By: Maile Benumof | Writer
February 28, 2020
Nutritionally speaking, there is no such thing as a superfood. The term was only coined for marketing purposes to sell food products and influence trends. The label of “superfood” is bestowed upon items that are nutrient-rich and have proven health benefits. Although, it is important to remember that no single food will cure all diseases and instantly improve a person’s health. Sustained use of these foods and regularly incorporating them into one’s diet will drastically improve the long term effect of the foods. That being said, here are six superfoods that will provide all the necessary nutrients a person needs:
- Dark leafy greens- Vegetables like arugula, broccoli, kale, and spinach have high levels of necessary vitamins (such as A, C, K, and folate and many of the B vitamins) and minerals (like iron and calcium). Eating greens can promote heart health, decrease cancer risk, and prevention against inflammatory diseases. Their low calorie and carbohydrate content can help with maintaining a healthy body weight and the high dietary fiber aids the digestive system and overall gut health. Easy ways to eat more leafy greens are in salads, sandwiches, and wraps. For breakfast throw them into an omelette or blend them up in a smoothie for an easy way to get a serving of greens.
- Berries- Similar to leafy greens, berries are high in fiber, meaning they are easily digestible and can make weight loss management easier. They are also loaded with antioxidants which help keep free radicals under control, and can cause damage to cells when their numbers become too high. Their antioxidant properties also help fight against cancer causing cells and decrease inflammation. Easy ways to eat more berries are simply by the handful, blended in a smoothie, or are wonderful in a dessert. San Clemente High School senior Ty Connelly said, “I usually freeze berries before putting them into smoothies, and it adds a nice chill.”
- Goji berries- Just like other berries, goji berries are high in antioxidants, and contain about as much vitamin C as a fresh lemon or orange. They also may have anti-aging properties by fighting the free radicals that are damaging to collagen in the skin. It’s thought that goji berry extract could enhance the creation of muscle and liver glycogen, a storage form of glucose that helps you maintain physical activity. Goji berries are wonderful on top of smoothie bowls, in trail mix, and on their own.
- Nuts and seeds- Since they are great sources of protein, eating nuts and seeds is a great option for people who don’t get their protein from meat or animal products. Nuts and seeds are good sources of unsaturated healthy fats. These healthier fats help to prevent heart disease. Regular consumption of nuts is linked to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood and does not lead to weight gain. Eating more nut butters and trail mixes is a perfect way to incorporate this superfood into your diet.
- Whole grains- Eating whole grains, and other foods that are high in fiber, provide a feeling of fullness without the high calorie count of many other overly processed foods. The dietary fiber in whole grains helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. In addition to the basic benefits of grains, they help maintain optimum health due to the phytochemicals they contain – many of which are still being identified. Choosing whole wheat bagels, pasta, and bread, as well as oatmeal in the morning can help you eat more whole grains. SCHS senior Hadley Thorsell says, “Sometimes I like to make my own bread just because I hate how overprocessed some of the brands in the store can be, and I always make sure to buy organic.”
- Legumes- Otherwise known as beans, legumes have become immensely popular among people with vegetarian and vegan diets because they are so high in protein. Protein is one of the harder necessary nutrients to maintain good levels of without the typical meat source, but a diet with high amounts of legumes can easily accomplish this task. They also contain many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy lifestyle. The most common legumes include lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts.