Sorry folks, there is no such one food that will nourish you optimally. However, some of the foods are nutritionally denser and make a difference in life when dealing with diseases than others.
I just had a post about how healthy meals using varieties of superfoods with known benefits helped me cure metabolic syndromes (3).
As scientific research evolves, more foods are being added to the superfood list. But just knowing about the superfoods does not fill your stomach. It should be cheap, available and affordable for you to put it in your mouth.
This post entails varieties of nutrient- heavy foods with their respective health benefits so you can pick and choose from them and add to your daily diet. There are some foods naturally organic, inexpensive, widely available and can benefit many who can’t afford.
Let’s delve into the topic what are superfoods (4)?
1. Moringa- The Miracle Superfood with 92 Nutrients and 46 Types of Anti-oxidants
Moringa is, and can be naturally Organic. Your health benefits from fresh fruits, leaves, and seeds. Typically it is organically grown with no need of insecticides, inexpensive and widely available; either fresh or as dry powder. Frozen Moringa pods are available in Indian grocery stores.
Portions: Maringa has been used safely up to 6 grams in a day for three weeks (5)
How to eat: Leaves could be saluted to eat and could be added to mixed veggie curries. It can be cooked with lentils like moong dal with cumin and coriander powders and tastes delicious. The small pieces of fruits (fresh or frozen) could be boiled and then lighted sautéed with oil.
Caution! Do not eat the roots and bark extracts. Eating moringa flowers can contract the uterus and leads to miscarriage.
2. Jackfruit – Enjoy the Raw Fruit with No Sugar and Rich in Protein and Fiber
Jackfruits (6) provide an enormous health benefit to human.
Steam it, curry it with spice, bread it with oats flour and sauté it in olive oil. Raw jackfruit is little cumbersome to get the flesh out but the benefits make it worth. There are frozen varieties found in the supermarket and are equally good.
3. Amla (7) – Triple Flavor in One Fruit! More Medicine, less Fruit
Start with bitter, chew it, then tangy and sweet at last.
Raw Amla is a season dependent fruit which lasts only a few months. Amja juice is equally effective and available widely. Preferably drinking 2 teaspoons of amla juice diluted with water in an empty stomach in the morning will help all the processes described above in the picture.
Guava meets and beats superfood apple in nutrient comparison. Moreover, this delicious fruit does not need a pesticide growing up. It is naturally organic. It is inexpensive and available throughout the year in many parts of the world.
- Guava is low in calorie, low in sugar (4.9 g/55 g) rich in protein (3 g/ 55 g, 12%) and fiber-rich. This is not typical of a fruit which separates guava from the rest.
- Polyphenols in guava make it a strong anti-oxidant that fights free radicals.
- Guava is a source of A, B, C, E, K vitamins.
- It contains skin healthy minerals like Copper, Zinc, Manganese, and Magnesium
Research suggests that guava fruits and leaves (9) come with a range of benefits.
- Help Cure Metabolic Syndrome (10): This can be the fruit for diabetes patients. Guava leaf tea may help improve insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.
- Guava fruit without peel is more effective in lowering blood sugar as well as serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL. It increases HDL levels (11).
- Works against Obesity: Guava satiates you easily because of high fiber content. May help in weight loss and heart health
- Immunity Boosting: As one of the richest sources of vitamin-C containing fruit (381% vs. 8% from apple), it is immunity boosting and protect you from cold and infection.
- Brain Help: It’s B3 and B6 vitamins help blood circulation in the brain, increased cognition, and relaxation of nerves.
- Relieving Toothache: Guava leaves help reduce toothache.
- Improves Skin Complexation: Guavas are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants like carotene and lycopene which help protect the skin from wrinkles. Guava helps tone up and tightens the facial muscles. Raw guavas and leaves are even better
It is a healthy midday snack. Use Guava in a fruit salad; eat it with chat masala as an appetizer for dinner. Guava juice can make a tasty summer drink. Guava is a fruit you can eat every day. You can make jam and jelly.
Portion: 1 medium raw Guava (40-50 g size)
5. Blueberries (12): Small Dose with High Health Impact
Blueberries are small fruit with a powerhouse of nutrients. They are low in calorie, high in Vitamin-C, fiber, Vitamin, K (not found in a wide variety of vegetables). Here are some examples of edible berries to add on to your plate.
Some other berries in this group are Blackberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Raspberries.
