Top 10 Superfoods You Need to Get into Your Diet

Nutrition is one of the most crucial pillars of health you definitely want to focus on if you’re seeking to live a long and healthy life, as it has such a profound impact on your well-being. What you fuel and nourish your body with on a daily basis not only says a lot about the current state of your overall health, but the way it performs and survives once the going gets tough. If you’re used to eating pre-packaged processed and junk foods, which more often than not are deficient in essential nutrients and smothered with artificial chemicals, for the sake of convenience, then easily going down with a cold or infection every now and then may be a familiar scenario for you. On the contrary, a diet of natural wholesome foods, densely packed with an array of remarkable vitamins and minerals, such as superfoods, can give you a well-nourished physique that is strong enough not only to fend off diseases, but to also help you live your life to the fullest. To help you get started, I’ve listed down 10 of my favorite superfoods. Check them out:

 

1. Kale (Borecole)

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Probably one of the healthiest leafy green vegetables you can munch on, kale has been around since the Roman times. Because kale is very easy to grow and even thrives during the cold winter season, its cultivation was highly encouraged in the United Kingdom by the Dig Victory campaign during World War II. Some of the more popular varieties of kale include curly kale, Lacianto kale (dino kale), red Russian kale, redbor kale, and Siberian kale. There are countless ways to enjoy kale. You can cut the smaller, paler green leaves to anchor or mix into fresh garden salad, while the larger, dark greens are great for stir-fries, pizza topping, or soup. You can even indulge in guilt-free kale chips!

 

What Makes It a Superfood?

A single cup of kale can trump a whole week’s worth of other foods as it contains:
684 percent of the daily value of vitamin K
206 percent of the suggested daily amount of vitamin A
134 percent of vitamin C (and even more vitamin C in the Scottish curly-leafvariety)
Kale has been compared to beef, which is known as a “go-to” food for iron, protein, and calcium. It has anti-inflammatory properties linked to the prevention and reversal of certain diseases, which includes arthritis, heart disease, and several autoimmune diseases, at levels not seen in other green vegetables.

 

2. Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum P. Miller)

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A member of the nightshade family, the first species of tomato plants originated in the South American Andes, although its use as a food was initiated by the Mexicans and was spread all throughout the world during the Spanish colonization. There are over a hundred of varieties of tomato – tiny types like grape, plum, and cherry for snacking pleasure; firm, petite Romas good for cooking; and hefty beefsteak, ideal for BLTs and burgers. These plump mouthwatering superfoods can be used in many ways:
sun-dried, fried green, stew, sauce, paste, ketchup, juice, Bruschetta, veggie soup, pizza, salsa, salad… the list goes on and on.


What Makes It a Superfood?

Tomatoes are rich in flavonoids and other phytochemicals that have anti-carcinogenic
properties. One of them is lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and
vegetables like tomatoes and watermelons a pink or red color. More powerful than other
carotenoids, lycopene may significantly reduce your risk of stroke and prostate cancer.
Other lesser known phytonutrients found in tomatoes include:
Flavonols: rutin, kaempferol, and quercetin
Flavonones: naringenin and chalconaringenin
Hydroxycinnamic acids: caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and coumaric acid
Glycosides: esculeoside A
Fatty acid derivatives: 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid

In daily value, tomatoes provide 38 percent vitamin C, 30 percent vitamin A, and 18 percent vitamin K – minus the fat and cholesterol

3. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

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Artichoke is a perennial thistle and is a member of the sunflower family of vegetables. First cultivated in the Mediterranean region, artichokes became scarce after the fall of the Roman Empire. They made a comeback in Italy in the 1500s, and then appeared in the Americas after introduction by French and Spanish gardeners. As of today, California is the largest producer of artichokes in the US.
Some popular types and varieties of artichokes include:
Globe artichokes
Elongated artichokes
Purple baby anzio
Oblong siena
Fiesole artichoke
Chianti
Artichokes can either be steamed and served with a dipping sauce, stuffed with all kinds of savory ingredients like vegetables, lightly steamed then grilled, mixed into salads, and added in stews and other hot dishes.


What Makes It a Superfood?

Artichokes are a good source of fiber, as it supplies at least 28 percent of the recommended daily value. Aside from helping you move waste out of your system regularly, fiber can help also:
Lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels
Prevent inflammation and protect heart health
Reduce your lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol levels
The cynarin in artichokes increases bile production in your liver, which in turn eliminate bad cholesterol from your body. It also offers 25 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which provides antioxidant action to protect cells from damaging free radicals. Vitamin C also supplies collagen to help wounds heal quickly and protects the body from disease by helping it absorb iron.

