article by Sujana Marie
‘Superfood’ is a broad term used to identify foods that have research-proven nutritional benefits.
Whether you’re currently suffering from chronic illnesses or want to protect yourself from future health issues, these foods can lower your blood pressure, manage diabetes, improve digestion, help you maintain a healthy weight, improve memory, strengthen your immune system and prevent (even stop the growth of) cancer, to name a few benefits, but you already know you’re supposed to eat your vegetables.
The question is, how?
To help you add these superfoods to your diet, I’ve included tips to incorporate them into your current stable of recipes as well as easy ways to prepare them. You’ll also find must-try recipes from around the web to inspire your culinary journey to a healthier life.
Since many known superfoods are fruits and vegetables, consider adding a daily smoothie, fresh juice or saute to your routine. Veggie superfood salads (and there are some amazing superfood salad dressing recipes in here) and fresh fruit salad can also help you get a daily dose of nutrients, and their benefits.
If you want your diet to support your health, this is what you need to eat and why:
SUPER FOOD # 1 : GREEK YOGURT
The calcium, magnesium, and potassium in Greek yogurt can lower your blood pressure and probiotics improve digestion. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight but there are no regulated guidelines on what can and can’t be called ‘Greek yogurt’ so keep an eye on the ingredients for added sugar.
Add This Superfood To Your Diet:
Use Greek yogurt as a base for dips and substitute these for mayonnaise on sandwiches. You can also add Greek yogurt to your smoothies, substitute it for sour cream, add it to homemade creamy salad dressings or enjoy it as a snack.
SUPER FOOD # 2 :QUINOA
Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain, and is a complete source of protein. If that weren’t enough, “About 25 percent of quinoa’s fatty acids come in the form of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and about 8 percent comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in plants,” according to Melinda Lund, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian and medical nutrition therapist.
Substitute rice and pasta for quinoa. You can also add it to vegetable sautes and soups or use it to create a crust for casseroles.
Cooking With Quinoa: 38 Recipes from Cooking Light includes chicken nuggets, buffalo burgers and a quinoa salad that incorporates apricots and pistachios.
SUPER FOOD # 3 : BLUEBERRIES
According to Medical News Today, blueberries lower blood pressure, manage diabetes, and prevent cancer. In a recent study, blueberry consumption was also linked to brain function. Those who ate blueberries, “demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” according to Robert Krikorian, the lead author of two studies conducted by a team from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Ohio. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the test subjects also showed increased brain activity in the group who consumed blueberries.
Add This Superfood To Your Diet:
Add blueberries to your cereal, yogurt and smoothies. Make fresh fruit salads a summer staple and pack to-go cups for lunches and snacks.
Greatest has compiled 56 Ways to Eat More Blueberries and includes recipes for a Blueberry Peach Chia Parfait, Blueberry-Lime Salsa and a Red Leaf Salad with Blueberry-Pomegranate Vinaigrette.
SUPER FOOD # 4 : KALE
Kale packs a nutritional punch. One cup of this leafy green contains 14% of your daily calcium, 659% of your daily vitamin A needs and over 900% of the daily recommended vitamin K. Vitamin A supports vision and skin health, bone growth, and the immune system while vitamin K regulates blood clotting and carries calcium through the body.
Kale can be added to soup, sautes, scrambles, wraps, frittatas and salads. If you’re not a fan of kale, try making kale chips. You can also run these greens through a juicer or blend them into a smoothie.
This gallery of 50 Ways to Eat Kale from Self includes Coconut Sriracha Kale Chips and Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza.
Related reading: Kale Juice – A Nutritional Powerhouse Rich In Antioxidants
SUPER FOOD # 5 :CHIA
These are the same seeds that sparked the cha-cha-cha-cha-chia jingle, but they’re good for more than decorative terra cotta. They provide heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, carbohydrates, calcium and antioxidants. According to Health magazine, “Just one tablespoon of chia seeds gives you 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, as well as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and omega-3s, and has just 60 calories.”
Chia seeds gel when added to liquid, which is what makes chia pudding possible. You can stir them into smoothies or yogurt for added texture. If you find you don’t like the feel of gelatinous chia seeds, sprinkle them onto your snack right before eating.
Daily Burn’s 14 Creative Chia Seed Recipes include a Lemon Poppy Chia Seed Loaf and a Chocolate Pistachio Chia Shake.
SUPER FOOD # 6 : OATMEAL
The fiber in oatmeal helps regulate blood sugar, keeps you feeling full for longer, reduces your body’s absorption of ‘bad’ cholesterol, prevents cancer and protects against cardiovascular disease, but stick to rolled or steel-cut oats. Flavored oatmeal packets contain an average 10 grams of sugar, as well as other additives and a significant amount of sodium.
