“Superfood” is a popular buzzword in the media these days because superfoods contain several nutrients that may prevent cancers and heart disease. They also play a role in stress management, eye and vision health, skin health, and even weight management.
So…what makes a food a “superfood,” and what does it mean to be “super?” Super nutritious? Super convenient? Super disease-fighting? Super tasty? The answer: YES, to all the above.
Superfoods are simply foods that have more concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals than other comparable whole foods.
- Vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients the body needs to metabolize food, make energy, and support vital biological systems.
- Antioxidants fight free radicals and other disease-causing agents that could potentially cause atherosclerosis and cancer.
- Phytochemicals are non-nutritive biological active plant chemicals that play an important role preventing disease.
Superfoods have one or more phytonutrients and usually are fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.
Many people take a multivitamin or other supplement to fill any gaps in their vitamin and mineral intake in case their diet is lacking. Incorporating superfoods into a balanced diet can ensure you get all the essential nutrients you need from a whole real food source (which is always better!) Plus, if you are worried your budget and time don’t allow for healthy eating habits, think again! Superfoods can be quick and ready to eat without needing a lot of preparation.
Check out these ideas for 7 days of superfoods!
Monday: Start your week off right with some tasty blueberries. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Additionally, research has found that eating blueberries may increase your body’s natural killer cells to improve immune function. Mix them in with your favorite yogurt or cereal, or freeze them for a fun summer treat. Shopping for blueberries in the summer during their peak season will keep you on budget.
Tuesday: Fish taco Tuesday anyone? Fish such as salmon is rich in Vitamin B12 and the healthy-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids minimize inflammation that can lead to heart disease. High levels of cortisone and other stress hormones may cause inflammation as well, so, fight your stress with fish! If you don’t have the time or budget for salmon, try sardines on top of your lunch salad.
Wednesday: Avocados are just what you need to get you through hump day. Also loaded with B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, avocados will you keep you feeling full longer, so you will be prepared to stave off the afternoon munchies. Slice some up over whole wheat toast for the perfect afternoon snack.
Thursday: Barley-not just for beer! Barley has more fiber than any other whole grain; 32 grams per cup! Research has proven time and again that fiber may help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugars, promote regularity, and even support weight management. Not to mention the texture is really amazing. Add to your soups for a fun mouth feel!
Friday: Gear up for the weekend with the super foods spinach and kale! Spinach has more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin K in just one cup, and kale is filled with Vitamins A and C. Both contain a carotenoid called lutein that supports vision and may prevent macular degeneration. New research supports increasing lutein intake during pregnancy to facilitate healthy vision development in fetuses. Make a chopped salad with both types of greens or add them to a “green” smoothie.
Saturday: Indulge in a (little) dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has flavanols and antioxidants to fight heart disease by lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow. Get your sweetie’s heart pounding with a delicious date night treat of dark chocolate pieces and pears.
Sunday: Have an afternoon tea party! There is solid evidence that tea consumption is associated with lower risk for heart disease and stroke. Tea is calorie free and there are over 3,000 varieties of tea worldwide. Tea is a perfect substitute for high calorie sweetened beverages if you don’t want to give up your flavored beverages and are trying to watch your calories.