52 Superfoods Benefits

superfoods for optimal body function With the current price of grocery items today, consumers are left with no choice but to settle for less. The trade goes something like “if you want good quality and nutritious food, you have to pay more.” However, have you tried these superfoods for optimal body function lately? Not only are they cheaper, they may even help alleviate some of your sickness. Take these foods into consideration and see for yourself.

In previous centuries, infection was the main cause of death. Now, chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are the leading causes of death. How can you reduce your risk of these diseases, you may ask? Well, read on about the powerful effect of these superfoods!

Acai berry

Acai berry is popular for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering effects. Its antioxidant activity is mainly due to the presence of anthocyanins, which are phytochemicals (non-nutrient substances found in plants that are beneficial for your health).

Acai berry can also lower your blood glucose. A study found that overweight people who drank 200 g per day of acai berry juice for one month reduced their blood glucose and total cholesterol levels compared to those who didn’t. In fact, they reduced them to a point where they were 58% less likely to become diabetic. Talk about superfood power!

Tip: Unlike orange juice, pure acai berry juice tends to be bitter and lacks vitamin C. Try mixing it with orange juice to sweeten the taste, and increase the vitamin C content.

Almonds

Coming in at 169 calories, a 1.0 oz. serving (22 whole kernels) of dry roasted almonds provides 13% of your daily fiber needs and 12% of your protein needs. It is an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and manganese, and a good source of phosphorus, riboflavin and copper. Magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese are both important for bone health, while vitamin E acts as an antioxidant.

Almonds are high in fat, though most of it is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which are fats responsible for lowering cholesterol. Apart from lowering cholesterol, almonds help reduce blood sugar and blood pressure. Since almonds are high in calories, portion control may be necessary.

Tip: Grab a few almonds for the next time you need a quick snack!

Apples

At less than 100 calories, a medium apple is a fiber powerhouse, providing 17% of your daily fibre needs. No wonder the saying goes “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”! High fiber foods not only prevent constipation, they may also prevent colon cancer. They may help prevent colon cancer by diluting, binding and quickly removing agents that cause cancer from the colon. Also, soluble fibers which are found in apples cause the production of short chain fatty acids. These substances are responsible for activating cancer-killing enzymes and reducing inflammation in the colon.

Evidence also suggests that apples may help prevent heart disease, asthma, diabetes, lung cancer, and obesity. This is because apples contain high levels of phytochemicals such as polyphenols and flavonols. Studies show that regularly eating one or more apples a day may reduce your risk of lung and colon cancer.

Remember to eat the peel as well! The peels of apples are particularly high in phenolics. Phenolics are phytochemicals which cause enzymes to make carcinogens dissolve in water so they are easier to get rid of.

Tip: Eat an apple a day! It is just what the doctor ordered.

Artichokes

At only 60 calories, one medium artichoke provides 28% of your daily fiber needs, 25% of your vitamin C needs, 24% of your vitamin K needs and 22% of your folate needs. Quite the nutritional powerhouse! Vitamin C strengthens your resistance to infection, acts as an antioxidant, makes collagen which is important for skin health, and performs other roles in the body.

Notably, artichokes help protect the liver. Cynarin and caffeoylquinic acids are the phytochemicals believed to be mainly responsible for protection of the liver from toxic agents. In fact, in the 1960s, cynarin was successfully marketed in mainstream medicine as a liver-protecting substance!

Tip: Serve a boiled artichoke with a tasty dip as a main course. Your liver may thank you!

Asparagus

Coming in at just under 20 calories, ½ a cup of boiled asparagus provides 7% of your fiber needs, 57% of your daily vitamin K needs and 34% of your folate needs. In addition, it is a good source of thiamin, vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin K helps your blood clot, while folate is used to make DNA important for making new cells.

Asparagus also contains fructooligosaccharides, which are carbohydrates made of short chain fructose molecules. Fructooligosaccharides are great prebiotics since they cause good bacteria to grow in the intestines and decrease constipation. They also improve the absorption of minerals and lower blood cholesterol.

Tip: Coat some asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt, and lemon and roast in the oven for a good side dish.

