There are few things as delicious as a lovely greasy burger fresh off the barbecue. Add a side of fries and a nice frosty beer, and you’ve pretty much achieved heaven on earth. However, these foods that we find so tempting and delicious are, if consumed on a regular basis, doing great damage to our bodies that can dramatically impact our health now and increasingly so as we age. Now, no one wants to give up the good things in life completely. You’re not really living if you don’t indulge yourself now and again. But, like anything in life, we must be sure we only succumb to these cravings in moderation. The rest of the time, we must give our bodies the healthy fuel they need to continue to function at their highest level and help increase our success in enjoying a long, healthy life. That is where superfoods are of such great benefit.
The best thing about this list of the top 10 superfoods is you don’t have to sacrifice flavour in order to enjoy their benefits. These natural foods are bursting with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Oh, and one more thing: they are bursting with flavour. Prepare them properly, and each one of them can rival that hamburger and fries in deliciousness any day. Now, pretty much any fruit, vegetable, nut, seed or fish is good for both your body and brain, but these superfoods stand out above even their healthy peers, giving your body its daily quota without having to resort to huge quantities. So, now that I’ve pumped up these little culinary miracles let’s get to the list. Here are the top 10 superfoods to improve your health:
10 – Yogurt
Granted, a food that is produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk doesn’t sound that tasty, but most people find it quite delicious. It, like most dairy products, is rich in calcium, which is critical in building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis, as well as being helpful in the prevention of colon cancer. It is also a good source of protein vitamin B and contains beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion. Manufacturers of many yoghurts are also bulking them up with healthy additives such as folic acid, vitamin D and omega 3s.
9 – Spinach
This Popeye favourite is another great source of calcium. In addition, it is loaded with vitamins A, C & K, and iron and is a great source of fibre. It contains flavenoids that help protect against memory loss later in life and also a healthy dose of lutein, which prevents cataracts among the elderly. With all these benefits and more, this dark, leafy green is fully deserving of the moniker Superfood.
8 – Steel Cut Oats
High in fibre and rich in protein, this hearty breakfast cereal is about as healthy a way to start out your day as you can find. Proven to lower cholesterol levels, this grain can help keep your body functioning at its fullest ability. Add some berries, applesauce, walnuts and cinnamon for an even more nutritional punch!
7 – Walnuts
Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Brazil nuts. All these tasty little snacks are super healthy when consumed in moderation, but they all must bow before the healthiest nut of them all, the walnut. Walnuts are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, a superfood within a superfood that protects the heart, mind and body from a laundry list of diseases and degenerative conditions. They have also been shown to have tremendous antioxidant properties. Eat in moderation, though. Like all nuts, they are high in fat. Too many will have you packing on the pounds.
6 – Bananas
Monkeys love these things for a reason. They are delicious and packed full of nutrients. High in fibre, with high quantities of vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium, these easy-to-digest, quick, convenient snack fruits are an essential part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Loaded with carbohydrates, bananas benefit athletes or others leading an active lifestyle that needs to fuel their bodies on the go.
5 – Garlic
While garlic isn’t really a food you want to eat by itself (though some people do), it can be added liberally to other dishes to provide flavour. However, this nutrient-packed clove isn’t just for spicing up dishes; it is a superfood in its own right, with plenty of disease-fighting characteristics. Eating garlic regularly can lower blood pressure and is a powerful aid in the prevention of heart disease. The selenium contained in garlic has been shown to help prevent certain forms of cancer, such as stomach or colon cancer, and garlic oil is thought to provide protection against many of the secondary diseases often suffered by diabetics. This Superfood might leave you with bad breath, but the rest of your body will thank you.
4 – Salmon
It’s about time some meat showed up on this list of the top 10 superfoods. I mean, some of us need to satisfy our inner carnivores. Salmon is delicious and can be prepared in many different ways to add some variety. One of the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, this oily fish, of course, has all the disease-fighting health benefits that Omega 3s provide. It is also a great source of protein, essential to providing energy and building muscle, and is rich in calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.
3 – Red Beans
All legumes are good for you, but this little bean tops the list when it comes to antioxidant content, a critical component in aiding disease prevention. Not only are they loaded with antioxidants, but they are a fantastic source of both protein and soluble fibre, key in lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Though they might make you a little gassy, it is worth your while to include these in your diet on a regular basis.
2 – Broccoli
I must admit I hate the smell of this particular Superfood when it is cooking, but I can’t deny the health benefits these greens pack in their florets. Packed with vitamins A and B, beta carotene, folic acid, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium, this humble little veggie has an astounding array of our daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. Research shows that broccoli also contains powerful antioxidants that help prevent cancer and heart disease. Despite all this nutritional punch, broccoli contains very few calories, making it ideal for those trying to lose weight.
1 – Blueberries
Who would have thought a food as tiny and unassuming as the blueberry would sit at the number one spot of the top 10 superfoods? But this little miracle berry is so loaded with antioxidants and other nutritional benefits it is certainly deserving of the title. Chock full of vitamin C and soluble fibre, they pack a nutritional punch. Blueberries are also shown to prevent cancer memory loss, reduce the signs of ageing, and prevent urinary tract infections. The best part of all, they are delicious! Parents will have no problem getting their kids to feast on these tasty little berries. Getting them to stop might be the greater challenge.