Superfoods are trending in the health and wellness community for good reason. The benefits of superfoods have long been associated with improvement in brain cognition, heart health, and the prevention of various diseases, including evidence that they may help to prevent cancer.
Superfoods are mostly plant-based foods, in addition to some fish, that are nutrient-dense, making them extra healthy. Superfoods typically have some combination of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which ultimately provide the ultimate in immune-boosting qualities.
While superfoods don’t have a technical food group designation, the term is widely used to designate a group of foods that have a higher nutrient density than others.
Here are our top 11 superfoods and why you might want to include them in your meal planning this week!
Goji berries (Lycium barbarum fruit) are a popular medicinal fruit and have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. Goji berries are rich in all eight essential amino acids. They possess other immune-boosting nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, zinc, and fiber.
The berries are unique in their slightly tart, slightly sweet taste. They’re often sold in packages and dried since fresh goji berries are rare due to their delicate nature and limited areas for growth.
Goji berries are extremely versatile and are utilized by many leaders in the health and wellness space such as Herbalife Nutrition.
Acai berries are arguably the newest addition to the antioxidant-rich berry choices.
Tracing their origins to the Amazon jungle, acai berries are believed to have the most antioxidants per ounce of any berry.
While fresh acai berries are rare to find outside of Central and South America, it’s easy to buy them (and relatively inexpensive) from the frozen food aisle at your local market. They’re also often sold as a juice or puree that’s delicious to add to your morning cereal or yogurt.
Keeping with our berry recommendations, blueberries make our list for being one of the most accessible superfoods. They also possess some of the most nutritional benefits. Similar in nutrient density to acai berries, blueberries are very high in antioxidants. They’re also rich in flavonoids, vitamin C, and potassium—the vitamins and minerals a body needs to feel healthier, active, and potentially prevent disease.
Blueberries are so impressive that having one cup of them a week has been linked to lowering blood pressure and possibly improving metabolism, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Studies have also shown that blueberries are can prevent some cancers when they’re a regular part of a balanced diet.
Blueberries are available year-round in the frozen food section and even dried. Because they provide an added boost of antioxidants and metabolism-boosting benefits, organic blueberries are a delicious addition to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal if you are on meal programs such as those recommended by Herbalife Nutrition or other similar brands.
Almonds make our list of superfoods because they are believed to be the most nutrient-dense nut on the planet.
Just one ounce of almonds (about 1 – 6 almonds) can contain 14% of the daily fiber recommendation. Almonds are rich in iron, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium.
Almonds have also been linked to a mindset of overall healthy eating. When tossed in a salad or toasted as part of a dinner dish, almonds can help you feel motivated to stick with your plan and continue to make other healthy eating and exercise choices.
Spirulina and Chlorella
Chlorella and spirulina are algae and have been around for billions of years. Believe it or not, these little organisms were around at the time of the dinosaurs and are believed to be among the first life forms on Earth.
Spirulina can grow nearly anywhere, from the most extreme temperatures to the highest elevations. Chlorella, on the other hand, is primarily grown in Japan and Taiwan and has been used in Japanese cuisine for centuries.
Here’s why these two green beauties make our list of superfoods:
Spirulina is made of about 55-70% protein, which is more than beef, chicken, and soybeans, making it an excellent vegan alternative protein source and one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.
Fun fact about spirulina: After World War II, health officials planned for the algae to be a worldwide food replacement when fears of a food shortage were running rampant.
Chlorella can self-reproduce, making it a self-sustainable superfood. It’s also ridiculously rich in protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B, and other antioxidants.
To add chlorella and spirulina into your health regimen is easy as taking a daily supplement or adding a scoop of the powdered version to one of your protein or meal shakes.
Just be sure to double-check for any additives to make sure the spirulina and chlorella are pure.
Broccoli rabe is actually a member of the turnip family, while Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family.
While these veggie cousins share a name and share many similarities, broccoli rabe is actually one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet. It’s chock full of vitamins A, C, and K as well as fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium and is also rich in antioxidant power-mineral lutein, believed to prevent damage to your retinas.
Broccoli rabe is rich in calcium, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension and inflammation.