Avocados

One cup of sliced avocados contains only 1g of sugar, yet provides a whopping 39% of your daily fiber needs. It also provide 24% of your vitamin C needs, 38% of your vitamin K needs, and many other nutrients. Avocados tend to get a bad rap because of their high fat content. However, 79% of the fat is unsaturated fat, which is the good fat important for heart health. Avocados are nutritionally unique among fruits in that they are lower in sugar and higher in fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids (heart healthy fats).

Due to their nutrient density, avocados are recommended for infants as a complement to breast milk, and as they transition to solid foods. They are a great alternative to common fruits consumed by infants due to the low sugar content, great texture and consistency.

Tip: Try having mashed avocado on toast for breakfast. You may have a new breakfast favorite!

Bananas

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium … a single banana provides 23% of your daily potassium needs. Potassium keeps muscles in working order and prevents muscle spasms. Research also shows it can decrease your blood pressure if you are deficient in potassium and prevent strokes. Bananas could save your life! Hospital inpatients usually have low blood potassium, which may cause life threatening conditions such as irregular heart-beat. Potassium supplementation using bananas has been shown to be as effective as oral potassium salt supplements, and patients like them better.

Tip: Try having a banana in a nice fruit salad. Your heart and taste buds will thank you!

Beets

A ½ cup serving of boiled beets provides you with 7% of your fiber needs, 17% of your folate needs, and 14% of your manganese needs, all for only 37 calories! Folate helps make DNA which is important in forming new cells.Beets may help prevent high and treat high blood pressure. They may also be helpful in treating disorders that involve inflammation. They are a rich source of phytochemicals including ascorbic acid, carotenoids, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. Beets are also one of the only vegetables to contain a potent pigment known as betalain, which is shown to have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities.

Tip: The next time you have a barbecue, put some beets on the grill and make a nice grilled beet salad.

Beans

Beans of all varieties are a great source of nutrients. They tend to be high in fiber, and are a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans. Also, they are one of the only plant foods that yield the essential amino acid lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid that the body needs from the diet to make protein.Beans are antioxidant-rich and have many benefits for health. Research shows that diets which include beans reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, clinical research show that when you eat beans, you decrease your postprandial (post eating) blood sugar levels.

Tip: Replace some of your meat dishes with bean dishes.

Blackcurrants

At 71 calories, 1 cup of black currants provides a staggering 338% of your vitamin C needs! It is also a good source of potassium, manganese and iron.Black currants are also rich sources of anthocyanins, which are natural pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Research shows that black currants may help prevent inflammation that causes heart disease, cancer and infections. Also, the anthocyanins in black currants have been shown to be beneficial for eye conditions such as open-angle glaucoma.

Tip: Switch up your sauces by serving black currant sauce to accompany your turkey for the holidays.

Blueberries

Coming in at 84 calories, 1 cup of blueberries provides 14% of your daily fiber needs, 24% of your vitamin C needs, 36% of your vitamin K needs, and 25% of your manganese needs.Blueberries protect against eye disease by improving the delivery of blood and oxygen to the eye and getting rid of free radicals, which lead to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. Blueberries also protect the bones and have anti-diabetic properties. Additionally, they may be helpful in reducing blood pressure and blood cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease.

Tip: Sprinkle some blueberries on your morning cereal or oatmeal!

Bok choy

Bok choy also known as Chinese cabbage gives you a Chinese yuan for your money. Coming in at 20 calories, 1 cup of boiled shredded bok choy provides you with 7% of your daily fiber needs, 144% of your vitamin A needs, 74% of your vitamin C needs and 72% of your vitamin K needs. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, and manganese.As a cruciferous vegetable, bok choy is a rich source of phytochemical glucosinolates and their products, indoles, and isothiocyanates. Glucosinolates inhibit cancer-causing enzymes and increase the production of enzymes which detoxify carcinogens. High intake of cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy has been linked with a decreased risk of lung and colon cancer.

Tip: Make yourself some hot bok choy soup for those cold winter days.

Broccoli

At only 27 calories, ½ a cup of boiled, chopped broccoli provides 10% of your daily fiber needs, 138% of your Vitamin K needs and 84% of your vitamin C needs. It is also an excellent source of folate.Broccoli is an excellent source of phytochemicals such as glucosinolates and their by-products, and phenolics. Consuming broccoli regulates enzymes and controls apoptosis, which is the way the body gets rid of abnormal cells such as cancerous cells. Several studies have shown that broccoli may reduce your risk of developing various forms of cancer.

Tip: Toss broccoli with salt and olive oil, and roast them in the oven.

Brussel sprouts

Coming in at 28 calories, ½ a cup of boiled brussel sprouts provides 8% of your daily fiber needs, 81% of your daily vitamin C needs and 137% of your vitamin K needs. It is also a good source of vitamin A and folate.Brussel sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable. Research shows that consuming these types of vegetables help prevent cancer, in particular lung and gastro-intestinal cancers. Brussel sprouts contain glucosinolate by-products such as isothiocyanates and nitriles which cause apoptosis, resulting in cancer prevention. Combining brussel sprouts with other cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, cabbage and kale, may lead to maximum protection from cancer.

Tip: Combine brussel sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, olive oil, salt, and mushrooms and place in the oven to make a tasty hot salad.

Chia seeds

There is a good reason chia seeds are a popular superfood. At 137 calories, 1 oz. of dried chia seeds provides you with 42% of your daily fibre needs! It also provides 27% of your phosphorus needs and 30% of your manganese needs. Chia seeds in particular are an important source of nutrition for those on plant-based diets. A 1 oz. serving provides 9% of your daily protein needs, and a surprising 18% of your calcium needs (about half the calcium content of a cup of milk). Also, it is an excellent source of omega 3s; a 1 oz. serving provides 4915 mg of omega 3. Omega 3 lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, and may protect against arthritis, autoimmune disease and cancer.

Tip: Top your smoothies with a sprinkle of chia seeds or make a chia seed pudding for breakfast.

Dark chocolate

At 168 calories, a 1 oz. bar of dark chocolate containing 70-85% cocoa provides 12% of your daily fiber needs, 19% of your iron needs, 25% of your copper needs, and 28% of your manganese needs. Copper is crucial for the absorption and use of iron to make hemoglobin. Dark chocolate is a rich source of phytochemical flavonoids which may reduce your risk of stroke by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. Flavonoids also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Tip: If you have a sweet tooth, feel free to indulge yourself with dark chocolate. Limit yourself to 1 oz. of chocolate a day as chocolate is high in fat and calories.

Ginger

At only two calories per teaspoon, ginger is a great low calorie way to add taste to your foods. Ginger also reduces nausea symptoms in pregnancy and has no side effects, making it a safe option for. Ginger is commonly used as a home remedy to treat different gastric problems such as constipation, indigestion, belching, bloating and ulcers, and science backs these uses. Ginger’s effectiveness in treating these problems may be due to its antioxidant properties, and its ability to get rid of free radicals.

Tip: Looking for a way to reduce your intake of salt? Try seasoning some of your meals with ginger instead of salt.

Cranberry

Nutritionally, 1 cup of unsweetened cranberry juice provides 39% of your daily vitamin C needs, while 1 cup of raw chopped cranberries provides 20% of your fiber needs.Cranberries are full of polyphenols such as flavonoids and ellagic acid, and rank high among polyphenol-rich drinks such as green tea and red wine. Cranberries have been associated with improving cardiovascular health. Clinical research has shown that cranberry juice consumption may reduce your risk for heart disease.

Tip: Have cranberry juice as one of your juices of choice.

Eggs

Eggs have received a bad rap in the past for their high cholesterol and saturated fat content. However, many researchers and doctors now believe that eating cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs may not cause high cholesterol. Likewise, research has shown that saturated affect has a neutral effect on heart health.Eggs are good sources of nutrients particularly for vegetarians. One large hard-boiled egg provides 13% of your protein needs, 9% of your vitamin B12 needs, and 22% of your selenium needs. Vitamin B12 is important for nerve health as it helps to maintain nerve cells. Vitamin B12 is special among the vitamins in that the active form (useful form) of the vitamin is not found in plants. It is only found in animal and animal-derived foods.

Tip: Add a sliced boiled egg to your salad or have a boiled egg for breakfast.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is one of the richest plant-based sources of omega 3s, which are useful for inflammation. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed provides 1597mg of omega. Flaxseed also contains fibre and antioxidant lignans. These 3 compounds combined together may be helpful for patients with heart disease. In a large scale study , patients (110 in total), who ate various foods containing 30 g of milled flaxseed over a 6 month period greatly reduced their pressures compared to the control(those who did not eat flaxseed). Their systolic blood pressure was 10mm Hg lower and diastolic blood pressure was 7mm Hg lower compared to the control group. This study was remarkable as flaxseed produced one of the strongest blood pressure lowing effects achieved in a dietary study.

