Super-foods are all the rave these days. Every day we are discovering how nature provides all that we need for optimal health. Here are some everyday superheroes to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle.
This mighty brassica offers a wealth of health benefits. In addition to vitamins A, C, and K, it is full of sulforaphane compounds. These precious isothiocyanates help stimulate the body’s natural detoxification process, especially boosting the production of enzymes that clear out cancerous compounds.
Some type of berry grows in almost every climate in the world, and they all offer wonderful benefits. Berries usually contain vitamin C and are high in fiber, important for heart health, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and digestion. Raspberries are highest in fiber, and contain another cancer-fighter, ellagic acid.
Blueberries are another great choice with anthocyanins, antioxidants that protect against free radical damage and may improve memory and immunity. Blueberries also contain epicatechins, an antioxidant that keeps bacteria from sticking to bladder walls and may help to prevent urinary tract infections.
Beans are also very high in fiber and antioxidants. In general, the darker the bean the higher the antioxidant level, with black (turtle) beans and red kidney beans being the winner. Beans are also high in iron, though they need to be consumed with something that has vitamin C for optimal absorption. They are also a great source of vegan protein, but to form a complete protein you also need to have some sort of grain in the same day. To go raw, sprout adzuki or kidney beans and buckwheat for a complete living foods dish that is high in complete protein.
Yams (Sweet Potatoes)
Deep orange yams, sometimes called sweet potatoes (though those are a completely different vegetable), are full of B vitamins, alpha and beta carotene, and fiber. The carotenes, which are transformed into vitamin A, help keep bones, eyes, and immune systems healthy. They also remove disease-causing free radicals. Yams also contain vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese, and lutein.
Healthy fats are an essential part of healthy living. Coconut oil promotes digestion, blood sugar balance, healthy cholesterol levels, and hormonal balance. Just one or tablespoons a day, taken 20 minutes before a meal or used in place of other oils for cooking, can have profound benefits for your metabolism, skin, nails, hair, joints, and brain. Be sure to eat only organic, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil.
Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world, and for good reason. This naturally sweet bark helps balance blood sugar levels and promotes digestion. It is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and it can help prevent blood clots. One quarter to one half teaspoon a day (as a part of meals or in a smoothie) is plenty to reap the benefits, and it is especially helpful when added to sweet foods to reduce any potential blood sugar spikes.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Most nuts can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Walnuts are helpful for their high alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that supports positive mental health and heart health. And almonds provide a lot of protein, vitamin E, and other important nutrients. Organic, raw, soaked nuts are the best for nutrient content and digestibility.
Tea is high in flavanoids, a type of antioxidants that protect the health of the brain, metabolism, teeth, gums, and bones. Green tea in particular is excellent for metabolic health. While it does contain some caffeine, unless you are particularly sensitive the benefits of one cup of green tea a day far outweigh the caffeine content. Just be sure to have your tea at least an hour away from your meals, as the tannins can interfere with iron absorption.
A much loved dark leafy green, spinach is chock full of vitamins (A, C, E, and K), fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and the B vitamin folate. Spinach is best eaten with some healthy fat and citrus to help your body absorb all the nutrients and balance out the oxalates that can interfere with calcium uptake – so have some coconut oil and lemon juice with your spinach.
Garlic is so much more than just a powerful flavor agent. Garlic has antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antioxidant benefits. It helps protect the heart, colon, stomach, and prostate from damage by toxins. It has a large concentration of sulfur compounds that support detoxification and help protect the body from cancer.
Nature provides an abundance of superfoods in nearly every area of the world. A diet that is full of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds can support our health in numerous ways. And including these healthy foods in your daily menus can go a long way in helping you as healthy as possible.