The Power of Superfoods
Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.
There is no formal definition for “superfoods.” It’s a marketing buzz word to describe foods believed to provide health benefits beyond their basic nutrient content. Superfoods have been associated with prevention of certain diseases, as well as promoting longevity, a healthy weight and vitality.
Part of your daily diet
There are many superfoods that are important to include in your daily diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. As with many things, moderation is important. Every diet should include not just superfoods, but a variety of foods to get the basic nutrients your body needs.
So what foods are among the healthiest of the healthy?
Top 5 superfoods
- Fish is a great source of lean protein. Salmon, trout and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may help to lower triglycerides, increase your good cholesterol (HDL), help lower blood pressure, and promote brain and heart health. Try to consume 2-3 servings of fish per week.
- Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein, fiber and healthy fats. They will lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and add flavor and texture to your food. Some of the best heart-healthy nuts are walnuts, pistachios and almonds.
- Herbs and spices are very rich in antioxidants and lower the risk of high blood pressure. They are good sources of calcium, iron, vitamin A and C, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc and dietary fiber. They can make your food taste great and reduce the need to add salt to your meals. Use a wide variety of spices such as cinnamon, oregano, parsley, basil or turmeric.
- Berries are a great boost to the immune system. They help decrease inflammation and are a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants. There are many different types of berries to enjoy, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
- Leafy greens are a great source of fiber, calcium, iron and vitamin K. They reduce inflammation, which helps maintain a healthy weight in the body as well. Some of the common leafy greens are spinach, kale, collards and arugula. Greens are loaded with cancer-fighting compounds and flavonoids. There are many different ways to prepare and enjoy the great flavor of greens, such as baking, roasting, grilling or sautéing.
When you eat a more natural, less processed diet you will see positive effects on your physical and emotional health. A healthy diet will not only reduce the risk of chronic diseases, but also will improve your mood and overall quality of life.
A great way to upgrade your plate are to eat plenty of vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and eat fruit for dessert instead of sugary sweets. Some of the most powerful tools to combat and prevent inflammation, disease and illness come from your local grocery store or better yet, farmer’s market – not the pharmacy.
Make a conscious effort to fill up on nutrient-rich foods for more energy and to live a longer, healthier life. When you treat “food as medicine” you will be amazed at how much better it makes you feel, look and live.
If you have questions about how to incorporate nutrient-rich foods into your diet, speak with your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider or a Methodist dietitian.