Tip: Add ground flaxseed to your baked goods or in a homemade dressing. The seed has a pleasant nutty taste.

Goji berry

A 1 oz. serving of goji berries provides 50% of your vitamin A needs. It also provide other nutrients including protein, thiamin, calcium, fiber, and vitamin C.Goji berries are important in treating diabetes-related complications. In particular, they have been shown to be helpful for patients with diabetic retinopathy. The polysaccharides, flavonoids, and carotenoids in goji berries may be contribute to this effect.

These berries have only been introduced in Western countries for a while; however, if we look at countries like Tibet and China, they have been using it for hundreds of years now. They are consumed raw most of the time, but other alternatives include making it into a tea or adding it as an ingredient to most dishes. Goji berries are small and chewy fruits, and they taste like cranberries with a little bit of cherry. This superfood is said to have the highest amount of antioxidants as compared to the other fruits out there. Also, the sugars that make these berries sweet also decreases the body’s resistance to insulin; thus, making it perfect for people struggling with diabetes.This powerhouse fruit is packed with all of the amino acid our body needs. Aside from being loaded with Vitamin C, it is also high in carotenoids, which is essential for clear eyesight. This little fruit has anti-inflammatory properties, which eliminates the risk of cellular damage.

Tip: Add goji berries to your favorite trail mix.

Grapes

Grapes are a very good sources of vitamin K. One cup of red or green grapes contains 28% of your vitamin K needs. Healthier blood sugar levels have been linked with consuming grapes. They are beneficial for keeping your blood glucose because they have a low glycemic index (a scale that rates carbohydrate-containing foods by how much they raise blood sugar levels), around 43 to 53. This ensures a slow and steady release of glucose, resulting in healthier blood sugar levels. Grapes may also help to maintain heart health and protect you against age-related diseases, neurodegenerative disease and some cancers. Grapes contain resveratrol, catechins, anthocyanins, polyphenols and flavonols, which are believed to work together to produce grapes’ health benefits.

Tip: Have some grapes for a filling, tasty snack.

Hemp seeds

A 1 oz. serving of hemp seeds provides 5% of your fiber needs and 21% of your daily protein needs. It is also rich in magnesium and zinc, and is a good source of iron.Hempseed also contains high amounts of arginine, an amino acid used to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been shown to be important for heart health and blood pressure control. Research suggests that you may reduce your risk for heart disease by eating arginine-rich foods like hempseed.

This herb has always found it hard to “break free” from the bad reputation of its close relative, marijuana. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that there is more to it than what we already know. Raw hemp, when combined with our everyday food, is seen to have a lot of health benefits. These health benefits include aiding in weight loss, improving the blood circulation, and even a quicker recovery time to any kind of injury. Whether you choose to take it by seed or in powdered form, these are just some of the benefits you’ll get:If combined with the food you eat, the protein and fiber present in the plant can slow down your digestion; thus, it helps in regulating one’s blood sugar.Hemp seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acid. Therefore, it is proven to help with cardiovascular diseases, and even with Alzheimer’s.The Omega-6 fatty acids found in hemp can also aid in the development of hair and skin.Many people use Hemp Seed Oil as its very concentrated.

Tip: Toss hempseed on your salad to make it even more heart-healthy

Jalapeno Pepper

One jalapeno pepper contains only 4 calories yet provides 10% of your vitamin C needs! Jalapenos also have other nutrients such as vitamins A, K, and B6, iron, potassium and manganese.

Tip: Use jalapenos to spice up your sauces and chilies. Your taste buds and waist line may thank you!

Kale

One cup of boiled kale provides 10% of your daily fibre needs, 354% your vitamin A needs, 89% of your vitamin C needs, and 1328% of your vitamin K needs!Kale ranked 15th in a Centers for Disease Control study which ranked 47 “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables. That is quite impressive given that the criteria for being on the list was that one serving provided at least 10% of 17 essential nutrients, and that the food was strongly linked with decreasing the risk of heart disease and other non-infectious diseases. Kale is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, and contains good quantities of fibre which prevent your blood sugar from rising too much after a meal. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable. Research shows that consuming these types of vegetables help prevent cancer, in particular lung and gastro-intestinal cancers.