Blueberry is a small reservoir of healthy nutrition and rich color speaks of its anti-oxidant action. Here are the benefits of consuming blueberries.
- Prevents Cancer Growth: Regular consumption of berries offers its Strong anti-oxidant benefits combating free radicals that in turn prevent cancer growth (13).
- Anti-aging: It helps prevent DNA damage which leads to slow aging
- Promotes heart health, brain function, and memory. They are known to reduce cardiovascular risk.
- Anti-Inflammatory: It reduces inflammation-cause of acne and other diseases.
- Food for Diabetics: Berries are powered to break glucose into energy. This process reduces the glucose level in the blood to a considerable amount. It increases the level of insulin
Portion Size: Half cup of fresh blueberries (75 g, 42 Cal, 10.7 g carb, 1.8 g fiber, and 1.8 g protein) eating regularly every day is ideal. If you are fructose intolerant or have too much fiber, overdosing can get you a stomach ache and bloat.
Eat them fresh or frozen with your morning breakfast cereal, eat them with yogurts or snack them as such. It can be a great addition to pancakes and muffins. Fresh or frozen berries as part of a regular diet may be better than juice and extract.
6. Salmon (Wild) (14): An Almost Complete Nutrition package
- Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (15) and a powerhouse of the world’s most heart-healthy protein, low in calorie and offers a multitude of health benefits.
- Contains Vitamins A, D, B, and E. Vitamin-D (16) (17)is a key vitamin
- You get a glowing skin eating salmon twice a week. Contains Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium-Skin healthy minerals
- Good source of selenium which is a strong anti-oxidant
- Help keep skin young
Grill it, steam it, smoke it and enjoy the smart nutrition just by itself, or with brown rice and some grilled veggies as lunch or dinner.,
7. Avocado (18)– Eat the Green and Stay Evergreen
The official recommendation of avocado is 30 g which is about one-fifth of a fruit. Consuming higher amounts can add fat to your body. The green meat inside is a rich reservoir of 20 vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
- Avocado consumption helps support cardiovascular health, may support weight management and healthy aging. It lowers blood pressure
- It provides healthy fat for skin and cell membranes.
- Vit-E present in Avocado fights off free radicals which can cause harm to cells, tissues, and organs.
- Vitamin-A protects your eyes from developing diseases.
- It keeps your heart healthy.
- It lowers cholesterol being rich in mono-saturated fatty acids
- It contains healthful fats that keep skin moist and keep out of toxins
- It fights cancer.
- It treats arthritis
Enjoy the empowering avocado-egg breakfast. Sprinkle, black salt and ground pepper and enjoy the twist. Have some yogurt and berries on the side. Cut Avocado into chunky pieces, drizzle some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and black salt.
8. Spinach- Love Your Green Friend and Thank it
- Low in calorie and provide protein, iron, vitamins (A, C, K) and minerals
- Eating spinach may benefit eye health, reduces oxidative stress, reduce blood pressure,
- One cup of spinach adds 6% of daily magnesium, that regulates your blood sugar
- It helps in keeping the bone healthy
- It is an anti-oxidant; helps fight free radicals which are enemy of your body that can lead to cancer.
- The fiber in spinach helps your digestion.
Eat it in your salad, sauté it and enjoy with your meal. Serving size is one cup of spinach. Eat 3 times a week.
9. Green Tea- Go Wild with It
Green tea comes with multitudes of health benefits (19). Maybe the health benefits are related to its catechin content and that appear to have anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects (a).
- Polyphenol in green tea make it a strong anti-oxidant and help lower your skin cancer
- It improves your brain function
- It reduces your appetite that helps weight reduction.
- It improves your appearance and increases fat burning.
Gulping few cups a day can save you from oxidative stress.
10. Eggs: Get All Your Essential Amino Acids
Here is the amazing nutrition attached to eggs (20). Egg contains all the essential Amino acids we need to survive ((18 Vitamins and Minerals).
- They are anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive and work as immuno-modulator. There are no data showing that eggs are linked to heart attacks.
- Eggs control blood sugar- better for skin health
- Lecithin and choline present in eggs are required nutrient that is essential for the normal development of the brain . It can be consumed at all stages of life. It is a cheap nutrient for really nutrient deficient individuals. It is versatile and easy to cook: Scramble. Poach, boil or curry it. You can have them in your breakfast, snack, and dinner. Its versatility, cost, and availability with heavy nutrients make it a top superfood
Two to three eggs are good to eat per day. But it varies from person to person.Talk to your healthcare provider if you suffer from high cholesterol
11. Chia Seeds (22)- Do not Underestimate this Tiny One
Chia seeds are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (Linolenic acid).
