Super foods are composed of various foods with significant contributions to our health beyond their nutritional value. Ali Miller, registered dietitian with The Life Long Weigh, shares some common ‘super foods’ that you can eat every day!
What makes a food super and how do we separate the real foods from fad products?
What foods do you have here and why are they classified as ‘super foods?’
What is a simple way to ensure you are getting a variety of super foods into your day?
These super foods include brightly colored antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, fibrous beans and grains, essential fatty acid rich fish and nuts, and probiotic thriving yogurts and kefir. Below is a list of the Top 5 ‘Super Foods’ with the qualities that make them beneficial and ways to incorporate them into your daily food routine!
The Onion (Allium) Family includes Onions, Garlic, Chives, Shallots, Leeks, and Scallions. These foods are rich in potent flavinoids that produce an antioxidant, Glutathione, used to detoxify the body from nutritional, environmental, and biological toxins and carcinogens. These foods can aid in the production of Natural Killer cells that combat tumors and infections. Power member garlic is also antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial.
Alliums can be added to the diet in soups, salads, slaws to increase savory flavors or add a kick.
All berries are great choice for a snack providing fiber and rich with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. Blueberries are rich in anthocyanidins which have the ability to neutralize free radical damage, enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillaries, and are cardio protective. Another way in which blueberries are a super food is through their anti-inflammatory effects which can protect against multiple disease states. Research has demonstrated their ability to reduce oxidative stress in the brain.
Blueberries are sweet flavor boost to any smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, or eaten alone as a snack!
Spicy foods, primarily peppers, tend to be powerful detoxifying agents as they induce the cleansing process of perspiration, but spicy peppers are super foods because they are rich in capsaicin a flavinoid that is anti-inflammatory, reduces headaches, relieves pain, is anti-carcinogenic and heart healthy. Peppers also have more vitamin C than citrus fruits and contribute a rich source of carotenoids. Peppers are a beautiful addition to salads, soups, stews, salsa, and any food that would benefit from a kick!
Yogurt is thriving with probiotics, living beneficial bacteria, which are able to colonize in the gut to eliminate negative bacteria, protect the body from viruses, destroy mutated cells, limit inflammation, promote optimal digestion, increase production and absorption of vitamins. Yogurt can be eaten as a healthy snack or added to oatmeal and smoothies.
Kale (cruciferous vegetables) contains sulfur and provide compounds necessary for detoxification and cancer prevention. When these foods are broken down through chopping, chewing, or blending they trigger enzymes in the liver to disable cancer causing agents in the body. These sulfur compounds have the ability to inhibit tumor growth and decrease size. Kale provides a powerhouse of phytochemicals which include carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin as well as vitamins A, C, B6, and minerals manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium. The indole-3-carbinol (I3C) compound contained in kale and broccoli can lower LDL cholesterol transport and fight the xenoestrogen effects that lead to belly fat. Kale can be blended in a green smoothie, massaged into a raw salad, steamed, or braised as a savory side dish.
Ali Miller, registered dietitian and natural foods chef of The Life Long Weigh
- 1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
- Zest of 1 lime
- 3-4 Tbsp lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 apple, chopped
De-stem kale and chop in thin ribbons. Place kale leaves in bowl and sprinkle with sea salt, massage kale for about 2 minutes until it releases moisture, drain moisture off. In a large salad bowl, whisk together oil, lime zest and juice, garlic, cumin and agave. Slice avocado and apple, fold these ingredients into kale leaves and toss with dressing. Serve cold.
Nutrition (per serving, makes 4 servings):* 239 calories, 15.3g fat (2.1g saturated fat), 25.8g carbohydrates (7.3g fiber), 5.7g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 353mg sodium
Kale, the Yale of vegetables
Researchers have identified over 45 different flavonoids in kale; kaempferol and quercetin top the list. These flavonoids combine both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits in a way that gives kale a leading dietary role. Kale can provide great benefit in combating chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition, kale is now recognized for its comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system.*
Raw kale is full of vitamin K, A, C, manganese, fiber, copper, tryptophan, and calcium amongst many other nutrients, however, when steamed, the cholesterol-lowering effects are enhanced as the fiber-related components can more readily bind with bile acids in your digestive tract.*