Tip: Have a kale salad, or if you are craving chips, try kale chips instead!

Kiwi

Kiwi is a very nutritious, low-calorie fruit. At only 46 calories, one medium peeled kiwi provides 117% of your daily vitamin C needs and 38% of your vitamin K needs. Compared with other popular fruit, kiwi are very high in vitamins C, E, K, folate, carotenoids, potassium, fibre and phytochemicals which act together to achieve many health benefits.Kiwi may increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), and reduce triglycerides, and high blood pressure. Eating gold kiwi improves iron deficiency, and green kiwi helps with digestion and constipation. Kiwi may also improve your immune function and decrease the number and severity of cold and flu-like illnesses. Kiwi is also useful as a prebiotic.Kiwi also contains serotonin, which is helpful in treating sleep disorders. In clinical research, kiwi has been shown to improve sleep quality in adults with sleep problems.

Tip: Have a kiwi or two a day. It may help keep the doctor away!

Lemon

At only 17 calories, one peeled lemon provides 6% of your daily fiber needs and 51% of your vitamin C needs!Consumption of citrus fruits including lemon has been linked to lower rates of heart disease. This may be due to the presence of hisperidin, an antioxidant which may be beneficial for the heart. Research has shown that hesperidin treatment improves relaxation of the blood vessels (which is important for decreasing blood pressure), reduces total cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).Lemons also contain citric acid which has been shown to improve the absorption of the blood pressure controlling minerals, calcium and magnesium, in the food which decreases blood pressure.

Tip: Next time you want to make lemonade, place a whole lemon in your blender, and voila, pure lemonade!

Lentils

At 230 calories, 1 cup of boiled lentils provides 36% of your daily protein needs, making this a great source of protein for vegetarians. It is also a great source of fibre, providing 63% of your daily fibre needs. What’s more, it is an excellent source of folate, providing 90% of your folate needs.In addition to being high in fiber, lentils are rich in prebiotic carbohydrates. Research indicates that foods high in these two nutrients may reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Lentils also contain phytochemicals, which combined with their high fibre content, may reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

Tip: Have some nice lentil soup now that the colder months are around the corner!

Mushrooms

At 28 calories, 1 cup of sliced, stir-fried white mushrooms yield 8% of your daily fiber needs. It is a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium.Mushrooms enhance your immune system and have anticancer activity due to anti-tumor promoting beta glucan carbohydrates. These activate the immune system and protect your body from infectious organisms, toxins from the environment, and carcinogens.Preliminary research has shown that the more mushrooms you eat, the less your risk for breast cancer. It has also been shown that diabetes who consume mushrooms lower their blood sugar levels.

Reishi Mushrooms

A lot of us enjoy eating mushrooms; however, this kind of mushroom isn’t cooked and added to food that much. Reishi, more commonly known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, is non-toxic, which implies that you can take it on a regular basis without having to worry about its side effects. By doing so, you can help reach your body’s optimal functions and also boost your immunity. It is also seen to alleviate a lot of circulatory and respiratory problems, and even with insomnia. In traditional Chinese healing, it is known as the “king of herbs.” Whether you take it in its dried form or in its condensed form, you can never go wrong with its benefits which include: It improves the circulation of blood in our body. It helps relieve the pain from people who have respiratory ailments. It is seen to stop the growth of cancer cells. You should consider adding these food to your diet, even if some of them are different to buy, because these are considered as superfoods for optimal body function.

Tip: Make a veggie stir fry using mushrooms.

Oats

At 166 calories, 1 cup of cooked oats provides 16% of your daily fiber needs. Oats are also a source of high quality protein for vegetarians. Oats lower your cholesterol levels, reduce your risks of cancer, obesity and diabetes, and are gluten-free, making them suitable for celiac patients. Beta glucans and various antioxidants compounds such as phytic acid and flavonoids are believed to be responsible for these health effects.

Tip: Try having oatmeal more often or use oats in your baking.