- Chia seeds are rich in anti-oxidants containing flavonoids and phytophenols. They fight off free radical which can lead your body to cancer.
- They provide fiber, Iron, magnesium and calcium and low in calorie
- You need a couple of teaspoons to keep your hunger away. That makes you lose weight.
- Chia seed oils are helpful in diabetes, good choice of healthy oil to maintain a balanced serum lipid profile although the study is not broad enough.
- Cardio-protective effects resulting from the additive effect of ALA and n-3 long chain PUFA was observed in women in a human trial with chia seeds (a).
- A dietary pattern including Nopal, chia seed, soy protein, and oat reduces serum triglycerides and glucose intolerance in patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes (metabolic syndrome) (23)
- In an animal study, eggs from hens fed with chia seeds had the highest ω-3 ALA content as compared to hens fed with flaxseed or rapeseed (24).
Almond- A Healthy Fat that Helps You Lose Weight!
- Source of healthy fat
- Good source of protein
- Loaded with anti-oxidant
- Prevents harmful oxidation of LDL cholesterol
- Almonds can lower cholesterol levels. They are heart healthy.
- They are high in Vitamin-E
Eat 8-10 soaked raw almonds will carry you through the day. Overeating may make you fat. Snack on it. Add them to breakfast cereals. Make your almond milk and you got a healthy drink. Top your toast with almond butter.
13. Oats- Wake Up With A Bowl and Meet Your Daily Goal
Oat are micronutrients rich and possess vitamin E, folates, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, carotenoids, betaine, choline, Sulfur-containing amino acids, phytic acid, lignins, lignane and alkylresorcinols (Flander et al. 2007)
There are several kinds of oats available in supermarkets and food store. It confuses you to pick the right one. Look for less processed version or with less external unhealthy additives like sugar. Rolled and steel cut oats have good nutritional value.
- They can lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar.
- It is a gluten-free whole grain and helps in weight loss.
- Oats contain soluble fibers that help digestion and metabolism. They are high in protein.
- A daily intake of 3 g of soluble oat β-glucan can lower the risk of coronary heart disease (FDA 1997).
- It is feeling keeping away your hunger for quite a while that leads to body weight reduction.
- Oats contain a unique group of anti-oxidant possibly coming from a short chain fatty acid that fights with free radical which is the potential enemy of your skin.
40-45 gm of uncooked oats will suffice your breakfast. It can be soaked in water for 30 minutes and grinding makes a drink. Add blueberries, and guava pieces, bananas for better taste and make it more nutrient rich.
Quinoa, Brown Rice and Ethiopian Teff are some other super grains which belong to this category.
14. Turmeric- The Golden Spice
- The antioxidant properties are reflected from its beautiful bright yellow color. It increases the body’s antioxidant capacity to fight with free radicals.
- Turmeric is naturally anti-inflammatory. It provides a natural defense against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Preliminary studies have found turmeric’s prospect in reducing pain in Osteoarthritis.
- Curcumin boosts the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) increasing the growth of new neurons and helps fight various degenerative diseases in the brain.
- It reduces the number of heart attacks after by-pass surgery.
- It works against depression (27).
Keep turmeric powder in a cold dark place to protect them from oxidation. About the dose, talk to your health care provider although it is safe for oral consumption and applying on the skin.
Caution! Turmeric may interfere with the action of blood thinners like Warfarin and Plavix. Ask your doctor if you are on those medications.
Turmeric provides internal health benefits and helps your external appearance. Use it in making healthy turmeric milk, add it to your curries, turmeric tea and as face masks turmeric masks as part of your exfoliation routine.
15. Lentils: The Poor Man’s Protein “+ Much More”
Benefits of Lentils (28 ):
Lentils are a vegan and vegetarian source of superfood. A sprouted version of lentil is a trendy superfood of 2019. They are considered the poor man’s protein and available everywhere.
Lentils are the highest source of starch and insoluble fiber. They can nourish you with high quality of pre-biotic carbohydrate. All of this work towards your healthy gut.
- They work toward controlling your blood sugar and help your diabetes
- It Helps in body weight reduction
- It protects your heart.