 

4. Acai berries (Euterpe oleracea)

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Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berries looks like an offspring of a grape and a blueberry with a taste reminiscent of wild berries and chocolate. These tiny, reddish-purple drupes consist of a cluster of seeds, with only 15 percent or so being edible. Native to South America, acai berries are harvested from the tall, slender palm trees found at the basin of the Amazon River.
Although acai berries can be found in large supermarkets and health food stores around the globe, they’re only available as a juice or tea rather than fresh fruits. Because they’re highly perishable, getting acai berries out of the Amazon with their nutrients still intact is nearly impossible. As a food, acai pulp in the tribal Amazon belt is often blended with the starchy root vegetable manioc and eaten as porridge.


What Makes It a Superfood?

Acai is known for its extraordinary antioxidant properties similar to cranberries, but many times more than what is found in blueberries and strawberries. As a matter of fact, the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) values measuring the antioxidant power of acai fruit pulp/skin powder reportedly have the highest ORAC value among fruits and vegetables, or 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes.

This is why it’s not surprising to find that acai berries may help treat:

Diarrhea Parasitic infections
Hemorrhages Ulcers
Erectile dysfunction Inflammation
Arthritis Allergies

Acai berries are low in fructose, but contain excellent amounts of iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. They also contain anthocyanin compounds, such as resveratrol, cyaniding, and ferulic acid, which not only give fruits and vegetables their distinct color, but also team up with flavonoids to defend your body against harmful free radicals.

 

5. Broccoli (Brassica)

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Broccoli is perhaps the most popular member of the cruciferous group of vegetables. The word “broccoli” means “branch” or “arm” for the cross-shaped stems, like mini trees bearing the blossoms.
A valuable vegetable that’s loved by the ancient Romans, broccoli once grew wild on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Its use can be traced to 16th century France and England in the 1700s, with commercial growth beginning in the US in the 1920s.
While there are many ways to prepare and enjoy this superfood – it can be steamed, roasted, baked, sautéed, or stir-fried – broccoli is best eaten raw, as cooking tends to destroy some of its antioxidant components.


What Makes It a Superfood?

Broccoli has twice the vitamin C of an orange, almost as much calcium as whole milk (with a better rate of absorption), and offers anti-cancer and anti-viral properties with its selenium content. Just one cup of broccoli provides over 100 percent of your daily need for vitamin C and vitamin K, and is also a good source of vitamin A, folate, and potassium. Some of the most sought-after health benefits of broccoli include:
Anti-cancer
Anti-inflammatory
Improved digestion and natural detoxification
Cardiovascular support
Protection from chronic diseases
Enhanced bone health

 

6. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

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Considered the most widely cultivated vegetable in the world, cucumber is technically a fruit from the Cucurbitaceae family of gourds, alongside different varieties of pumpkins and melons. Cucumber offers a refreshing flavor that blends beautifully with other fruits and vegetables. It originated in the Mediterranean and was brought to the Americas by European explorers in the 1500s. There are dozens of cucumber varieties thriving in both cool and warm climates, but three of the most prevalent ones are slicing, pickling, and burpless. To get cucumbers into your diet, you can try pickling them or adding them to your salads, juices, and other cooked recipes. Infusing your water with slices of cucumber is another must-try.


What Makes It a Superfood?

Grown wild throughout India, cucumbers are used as a traditional medicine to treat headaches. The seeds have found a niche as a diuretic, and the juice is used as an acne cream and a soothing remedy for tired, puffy eyes. These early uses led scientists to investigate cucumber fruit, seeds, and extracts as an effective treatment in other areas of medicine. Although it’s actually 90 percent water, cucumber doesn’t skimp on nutritional value. It’s an excellent source of:
Anti-inflammatory vitamin K
Infection-fighting vitamin C
Energy-producing pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
Bone-building manganese
Heart-healthy potassium and magnesium
Recent studies also reveal that cucumbers also have lignans, the unique polyphenols in crucifers and alliums, such as cabbage and onions, known to lower heart disease risk. In cucumbers, these powerful lignans bind with estrogen-related bacteria in the digestive tract, contributing to a reduced risk of several cancers, including breast, uterus, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Other phytonutrients in cucumbers called cucurbitacins – part of a larger group known as triterpenes – are also known to strongly inhibit cancer cell development.

 

7. Avocado (Persea Americana)

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Avocado is a cousin to cinnamon, camphor, bay laurel, and other members of the Lauraceae family. Spanish conquistadors had their own historian, Oviedo, who reported positively about avocados
discovered in Mexico around 1519. But this interesting fruit has graced Central and South America for perhaps 10,000 years, according to the avocado-inspired drawings and artifacts found in early Aztec settlements. A judge from Santa Barbara took the first Mexican avocado trees to California in 1871. California now grows 90 percent of the US avocado crop in more than 6,000 groves.