You can add oats to your smoothie or pancake batter for a heartier texture or bake them into bars, muffins and breads for heart-healthy breakfasts and snacks. Overnight oats are a convenient breakfast option if you’re prone to skipping this all-important meal.
BuzzFeed has 15 Yummy New Ways to Eat Oatmeal and hits the spot with recipes for Chocolate Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding Cake, Sweet Potato Oatmeal Casserole, and Lemon Blueberry Baked Oatmeal.
SUPER FOOD # 7 : GREEN TEA
Green tea isn’t fermented, which is why it retains a high amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols, substances known to fight inflammation and DNA damage. It also revs your metabolism and regulates blood-glucose levels. But be warned: “A study in the European Heart Journal found that while tea can improve blood flow and blood-vessel dilation (and thereby lower your blood pressure), adding milk to the tea counteracts these effects.”
Make green tea part of your morning or afternoon routine. Because of its caffeine content, you should avoid it before bed or if you have a sensitivity. If you don’t like the taste of the tea alone, stir some into your (dairy-free) smoothie or juice.
Matcha powder is made by grinding up green tea leaves and it’s great for baking. If dessert is your thing, the 16 Matcha Green Tea Dessert Recipes from Bustle include Matcha Swirl Cheesecake and Double Chocolate Hawaiian Tiramisu with Matcha.
Related reading: 35 Health Benefits Of Green Tea
SUPER FOOD #8 : BROCCOLI
This versatile vegetable offers a host of vitamins and antioxidants including folate, potassium, vitamin C, lutein and beta-carotene. This assortment of nutrients prevents cancer growth, lowers cholesterol levels, and promotes eye health. It should be noted though that consuming broccoli can cause adverse effects in those with thyroid sensitivities and can interfere with blood-thinning medications.
You can add broccoli to your favorite salads, soups, sautes and scrambles. It can also be juiced. For a super yet tasty side dish, add honey, Greek yogurt, dried cherries and crumbled feta to chopped broccoli.
For more recipes, including Broccoli Gratin with Crispy Onions and Creamy Broccoli and Apple Slaw, click over to Real Simple’s 10 Family-Favorite Broccoli Recipes.
Related reading: Health Benefits Of Broccoli, Broccoli Nutrition Facts And Broccoli Recipes
SUPER FOOD # 9 : STRAWBERRIES
Strawberries are a natural source of vitamin C, an immunity booster, and ellagic acid, which has been shown to suppress cancer cell growth. Lutein and zeathancins are also present in strawberries. These antioxidants neutralize the potentially negative effects of free-radicals, which could otherwise damage or kill healthy cells.
Fresh sliced strawberries are a decadent topping for waffles, cereal, yogurt and oatmeal. When out of season, frozen berries make a healthy and convenient addition to your smoothies.
Looking for more creative ways to eat strawberries? Popsugar’s slideshow of 19 Indulgent (and Healthy) Strawberry Recipes includes Strawberry Coconut Butter and Vegan Strawberry Fudgesicles.
SUPER FOOD # 10 : SALMON
Salmon has long been revered as a heart-healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids. The nutritional website, Cure Joy, notes that these acids “help reduce cholesterol, maintain flexibility of arteries and veins and strengthen cardiac muscles, [while] the essential amino acids repair damages to the cardiovascular tissues.” This results in lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels which is critical to reducing your chances of heart disease.
Try making a new or favorite salmon recipe once a week then pack the leftovers for a later lunch. If you’re short on time, you can also pick up pre-seasoned salmon packages to top salads or grains. You’ll find them with the canned tuna fish at your grocer.
Don’t have a favorite salmon recipe yet? You’re sure to find one in Good Housekeeping’s 40 So-Simple Salmon Recipes, whether it’s Ginger-Crusted Salmon with Melon Salsa or Spring Salmon Fettuccine.
SUPER FOOD # 11 : WATERMELON
Our bodies naturally lose muscle mass as we age. This is caused by a loss of mitochondria, which are responsible for the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production, but according to researchers at Sorbonne University, watermelon increases the production of regenerative proteins that build muscle and repair mitochondria. This allows them to produce more energy and, ultimately, burn more fat. This effect, along with the presence of the amino acid L-citrulline, can slow the outer appearance of aging
You can save money on your grocery bill by slicing and cubing your own watermelon while it’s in season. Add these nuggets of good health to your juices, smoothies and fresh fruit salads.
For more ways to enjoy this summer favorite, Greatist has come up with 34 Ways to Eat Watermelon at Every Meal. The Chilly Watermelon Soup incorporates Greek yogurt for a double dose of superfoods and the boozy Watermelon Coconut Cocktail utilizes coconut water.
Pro Tip: Eat a daily fruit salad for breakfast or as a post workout snack to incorporate more superfruits in your diet.