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat (good fat). This fat is important for heart health. Extra virgin olive oil also contain phenolic acids which prevent inflammation, and help get rid of carcinogens.Extra virgin olive oil may help extend your life! In the Spanish branch of the EPIC study, extra virgin olive oil consumption was associated with a 26% reduced risk of death from all causes. This may be explained by the fact that it reduces blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, breast cancer, and possibly colon cancer, and improves heart health.

Tip: Make your oil of choice extra virgin olive oil.

Oranges

Oranges are well known for their high vitamin C content. At 62 calories, one orange provides 116% of your daily vitamin C content. It also provides 13% of your fibre needs. Not all fiber is created equal. Oranges are one of the rare fruits to provide soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is a non-digestible food component which dissolves in water to form a gel. Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol, decreases the absorption of glucose, and softens stools. It also lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Oranges also contain insoluble fiber, which is a nondigestible fiber that does not dissolve in water. It helps you feel full, helps constipation, lowers your risk of hemorrhoids and appendicitis, and may help with managing your weight.Oranges also contain antioxidant flavonoids which protect against heart disease and high blood pressure.

Tip: Feeling thirsty? Grab a whole orange instead of the juice. It will help quench your thirst and help you feel full.

Pomegranate

At 117 calories, half a pomegranate provides 23% of your daily fiber needs, 24% of your vitamin C needs and 29% of your vitamin K needs. Pomegranates also contain good amounts of folate, and potassium.Pomegranate is a powerful antioxidant as it is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, and ellagitannins. Pomegranate can be used to prevent and treat various cancers, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It helps with wound healing and is good for the reproductive system. Do not forget its juice! Did you know that the antioxidant potential of pomegranate juice is greater than that of red wine and green tea? Pomegranate juice has also been called the “heart healthy” fruit juice and has been shown to help reduce heart disease.

Tip: Use the whole fruit with peel to make the juice as this yields the most potency.

Prunes

At 92 calories, one serving of 4 dried prunes provides 10% of your daily fiber needs and 29% of your vitamin K needs! Dried prunes are well known for their laxative effect. This effect is not only due to their fiber content, but the high amount of antioxidant phenolics and sorbitol in the fruit.Research is emerging that dried prunes may be beneficial for your bones. Two servings (100g) of dried prunes a day has been shown to help improve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women not receiving hormone replacement therapy. Another study also found bone protecting effects with one serving of dried prunes a day. Dried prunes contain a greater amount of vitamin K than other popular fruits. Vitamin K improves calcium balance and makes bone proteins.

Tip: Have a serving of prunes a day. It could keep poor bone health at bay!

Pumpkin seeds

At 153 calories, a 1 oz. serving of dried pumpkins seeds (142 seeds) provides 4% of your daily fiber needs, 14% of your protein needs, and 23% of your iron needs. It is also a rich source of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are important for your bones. It is also a good source of vitamin K, zinc, and copper.Pumpkin seeds have several health benefits including stopping the progression of high blood pressure, decreasing high cholesterol, protecting against arthritis, and lowering blood glucose. A diet rich in pumpkin seeds may also reduce your risk of stomach, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.

Tip: When making homemade mixed nuts, add dried pumpkins seeds to your mix.

Quinoa

At 222 calories, 1 cup of cooked quinoa provides 21% of your daily fiber needs and 16% of your protein needs, and is rich in magnesium, phosphorus and manganese which are beneficial for your bones. It is also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, zinc and copper. The protein in quinoa contains all the essential amino acids making it a high quality protein source for vegetarians. Quinoa is also gluten-free making it ideal for those with celiac disease.Due to its nutritional qualities, quinoa is ideal for seniors, athletes, women prone to osteoporosis, people with high blood lipids, those who are obese and those with diabetes.Research showed that postmenopausal overweight women who ate 25g of quinoa flakes every day for 28 days reduced their triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol). This effect did not occur in those who ate corn flakes.

Tip: Consider replacing your corn flakes with quinoa flakes.

Radishes

At only 19 calories, 1 cup of sliced radishes provides 7% of your daily fiber needs and a surprising 29% of your vitamin C needs! It also has other vitamins and mineral such as potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and magnesium.Apart from nutrients, radishes also contain phytochemical isothiocyanates which are responsible for stopping enzymes which activate carcinogens, and for making enzymes which detoxify carcinogens. Isothiocyanate have been shown to stop the growth of breast cancer cells.