What Makes It a Superfood?

When it comes to nutrition, avocados are a different breed, because of the extraordinarily huge quantity of benefits they offer. Loaded with fiber, a single avocado contains:
36 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin K
30 percent for the folate
20 percent each of the daily requirements for vitamins B5, B6, C, and potassium
More importantly, avocado is one of the few fruits that will provide you with “good” fats, which means it can help keep your cholesterol levels already in the healthy range and help lower your risk for heart disease.

 

8. Sprouts

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Sprouts are the edible germinated seeds of flowers, beans, legumes, vegetables, or grains. Sprouts deserve to be called a superfood not only because they can be grown effortlessly and inexpensively, but also because they contain exceptional amounts of vitamins and minerals, sometimes way beyond what a mature plant can offer.

This is because when sprouting seeds, nuts, beans, and grains you get:
Higher amounts of vitamins and enzymes
Increased essential fatty acid and fiber content
Increased bioavailability of minerals and protein
A rising superstar in the raw food community, sprouts are typically eaten raw and added in salads, juices, sandwiches, and other recipes.


What Makes It a Superfood?

Despite their size, sprouts should never be underestimated. These little edibles are a powerhouse of nutrients. For instance, sunflower sprouts and pea shoots are known to be up to 30 times more nutritious compared to organic vegetables. Here are a few more sprout options you can choose from and some of the nutrients they have in store for you:
Alfalfa – vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K
Wheatgrass – vitamins B, C, and E
Mung bean – protein, fiber, and vitamins C and A
Lentil sprouts – 26 percent protein and can be eaten without cooking
Brussels sprouts – fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, B vitamins, antioxidants, and other health-promoting phytochemicals

 

9. Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil is the edible oil extracted from the white meat of mature coconuts. It is most commonly used in many tropical countries, particularly in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines, where coconut trees thrive well. Because of the coconut’s innumerable health and wellness boons, coconut oil and other coconut products, such as coconut water, are gaining popularity in the West. Aside from being an ideal oil to use in all forms of cooking and baking (because it can withstand high temperatures without being damaged like many other oils), coconut oil can also be drizzled over salads, added in coffee or vegetable juices, or taken as is once or twice daily.

 

What Makes It a Superfood?

Coconut oil is an ideal replacement for non-vegetable carbohydrates, because it is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are easily digested and readily cross cell membranes. These MCFAs are immediately converted by your liver into energy rather than being stored as fat. Coconut oil also has potent antimicrobial properties, which make it a powerful destroyer of all kinds of microbes, from viruses, to bacteria, to protozoa. Coconut oil also helps:
Promote heart health
Support proper thyroid function
Promote healthy brain function
Strengthen your immune system
Provide an excellent “fuel” for your body
Support a strong metabolism that can aid in weight loss
Maintain healthy and youthful looking skin

 

10.Homemade Bone Broth


Bone broth is made with bones and sometimes a small amount of meat adhering to the bones of different kinds of animal meat – whether it’s beef, chicken, or fish. It’s typically simmered for a significant period of time, which can sometimes even go beyond as 24 hours, to produce a gelatinous soup. Basically, the more gelatinous the bone broth, the more nourishing it tends to be. The collagen that leaches out of the bones when slow-cooked is one of the key ingredients that make broth so healing. A timeless superfood, according to Dr. Kaayla Daniel, vice president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and co-author (with Sally Fallon Morell) of the book Nourishing Broth, bone broth goes back to the Stone Age, when they were actually cooking broth in turtle shells and in skins over the fire. The great Greek physician Hippocrates was also known to be a big believer in its benefits.

Today, Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant is among those who swear by bone broth and who believes it has kept his NBA career sustainable, having it as a foundation of his pre-game meals. “I’ve been doing the bone broth for a while now. It’s great [for] energy and inflammation. It’s great,” the NBA star reportedly said in one of his interviews with ESPN.

What Makes It a Superfood?

Bone broth contains a variety of valuable nutrients of which many Americans are usually lacking, in a form your body can easily absorb and use, such as:
Calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals
Components of collagen and cartilage
Silicon and other trace minerals
Components of bone and bone marrow
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
The “conditionally essential” amino acids proline, glycine, and glutamine
Still not convinced? These additional health perks brought by bone broth might change your mind:
Reduces joint pain and inflammation
Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses
Fights inflammation
Promotes strong, healthy bones
Promotes healthy hair and nail growth