40 Wonderful super foods for super healthy and super beautiful you
Whenever you read anything about health and beauty, you will invariably come across the advice that you should eat a healthy, balanced diet. But, what exactly is a healthy, balanced diet? To simplify things a bit for you, first of all, here is a definition of a balanced diet.
A balanced diet is one that consists of adequate amounts of all the necessary nutrients required for healthy growth and activity, including fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and proteins.
Specifically, you should be eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 portions a day), plenty of starchy foods such as rice, bread and potatoes (whole grain where possible), some milk, eggs and dairy, and a spread of meat, fish (twice a week) and beans. You should also be moderating your intake of fats, salt and sugar and, of course, drinking plenty of water.
Some foods provide you with higher concentrations of goodness than others and these are often referred to as super-foods. However, you shouldn’t just be eating one of these foods; you should be getting a good variety of these in your diet, so that you benefit from all the health properties that they offer. So, to make things easier for you, we have compiled a list of our top forty, so called super-foods that you can use to help you improve your diet:
Leeks, which are the close ‘relatives’ of onions and garlic, this super food is brimming with calcium, potassium, riboflavin and thiamine, all of which are perfect for helping to build strong and healthy bones. You can eat leeks as a side vegetable, add to chicken soups or slice and add it to a salad for a mild, onion flavor and heaps of goodness.
2. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are loaded with an antioxidant known as glutathione, which can enhance the metabolism and boost the immune system. Eating sweet potatoes can help to protect you from a whole range of diseases including liver disease, cystic fibrosis and heart disease. They also contain a good amount of vitamin C, which helps your immune system and can decrease the appearance of wrinkles.
Blueberries are a nutritional little gem and one of nature’s own anti-aging super foods. Research has shown that eating blueberries can ward of memory loss, lower blood pressure and even improve motor skills. Not only that, but they also contain the antioxidants, vitamins A and C, that will help to fight wrinkles. In tests, scientists found that wild blueberries are better for you, than the cultivated variety, so opt for wild blueberries, if you can. Blueberries are one of the most favorite snacks of Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima.
Many people think that avocados contain too much fat. Well, they do contain fat, but it is the best type of fat. They also give you a good dose of protein and fiber and they are great for filling you up, when you are trying to lose weight.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but shell fish in general is a great source iron, potassium, iodine and calcium. Not something that most people would eat very often, but getting some shellfish in your diet, just a couple of times a week, will help you to keep your bones strong and healthy.
You can eat raw carrot as a snack or grate over a salad and, of course, cook them as a vegetable or add them to stews and casseroles. The magic ingredient in this super food, amongst many other good things, is the vitamin A, which is good for your eyes and your skin. Vitamin A controls the overproduction of skin cells, so it will help fight breakouts and prevent your pores from being clogged.
7. Wild salmon
If you eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids now, it will keep your brain functioning at its optimum levels when you get older, and wild salmon has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Over thirty percent of your brain tissue is made up of fatty acids and, in older people, who have not been getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, these fatty acids in their brain decline. Choose wild salmon when you can, because farmed salmon contains less good fatty acids.
There are so many varieties of mushrooms, you can’t really ever get bored of them. Experiment with the varieties you haven’t tried before to keep your diet interesting, because all mushrooms contain ergothioneine, an antioxidant proven to boost your immune system and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
9. Chili peppers
If you like your food spicy, then you are in luck. Chili peppers give a boost to your metabolism, thin your blood and promote the release of endorphins in your body. They are also a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into the infection fighting vitamin A.
Oats are well known for their ability to reduce the cholesterol levels in your blood and they are also a good source of fiber, so this super food will fill you up for longer and help you avoid snacking, if you are trying to lose weight. If you think that cooking oatmeal will take too long in the morning, then try the instant varieties, they work just as well for your body too.
Cooked or raw, broccoli is a great source of the substances that have been proven to be effective in preventing breast cancer by minimizing the effects caused by excess oestrogen in the body. This super food also contains vitamin A, C and B-6 and, at only 34 calories per 100 grams, broccoli is a good source of nutrients, when you are watching the calories.