Broccoli rabe is an excellent addition to your dinner as a side dish baked, roasted, sautéed in olive oil, or steamed.
There’s a reason there are so many dark, leafy greens on our list. The dark green color of vegetables is indicative of well-known health properties.
Kale is super dense in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and is also rich with essential amino acids. High and fiber and low in calories, kale is a perfect addition to any weight-management program.
Kale went through a bit of a trend but remained a popular superfood for several reasons. Cooked kale is rich in more iron per ounce than red meat! Chopped frozen kale is great to toss into a smoothie or sauce, and seasonal varieties of kale are available year-round.
Green tea is a lightly caffeinated drink that possesses a wealth of medicinal and health benefits.
Originally sourced from China, green tea is now grown widely around the world. It’s rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds that have been linked to anti-inflammatory benefits.
Green tea is especially rich in an antioxidant known as catechin epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is believed to be the compound that makes green tea a superfood. This antioxidant has been linked to protecting against chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Spices are superfoods, too, and one of the fastest and easiest ways to up the nutritional impact of your meal plan.
Turmeric is linked to being able to decrease inflammation naturally. In countries where turmeric is regularly used in cooking (such as in India and some Southeast Asian countries), studies have shown that there is a significant reduction in diagnosed cases of cancer.
Turmeric is comprised of the chemical compound, curcumin, which has a lot of benefits and it is easily added to spices, curries, teas, and even tossed into a smoothie for a bright, vibrant gold color! The color is about all that changes, as it’s an incredibly mild spice that tends to complement other spices and flavorings that it’s paired with.
Another essential superfood spice is cinnamon.
Cinnamon is sourced from the bark of the cinnamon trees of Sri Lanka or Indonesia. Cinnamon is one of the most common household superfoods that you may not have realized you already include in your diet!
Cinnamon is a perfect addition to include in your health plan. Cinnamon contains the most antioxidant properties of any spice – and that includes garlic and oregano, which have long been proposed to be super antioxidant-rich spices.
Cinnamon has also been linked to Alzheimer’s prevention.
The natural “warming” elements of cinnamon have been linked to reducing body fat, speeding up metabolism, and helping to increase a lean body mass.
Sprinkle some in your morning coffee or tea, add it to your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt—or toss a pinch into your Herbalife Nutrition shake for an extra boost of metabolism-boosting properties.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contains 17 grams of protein per ounce, making it a complete superfood protein that’s worth having at least once a week.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to preventing cardiovascular disease. According to this study, there is a link between having two servings per week to the prevention of heart disease later in life.
There are some risks around-consuming certain types of salmon, as farm-raised has been linked to a higher toxicity level. If you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s essential to limit fish and shellfish to 12 ounces per week to reduce exposure to mercury to your baby.
Frozen, wild-caught salmon is easy to find in most grocer’s freezers and are easy to defrost and bake.
Caution for Super-loading on Superfoods
Before you add any of these superfoods to your program, consult with a natural physician or nutritionist to make sure there are no unintended side effects from combining supplements with other medications. They can also help you determine if you have any conditions that could be exacerbated by the addition of specific vitamins and minerals.
Superfood Nutrition for the Long Haul
For anyone who embarks on a healthy lifestyle, it can be overwhelming to feel the need to include everything. Don’t worry! The superfoods on this list are all easily accessible, and many of them contain the same antioxidants and vitamins in large quantities.
For example, the aforementioned Herbalife Nutrition brand offers products that target many of the same nutrients as the most well-known superfoods, which means you’re sure to get the most balanced nutrition and jumpstart your immune system.
We recommend slowly introducing new superfoods into your meal plan or Herbalife Nutrition shakes. For instance, including salmon with some roasted almonds as a dinner or lunch once a week will provide an abundance of superfood nutrition and is an easy, relatively inexpensive meal to throw together quickly.
Including foods packed with nutrients such as these superfoods is a great idea. Still, ultimately, the key to a healthy weight management program is to consume a variety of nutritious, high-quality foods and spices rich in vitamins, minerals, and immune-boosting antioxidants.
When in combination with a regular exercise routine can provide lifelong health benefits for your body and weight management goals.
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