- Anti-bacterial: Reduce and prevent bacterial infection
- They protect you from cancer
Portion Size: The ideal amount is ½ cup (115 Cal) equivalent of 2 ounces of protein (~1/3 of your daily requirement).
Boil it and add spices to flavor it. Steam it or sprout it; they go well with salads. Sprouted ones are a trendy superfood of 2019. They reduce bloating vs. the steamed version.
16. Sweet Potato
- These are an excellent source of novel health-promoting compounds (29) containing beta carotene and anthocyanins which adds stability to the color. Purple sweet potatoes contain more anthocyanins, they function as anti-oxidants working as free radical fighters, may offer inflammatory benefits which are the cause of several chronic syndromes along with anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. In herbal medicine, anthocyanin-rich substances have long been used to treat a number of conditions including high blood pressure, colds, and urinary tract infections
- Average 100 g size sweet potato (30) contains a remarkable 384% of eye-healthy Vitamin-A, 7% carbohydrate, 6.5 g sugar.
- Good source of fiber when eaten with the skin on.
- It contains collagen building helper Vitamin-C and Copper, 90 Cal, 4% protein. Manganese (25%) helps utilize many vitamins in the body and helps the metabolism of nutrients.
How to use for good health? Eat it raw, baked, and steamed, microwaved, puree.
17. Greek Yogurt- Feed Your Second Brain “Gut”
.Fermented dairy products contain naturally occurring beneficial bacteria and are a natural source of probiotics. Greek yogurt with live active cultures with low sugar content (less than 10g per serving) is recommended.
Probiotics (31) help your gut health being used as food by the microbes.
- Probiotics can calm inflammation
- They boost skin function and help make skin radiant the inside out and outside in.
- Research shows pro-biotics can fight free radicals.
- Good bacteria help build collagen, increase hydration and smooth the fine lines and wrinkles.
- They help maintain appropriate pH that inhibits pathogenic bacteria colonization.
- Lactobacillus family of bacteria can reduce UV induced sun damage on the skin.
- Probiotics absorb nutrients from food
Olive Oil (32)
- May prevent heart stroke.
- Extra virgin olive oil infused with Vitamin-D (33) (34) can help muscle repair.
- The oleic acid present (73-83% of Olive oil) has the ability to smooth the skin (34).
- The polyphenol present in olive oil act as potent anti-oxidants which improves general health and appearance. They show anti-cancerous activity by scavenging free radicals.
- The essential fatty acid present in olive oil nourishes the skin and acts an anti-inflammatory agents
- It helps Inhibit and prevents the development and growth of the tumor.
Portion size: Dietician recommendation is 15 mL per day. Use olive oil sparingly in your cooking and sprinkle it on a salad with lemon or vinegar.
19. Garlic (35): You May Have to Love the Smell!
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Garlic helps reduce plaque deposit heart and blood vessels and reduce thickened artery which inhibits blood flow thus preventing heart attack
- Antitumor and anti-microbial effect
- Helps respiration and digestion- Garlic contains allicin which helps people having lungs problem resulting in difficulty in breathing. It cures asthma symptoms.
- Effective against leprosy and parasitic infection
- Garlic is a prebiotic and feeds probiotic bacteria and their growth populating healthy bacterial assembly.
- Allicin in Garlic helps acne-causing bacteria (36), reducing swelling and inflammation which help blood circulation providing better nutrition to the skin. It helps in producing clear skin.
Garlic is an easy plant to grow even inside the house. Eating a clove of garlic every day before you sleep helps your body. Chop them off and use in stir fry, chutney, pickles, eating with yogurt are some of the ways you may enjoy the delicacy of garlic and get benefit from for your health and skin.
Preferably drinking 2 teaspoons of amla juice diluted in water in empty stomach in the morning to help all the above processes.
- If we have to eat, why is not the best food? Put a variety on your plate to get the best outcome. Include superfoods in your diet or swap the diet to enjoy the vitality, stamina and good health. It will make your visit less to hospitals and doctors.
- Eat as much organic as possible. Try not to strip off the nutrients by peeling the vegetables, refining the whole grains, and then use them.
- Stay closer to the low side of the food chain. Realize refined and processed material can significantly lose its nutritional value.
- Good health has no substitute. So eating healthy and simultaneously getting medicinal benefit is the smart way to go.
- Rest 8 hours, no more or no less. Exercise-even 30 minutes of brisk walking will help your overall health.
- Eating in moderation is the key. Too much of any good thing is bad. Follow the guidelines. Talk to your nutritionist for portions.