Tip: Add some sliced radish to your salads for extra crunch and to add extra flavor.

Wild Salmon

At 280 calories, a 3 oz. serving of broiled wild Atlantic salmon provides 43% of your protein needs. It is also low in saturated fat, and high in omega 3s, providing 2198mg of heart-healthy omega 3s. It is a rich source of riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium. Though high in cholesterol at 20%, this is not relevant as new research indicates that cholesterol in food may not contribute to your blood cholesterol levels.According to the American Heart Association, you should eat fatty fish such as salmon at least twice a week.Salmon is rich omega 3s. Omega 3 consumption helps improve body weight, satiety, reduce inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. There is also growing evidence that diets rich in omega 3s may reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer. p>

Tip: Have broiled or baked salmon two or three times a week for a healthy heart.

Seaweed

One ounce of raw wakame seaweed yields only 13 calories, yet provides 14% of your daily folate needs and 20% of your manganese needs. It is high in sodium though, providing 10% of your sodium needs. The protein present in seaweed is a high quality protein since it provides all the essential amino acids. Do you know that the Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world and the lowest incidence of heart disease, and this is partly due to their regular consumption of seaweed? Daily consumption of seaweed may also be one reason the Japanese have lower rates of postmenopausal breast cancer. Research indicates that adding as little as 5 grams of seaweed a day to the diet of healthy postmenopausal women could reduce their risk of breast cancer. Though seaweed is high in sodium, seaweed has been shown to lower blood pressure. Elderly Japanese patients who had high blood pressure and were given 5 grams of seaweed powder for eight weeks showed a decrease in blood pressure. Other research has shown similar reductions in blood pressure.

Tip: Incorporate seaweed into your soups and salads.

Spinach

One cup of raw spinach comes in at only 7 calories, but provides 56% of your daily vitamin A needs and 181% of your vitamin K needs. It is a good source of folate, manganese, and vitamin C. Spinach has anti-cancer, anti-obesity, blood sugar lowering, and blood lipid lowering action due to its phytochemicals. Phytochemicals found in spinach decrease your food intake by releasing satiety hormones, scavenging free radicals and decreasing inflammation.

Tip: Making a quiche? Incorporate spinach into it for added colour and nutrition.

Strawberry

Coming in at 46 calories, 1 cup of whole strawberries provides 12% fibre of your daily fibre needs, 141% of vitamin C and 28% of manganese. Apart from nutrients, strawberries contain phytochemicals such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and tannins which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Strawberries have a greater antioxidant capacity than apples, peaches, pears, grapes, tomatoes, oranges, or kiwi.Strawberries prevent inflammatory disease, reduce obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and reduce the risk of heart disease and various cancers. The fibre and fructose content of strawberries may decrease your blood sugar by slowing down digestion, while the fiber may reduce your calorie intake because it makes you feel full. The high water content may also play a role in making you feel full.

Tip: Have fresh strawberries as a snack.

Sunflower seeds

A 1 oz. serving of dried sunflower seeds provides 10% of your daily fiber needs and 12% of your daily protein needs. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin E, thiamin, magnesium, copper, manganese, and selenium.Consuming sunflower seeds improves your heart health. This is because sunflower seeds contain plant-derived protein. In large studies, increased consumption of plant-derived protein compared to animal protein has been linked to reduced heart disease. One reason for this is that plant-derived protein results in lower blood pressure and improved blood lipids. Sunflower seeds also contain phytosterols which inhibit cholesterol absorption, leading to lower total cholesterol in the body.

Tip: Add sunflower seeds to your smoothies or baked goods.

Tart cherries

One cup of tart cherries(without the pits) comes in at only 77 calories yet provides 10% of your daily fiber needs, 40% of your vitamin A needs, and 26% of your vitamin C needs. Sweet and tart cherries contain several antioxidants and polyphenols which have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. Cherries help prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, diseases involving inflammation, and Alzheimer’s disease.Tart cherries also contain melatonin which helps you sleep better. Studies demonstrate that consuming tart cherry juice may improve sleep quality and duration in people without sleep problems and may be helpful in managing insomnia. Tart cherry juice has also been shown to reduce muscle damage and pain after exercise.

Tip: Need to get some good quality sleep? Try drinking tart cherry juice on a regular basis.