SUPER FOOD # 12 : SPINACH
In addition to protecting your eyes and building your bones, spinach also aids in digestion and protects the digestive tract. Need another reason to eat more of this leafy green? The vitamins and minerals found in spinach can improve your skin and give you a glowing complexion.
You can incorporate spinach in almost anything: smoothies, juice, savory dishes. Try adding it to scrambles, pasta dishes and salads.
Whip up one of Babble’s 25 Clever Ways to Eat Your Spinach like their Baked Eggs with Herbs and Spinach or the Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Peach Bruschetta.
33 Shocking Health Benefits Of Spinach
SUPER FOOD # 13 : PISTACHIOS
Not only do pistachios reduce LDL (or the ‘bad’) cholesterol, they also increase the good kind (HDL) in a short time if you eat them regularly. Making these nuts a regular diet staple can also prevent Type 2 diabetes.
They contain vitamin E, which protects skin cells from harmful UV damage, and the anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that defend tissues from free radicals.
Make a bag of pre-portioned pistachios your new to-go snack. You can also add chopped nuts to your yogurt and baked goods.
The Loop has come up with 21 Ways to Use Pistachios and recipes range from Matcha White Chocolate Pistachio Cups to Goat Cheese Truffles with Honey and Pistachio.
SUPER FOOD # 14 : ALMONDS
Praised for their monounsaturated fatty acids (or MUFAs), almonds are among other heart-healthy superfoods like olive oil and avocados in preventing heart disease and diabetes while lowering bad cholesterol levels.
These MUFAs also make almonds surprisingly filling – even if you stick to twelve nuts, which count as a mere 100 calories. Their high concentrations of vitamin E and magnesium also improve blood flow.
While you can certainly sprinkle chopped almonds on salads, yogurt and baked goods, you can also take advantage of almond butter and almond flour to add more of this superfood to your meal plans.
You can learn to make your own almond butter or try the Almond Spinach Pesto with these 5 Ways to Eat Almonds from Muscle and Fitness.
SUPER FOOD # 15 : GINGER
Ever wish you could sanitize your insides? If so, you’ll love ginger. This wonder-root is antimicrobial and kills both ingested and surface bacteria, including salmonella.
The effects of this superfood are so strong that the enzyme found within, known as zingibain, will dissolve parasite eggs. Ginger is also hailed as an aphrodisiac because of its ability to increase blood flow.
Thinly sliced ginger can be preserved in sherry or candied by simmering them in heavy syrup and rolling the slices in sugar. You can also grate ginger into smoothies and sauces for a healthy kick.
For more health benefits, try these recipes for homemade Ginger Ale, Sweet Potato Soup with Miso and Ginger or Chinese Ginger-Lime Candy from the collection at That’s It.
SUPERFOOD # 16 : BEETS
Beets are powerhouses of folate, magnesium and vitamin C, which can reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow, resulting in better brain function.
Studies have explored the link between improved circulation and heightened physical ability and found that a two-cup serving of beet juice ingested 2½ to three hours before exercise can improve performance.
If you’re using fresh beets, it may be helpful to note that the greens (or tops) are also edible. If you’re juicing your beets you can feed the entire vegetable through your machine.
The Huffington Post has curated 30 Beet Recipes from around the web that includes Beet, Goat Cheese and Honey Tarts, Roasted Beet Balsamic Mustard and Ginger Beet Sorbet.
SUPERFOOD # 17 : BEANS
Because of their versatility, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid classifies beans as both a high-protein food and a vitamin-dense vegetable.
With the exception of soy beans (which have high levels of MUFAs) these superfoods are low in sodium, calories and fat yet are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber. Beans’ nutritional composition means you’ll feel full and energized long after eating them.
You can add beans to soups, wraps, salads. To bulk up their nutritional values, stir black beans into taco filling or use bean paste instead of mayo sandwiches.
For 30 Delicious Ways to Eat More Beans, like Flourless Peanut Butter Chickpea Pancakes and Tuna White Bean Salad, check out this recipe collection from Maybe I Will.
SUPER FOOD # 18 : PUMPKIN
That festive orange hue is the result of carotenoids, fat-soluble compounds shown to decrease the risk of breast, lung, bladder, colon, cervical and skin cancers as well as heart disease.
And while carotenoids can be found in a number of fruits and vegetables, their concentration in pumpkin is higher than almost any other source.
When adding pumpkin to your diet you may find it’s easier to bake with the canned product, which can also eliminate the need for oil. Don’t discount pumpkin seeds or pepitas, either.
They make a great addition to baked goods or can be enjoyed as a stand-alone snack. Pepitas are high in protein and fiber and have a mood-boosting effect.
