Imagine the polar opposite of Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 document Super Size Me, except this version is called Superfood Me – and instead of eating only McDonald’s for an entire month, he was limited to nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially good for one’s health. This nutritious reboot would probably have quite a different ending, huh?
What’s awesome about this fantasy is that you can try it at home. Rather than indulge in the high-fat, high-carbohydrate processed foods most Americans consume too much of, simply sub in delicious superfoods, like salmon, greens, berries, eggs, oats, and avocado. What’s even better is these superfoods taste so good you won’t miss fast food for a second. Choose superfoods that are easy to add to your diet and have big health impacts that make them all the more yummy. Here’s a quick cheat sheet for why you should be eating each of them on the reg, along with some delectable, (mostly) unintimidating recipes to help make that a reality.
They don’t call salmon a superfood for nothing – it’s chock-full of nutrients that make it one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are termed “essential” because your body can’t create them, you have to get them from your diet. These fatty acids fight inflammation, improve cognitive function, lower your risk of cancer, do all sorts of important stuff for your heart, and even help protect your skin against damage caused by UV rays. Salmon also has a whopping 22–25 grams of protein in a 3.5-ounce serving – half the recommended daily intake for the average sedentary woman. Plus, it’s an excellent source of a handful of B vitamins, vitamin D, and selenium.
Most dark, leafy greens fall under the superfood umbrella, including broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, collard, mustard, and beet greens to name a few. These veggies are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Perhaps most importantly, they contain phytochemicals (health-enhancing plant compounds), which work as antioxidants, protect cells against cancer, and inhibit tumor growth.
The berry family offers another cornucopia of superfood health benefits. There are so many lip-smacking options to choose from, like blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, mulberries, goldenberries, goji, maqui, and açaí berries. They are low in calories but loaded with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They’re anti-inflammatory, promote heart health, and may help prevent (or reduce symptoms of) cancer and other chronic diseases. Darker berries tend to provide more anti-aging properties, as well.
Eggs have gotten a bad rap, but the fact is they’re among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. The bulk of the criticism against eggs is that they contain quite a bit of cholesterol — and while that’s true, they actually raise the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood, don’t have an adverse effect on “bad” LDL cholesterol, and may even help safeguard against strokes. A large egg has just 77 calories, six grams of protein with all nine essential amino acids and is stuffed with vitamins and minerals. Eggs promote brain health and reduce your risk of age-related eye disorders.
To maximize nutritional value, make sure you eat the yolks and shop for omega-3-enriched or pastured eggs, which are the healthiest.
You may be surprised to see lumpy ol’ oats on this list, but they’re actually among the world’s healthiest grains. Oats are full of unique soluble fibers called beta-glucans and are a good source of many vitamins, minerals, and unique plant compounds. Not to mention, whole oats are the way to get avenanthramides, a special group of antioxidants thought to protect against heart disease. Since they’re so filling, they may help you eat fewer calories and lose weight. Oats foster a range of health benefits including lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugar and insulin responses, relieving constipation, and improving immune function.
Avocados aren’t just trendy; they’re an abundant source of nourishment. These delicious “alligator pears,” as they’ve been dubbed, are filled with healthy fats, fiber, and 20 key vitamins and minerals. The fat in avocados aids your body in processing antioxidants and other nutrients from other plant-based foods you eat, so they more than earn their keep. Most people don’t get enough potassium and avocados are an even better source than bananas. They’re heart-healthy, may relieve symptoms of arthritis, and are packed with eye-protecting antioxidants… plus, did we mention how yummy they are?!
We hope this list helps you choose superfoods that are easy to add to your diet and have big health impacts. Our curated recipes are just to get you started – the preparation possibilities for these different foodstuffs are endless, so head to your nearest grocery store, fill your cart, and get on the path to a super you today!