Eating just a handful of walnuts can give a whole heap of benefits. This super food has been linked to reducing the risk of developing cancer, boosting brain power and preventing heart disease. The nuts are a good and handy source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, minerals and vitamins too. You hardly can find a much better snack, than a handful of walnuts.
White beans, black beans, kidney beans…beans come in many different types and are an ideal source of protein instead of meat. This super food contains complex carbohydrates that are broken down slowly by the body to provide you with a long term source of energy.
14. Whole grains
It’s easy to increase your intake of whole grains. When you buy bread, flour or crackers, just check the label and go for the whole grain options. Eating whole grain foods calms inflammation and keeps your heart healthy and strong; whole grains improve your digestion and keep your colon healthy too.
15. Grass fed beef
You don’t need to become a vegetarian to eat healthy, but you can choose healthier meat to eat. When you buy beef, try and find beef from grass fed cattle, as it will contain a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
16. Olive oil
It is actually a World Health Organization official recommendation that we should all adopt a Mediterranean style diet, and part of the reason for that is the olive oil. You can use olive oil in all kinds of dishes and in salads; one of the many benefits of this super food is that the fatty acids and polyphenols that olive contains will help to reduce inflammation in your joints and other cells in your body. Extra virgin olive oil is the best option.
The humble chicken’s egg: boil it, poach it, make an omelette, you know how versatile they are. Eggs are a great source of protein and other vitamins and minerals, including choline, a type of chemical similar to the B vitamin, that has been linked to improved brain function.
18. Red wine
This is all about eating a healthy and varied diet, not about complete abstinence from the things you like and there’s nothing wrong with a glass of red wine or two. Don’t overdo it though, one or two glasses a day is more than enough, and the resveratrol found in red wine will help prevent blood clots and keep your heart healthy.
Yes, this super food does keep the doctor away. As well as all the vitamins and fiber that you get from an apple, it also contains antioxidants that fight inflammation. Apples contain the flavonoid quercetin, which can help prevent allergies, heart attacks and degenerative brain diseases.
20. Greek Yoghurt
Fat free Greek style yoghurt contains twice as much protein, as regular yoghurt and one serving of the creamy, delicious treat, will provide a woman with 25% of her daily recommended intake of calcium. Greek yoghurts also contain probiotics, which help to boost immune system.
Tomatoes are also a superb immune system booster. This super food contains lycopene, which can fight infection and help to protect you against degenerative diseases. Whether you eat them raw, cooked or drink the juice, you will gain the benefits from regularly consuming tomatoes.
Spinach – a super food that is well known as a muscle builder and it also contains vitamin K, which can help prevent bone fractures with its bone strengthening capabilities. Spinach also has high content of potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, Vitamin A, C, B-6, which can help to protect your liver and ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s.
23. Bok Choy or Chinese cabbage
Most commonly known as a vegetable that goes with Chinese cooking, Bok choy has a very high calcium content, which is used by your body to build strong bones and it also contains folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, iron, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Potassium can help lower your blood pressure and beta carotene has been shown to effective in reducing the risk of certain forms of cancer.
24. Dark chocolate
Chocolate of any sort makes a luxurious treat, but dark chocolate is good for your health as well. It is high in antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and contains bone building potassium, magnesium, iron and copper.
24. Green tea
A delicious cup of steaming, comforting, green tea is filled with an antioxidant called EGCG, which is believed to reduce the risk of most types of cancer. The tea also contains phytonutrients, which help to prevent the growth of bad bacteria in the intestines and promote the growth of good bacteria.
Thought by many to be a stamina boosting food, artichoke has the highest concentration of magnesium and potassium of all vegetables. This super food also contains vitamin C, to boost your immune system, and artichokes are a rich source of flavonoids and antioxidants that can help to prevent strokes.
The sweet and delicious fruit of the pineapple is a cocktail of vitamins and nutrients, and is a great super food to help with the reduction of inflammation. It also helps to protect the body against arthritis and can help protect your eyes from macular degeneration.
The ancient Romans knew all about the benefit of barley and both the gladiators and the Roman soldiers relied on barely, as a staple of their diet. Barley is filling and contains complex carbohydrates, which are released slowly as energy into the body. This, combines with the fiber and starch all help to make barley a super-food, especially for those trying to lose weight.
28. Raisins and other dried fruit
When you are looking for something sweet for a quick snack, try a handful of raisins. They contain energy boosting carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C and iron, and, even though they do contain natural sugars, they also contain phytochemicals, which can help to fight tooth decay.
Used in desserts and Indian cooking, cinnamon has a very high antioxidant content, which can help to inhibit the formation of blood clots and it also kills the bacteria that cause bad breath. Studies have also suggested that this super food can help to stabilize blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood stream.
Professional athletes know all about the benefits of bananas. This handily, ready wrapped fruit, has a high potassium content and electrolytes, that help to stop the loss of calcium from the body. A single banana contains about 450 milligrams of potassium and the high fiber carbohydrates will provide you with an instant energy boost.
The figs with dark skins are the best for your health. They are packed full of manganese, potassium and antioxidants and the fruit can also help to control your body’s PH balance. The fiber in figs can help to control blood sugar levels and eating figs can also help the digestive system and help ease constipation.
Celery – another super food that makes a great tasting snack for everyone, but, it is especially useful for people who are on a weight loss plan. A celery stick is packed full of healthy fiber, electrolytes and water, so it’s a great way to balance the hydration in your body. They are a great replacement for more salty snacks and, because celery is so filling, snack on celery and it will help stop you from snacking on more unhealthy things.
You can add ginger to many types of dishes, both sweet and savory; this super food is used in many Asian recipes. Chop fresh ginger or grind it, and it can be added to chicken and fish dishes; as well as the delightful ginger flavor you will also benefit from a compound known as gingerol, which is recognized as being a cancer suppressor.
The kiwifruit is not originally from New Zealand, as you might have thought, it originated in China and it used to be known as the Chinese gooseberry. Just like bananas, the fuzzy kiwifruit is a brilliant source of potassium and is also rich in lutein and vitamin C. Eat this super food as an after workout snack and it will replenish your energy levels.
Both the fruit and the oil made from pomegranate seeds have many health and beauty benefits. This super food is packed with minerals and vitamins and also contains ellagitannins, which can reduce the risk of most types of cancer. In a study, pomegranate juice was found to slow the growth of some cancers and it is also heart-healthy. Thanks to high antioxidant content pomegranates also help keep you young.
Cherries contain plenty of fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C. They contain powerful antioxidants that will help your body fight free radicals, thus slowing down aging process and preventing cancer. Cherries are rich in queritrin, a flavonoid, that had been found by researches to be one of the most efficient anticancer agents.
37. Dried plums
The shriveled up dried fruit known better as prunes are well known for their laxative effect, so you don’t want to eat too many in one serving! They also have a high content of magnesium, potassium, calcium, boron and copper, which can help to prevent the onset of osteoporosis, as well as a dietary fiber called inulin, which helps the body absorb calcium better, thus strengthening your bones.
38. King crab
Add crab to your diet and you will benefit from the huge amount of zinc that it contains. This high protein, low fat food can help build healthy bones and boost your immune system. The zinc in crab meat has been directly linked in studies to an increased effectiveness of the immune system and can help prevent you from developing respiratory infections.
Almonds are an energy packed snack and super food, that can help lower the cholesterol in your blood and control blood sugar levels, which can be useful for those suffering from diabetes. Almonds are also rich in in amino acids and the skins of almonds are filled with antioxidants.
40. Vegetable and fruit juices
Ditch the soda and go for fruit juices and vegetable juices instead. A glass of juice counts as one of your five portions a day and it will provide you with all the vitamins, minerals and the fiber that eating fresh fruit or veg will, but in a glass. The benefits of drinking fresh juices are really quite dramatic, rich in antioxidants and nutrients fresh juices are a perfect food supplement, so don’t be afraid and experiment with various juices combinations, and let your taste guide you.
Do you have some other super foods that you love to include in your healthy diet? Feel free to share your thoughts and healthy eating tips in the comment section below.
Stay happy and healthy!