating blueberries can help improve and maintain your brain. This study demonstrates that greater intakes of blueberries helped slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by almost 2.5 years! Additionally, participants who continued consuming blueberries daily exhibited higher levels of brain activity during cognitive challenges.
- Antioxidant: We can thank a phytochemical called anthocyanin for giving blueberries their signature color. Anthocyanin is also what makes blueberries an excellent source of antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect our cells from damage and keep our vital organs healthy and functioning.
- Control Glucose Levels: Blueberries are exceptionally helpful to those with type-2 diabetes or prediabetes as the anthocyanin they contain can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Keeps Bones Healthy: Blueberries are full of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, vitamin K, zinc, and calcium. Coincidentally, these vitamins and minerals are also the building blocks of our bones. Regularly consuming blueberries can assist in keeping your bones strong and prevent debilitating fractures.
4. Avocado for Weight Management
We cannot possibly discuss superfoods without talking about avocados. For many, avocados were their first introduction into the world of superfoods – and for good reason! Avocados have healthy benefits for nearly everyone and are effortless to slip into our daily diets. Some of the most popular ways to consume more of this superfood include avocado toast, guacamole, and blending one into your smoothie. Avocado’s mild flavor makes it a versatile crowd-pleaser!
Benefits of Avocados:
- Contains Healthy Fats: Did you know a single avocado can have over 20 grams of fat? The NHS explains that eating monounsaturated fats has bountiful benefits including supporting brain health, providing energy, and helping to absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A and K.
- Glowing Skin: The fat molecules in avocados are tiny and can travel through our cell membranes. That means that fat can directly protect our DNA from free radicals leaving us with youthful, glowing skin!
- Promotes Blood Flow: Avocados are one of the best sources of potassium available. Potassium helps reduce our sodium levels and by extension ease the pressure on our blood vessels. Therefore, blood is more easily able to flow to all of our organs.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Experts recommended we consume 18-21 grams of fibre each day and a single avocado contains up to 10 grams by itself! Fibre helps move waste through our systems and keeps us feeling full so we are less tempted to binge on snacks.
5. Honey for Boosting Your Mood
Finally, we are ending with something sweet. Honey has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Applied topically, honey can even be used to heal wounds! However, we prefer ingesting honey by mixing it in our tea or drizzling some over our breakfast.
- Boosts Mood: So much of our mental health depends on having a healthy brain. However, when our brains experience inflammation, it can affect our mood and develop even more drastic mental health issues. Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties allow our feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, to flow. Additionally, a study showed honey also has mild antidepressant effects as some forms of depression can be attributed to mild inflammation.
- Bolsters Immunity: Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties. In fact, during allergy season it is recommended to have a daily dose of locally sourced honey. Honey harvested from our areas contains pollen from flowering plants that could be triggering our seasonal allergies. By introducing micro-doses of that pollen via honey daily, our bodies begin to acclimate which can lessen the severity of seasonal allergies.
- Protects gut health: Honey contains powerful prebiotics. Our gut health relies on the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria. When that balance is thrown off, we start to experience uncomfortable stomach issues. The prebiotics in honey help nourish the good bacteria and keep our stomachs working (and feeling!) great.
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