Want more recipes that feature pumpkin? HellaWella has 20 Creative & Healthy Ways to Eat More Pumpkin. Two of these are Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili and Homemade Pumpkin Creamer.
Pro Tip: You can substitute pumpkin for oil in recipes cup for cup. The ratio for replacing butter is one cup butter equals ¾ cup pumpkin puree.
SUPER FOOD # 19 : APPLE
In addition to its nutritional qualities, there may be another reason to add apples to your diet. A recent study tested three groups of grocery shoppers. Groups were given either an apple, a cookie or no food before shopping.
The apple group bought 28 percent more fresh produce than the cookie group and 25 percent more than the control group. Enjoy an apple before grocery shopping and you’ll also be supporting your brain, heart and digestive health.
Keep an apple in your in your desk at work and snack on slices with peanut butter or yogurt for dipping. You can also add diced apple to many sweet and savory dishes. Try them in your morning oats or atop pork chops.
Try the 15 Easy and Healthy Apple Recipes on Running with Spoons and you’ll check more than one superfood off your list. Both the One Bowl Greek Yogurt Apple Oat Bread and the Four Ingredient Flourless Apple Pie Blondies are chock full of nutritious superfoods.
Apple Juice – What Everyone Ought To Know Of Its Wonderful Benefits
23 Health And Wellness Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar
SUPER FOOD # 20 :CRANBERRIES
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that six common berries, cranberries included, interfered with the growth of human breast, colon, oral and prostate cancer cells in vitro.
Cranberries are also anti-bacterial, killing gut bacteria that causes ulcers and stomach cancer, and they boost the immune system.
When adding cranberries to your recipes, compliment their tartness with something sweet. Try honey and cranberries in yogurt or cook the berries in a saucepan with orange sections and a little agave or sugar for a tangy topping.
Don’t have any of your own cranberry recipes? You can borrow these 20 Healthy Cranberry Recipes from Healthy Season Recipes. Then go ahead and take credit for the Cranberry Orange Prosecco Cocktail and the Cranberry Pita Bites with Horseradish Cheddar at your next get-together.
SUPER FOOD # 21: GARLIC
Garlic may protect you from E. coli, salmonella and staph according to a new study. Researchers have found that an average serving of garlic has 1% of the potency of penicillin. Garlic also has antioxidants that prevent cancers, inhibit signs of aging and protect the liver. Making garlic a regular addition to your diet can even lower your blood pressure.
Garlic is most powerful when eaten raw but makes a flavorful addition to almost any savory dish. To maintain the health benefits, add minced garlic to your food at the end of cooking. For raw garlic, try scraping toasted bread with a clove before topping.
If you want to try something new, the 10 Great Garlic Recipes from Fresh Healthy Eats include Zucchini Fries with Garlic Chipotle Aioli, Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa, and Garlic Mashed Cauliflower.
Related reading: 39 Health Benefits Of Garlic : Plus Nutritional Value Of Garlic
SUPER FOOD # 22: CAULIFLOWER
Speaking of cauliflower, research suggests that the white variety of this super vegetable may protect cells from DNA damage while orange cauliflower leads with 25 times more vitamin A. In addition, all cauliflower varieties contain antioxidants that promote a healthy metabolism and glucosinolates that support the cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems.
Of course you can snack on raw cauliflower but you can also add it to sautes, scrambles and stir fries. For a simple side dish, roast a full head of cauliflower drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and fresh herbs in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.
You can use cauliflower to make bread sticks, rolls, tots, bagels and pizza crust with BuzzFeed’s 23 Insanely Clever Ways to Eat Cauliflower Instead of Carbs.
SUPER FOOD # 23: LEEKS
Not only does the sulfur in leeks reduce your chance of blood clots but this vegetable also blocks conditions in the body that are shown to cause cancer. If that weren’t enough, leeks have been proven to lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure and strengthen immunity. They’ll also boost your eye health with lutein and zeaxanthin.
You can add the mildly sweet flavor of leeks anywhere you’d normally use onion-but leeks require careful cleaning since they’re grown in sandy soil and collect dirt between their layers. The video below will have you prepping leeks like a pro in no time:
Bon Appetit’s 23 Favorite Leek Recipes include Potato and Celery Root Gratin with Leeks and instructions for fire-pit leeks, perfect for your next camping trip or bon fire.
You might have found that you’re already eating superfoods-or maybe you don’t eat any. Little tweaks to your diet, like adding ingredients to your smoothies and exploring new side dishes can help you incorporate a full range of nutritional benefits.
I hope you’re inspired to go grocery shopping and eat a healthier variety foods. If you are, be sure to eat an apple first-then tell me your favorite (or least favorite) superfood in the comments. Despite all its benefits, I don’t like plain Greek yogurt.
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