Superfoods are whole, natural foods like brightly colored vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and aromatic herbs and spices. What classifies these foods as ‘Super’ is their unbelievable resume of health benefits. Their positive effects on the body and their ability to prevent disease are legion. Although the list of superfoods is long, we are going to take a look at a few that top the pops for us and that you can easily incorporate into your daily diet.
Benefits of Superfoods
Although listing the health benefits of each superfood could fill a book, we are going to share those that affect us most:
- Superfoods help regulate metabolism and burn fat
- They lower bad cholesterol
- Prevent or reduce inflammation
- Prevent heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevent the formation of cancerous cells
- Protect organs from toxins
- Promote digestive health
Beans and lentils
Whether you like garbanzo, kidney or pinto; any kind of bean or lentil is a must in your anti-ageing arsenal. Beans are generally low in fat and sodium and high in fiber. What makes them super though, is the high concentration of essential fatty acids like omega-6s (only soybeans have significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids). They are also a valuable source of proteins which are released into the blood stream slowly and this keeps you satiated for longer.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are the unsung champions of general good health. They are responsible for dramatic reductions in the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, they help to control your weight and eliminate hunger pangs. Nuts and seeds reduce the visible signs of aging. Opt for unsalted nuts or add a handful to salads, oatmeal or sandwiches.
From sweet bells to fiery Scotch Bonnets, peppers have a wealth of health benefits on offer. Although hotter peppers hold more benefits (thanks to higher levels of capsaicinoids), all peppers are beneficial. Adding peppers to your daily meals will enable you to take advantage of their extraordinary anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-cancer, and heart-healthy effects. Peppers also contain antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids, and twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. They are known to relieve headaches and help reduce the pain of arthritis thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Cinnamon definitely falls into the category of ‘all things nice’. This fragrant spice has incredible health benefits like reducing blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 20 percent. All you need to consume is about a half a teaspoon a day. This can be sprinkled over coffee, oatmeal or fruit. Cinnamon gets its name from an essential oil found in cinnamon bark called cinnamaldehyde. It’s the cinnamaldehyde that gives this spice its flavor and is also a natural blood thinner and anti-inflammatory.
We’ve saved the best for last! Cocoa includes several bioactive amines, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are potent antidepressant compounds. This is why it’s best to reach for the chocolate when you are feeling blue. In fact, cocoa contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which produces the same brain chemistry as falling in love. Cocoa is packed with potent antioxidant compounds called polyphenols which are keep your heart healthy and improve metabolism. But there’s so much more: cocoa-derived polyphenols reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, increase antioxidant capacity, protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and raise HDL cholesterol levels. Cocoa helps reduce the risk of blood clotting, which lowers the risk of stroke or heart attack. Opt for good quality dark chocolate as this contains higher levels of cocoa. Cheaper makes of chocolate tend to be filled with unhealthy vegetable oils.