Green Tea

1 cup of green tea has zero calories and contains no nutrients. However, do not be fooled by its nutrient content.Green tea contains the highest concentration of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that activate enzymes to make carcinogens dissolve in water, which makes them easier to get rid of. Research also shows that green tea may help prevent you from getting heart disease. It does so by lowering your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and by increasing your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Additionally, Green tea may protect against and help treat cancer. Polyphenols in tea may kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing. For instance, research has shown that women who drink green tea are less likely to get bladder cancer, and that men with bladder cancer who drink green tea have a greater 5-year survival rate than those who do not. A study found that among women who had early stages of breast cancer, women who drank the most green tea had the lowest spread of cancer.Green tea may also help treat type 2 diabetes, decrease inflammation due to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, help with weight loss, and treat arthritis.

Tip: Try replacing some of your hot beverages with green tea or use green tea in your smoothies, soups and sauces.

Tomatoes

One cup of chopped red tomatoes contains only 32.4 calories, but provides 38% of your vitamin C needs, 30% of your vitamin A needs and 18% of your vitamin K needs. Apart from nutrients, tomatoes also contain phytochemicals such as polyphenols, flavonol and lycopene. Tomatoes reduce your risk of getting heart disease and prostate cancer. It also reduces LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.Lycopene is thought to be the driving force behind the health benefits of tomatoes. It acts as an antioxidant by removing free radicals, decreases inflammation, prevents cholesterol production, and improves immune function. Notably, lycopene is better absorbed by your body when you cook tomatoes and add oil to them.

Tip: Make chili or pasta sauce for dinner tonight.

Turmeric

At 24 calories, 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric provides 26% of your manganese needs and 16% of your iron needs. Surprisingly, it also provides 6% of your daily fiber needs.Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer agent. Studies have shown that turmeric may be useful in preventing cancer in chronic smokers, and reducing abdominal pain and discomfort in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. You may also use turmeric to help heal stomach and intestinal ulcers.

Tip: Having trouble with indigestion? Try including curries containing turmeric into your diet.

Walnuts

At 185 calories, 1 oz. of walnuts (14 walnut halves) provides 8% of your daily fiber needs and 9% of your protein needs. It is rich in copper and manganese, and is also high in omega-3s and omega-6, which boost brain health and function as we age.Walnuts also contain polyphenols which perform antioxidant actions in the brain, reduce inflammation in brain cells, improve communication between nerve cells and increase the production of nerve cells. Walnuts also contain melatonin which helps prevent dementia and cognitive impairment.Walnuts also reduce the risk of heart disease and are useful in treating diabetes.Walnuts are high in calories, so they could cause weight gain. However, this has not been supported by research. In fact walnuts and other nutrient-rich nuts are satiating, which helps control your appetite and intake of calories. Also, calories are not well absorbed from them.

Tip: Use walnuts to top your salad or as a simple snack.

Watermelon

Watermelon is a low calorie fruit providing bang for your buck. At 46 calories, 1cup of diced watermelon provides 2% of your fiber needs, 21% of your vitamin C needs and 17% of your vitamin A needs. Watermelon is high in water content, containing 92% water. Watermelon is a good source of antioxidants such as lycopene, ascorbic acid and citruline, which help protect against cancer and heart disease.

Tip: Feeling hungry and thirsty? Grab some watermelon!

Yogurt

At 137 calories 1 cup of plain, skim milk yogurt provides 28% of your daily protein needs and 49% of your calcium needs. It is an excellent source of riboflavin, vitamin B12, and a good source of pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. Yogurt may be able to reduce your risk of becoming obese. This is because increased consumption of yogurt may replace intake of foods that may be higher in calories and fat, and lower in fiber. Yogurt may also reduce your risk of getting an infection. Yogurt contains zinc, vitamin B6, protein and bacteria which improve immunity.

Tip: Have a cup of yogurt a day to keep the doctor away!

Garlic

One clove of garlic yields 5 calories and contains some nutrients in minute amounts. However, garlic provides health benefits beyond the realm of nutrients.Garlic helps lower blood pressure, reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and prevents heart disease. Garlic may also be reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease

Tip: Use garlic to add flavour to your foods.

Coconut

There is a good reason why the coconut tree has been regarded as the tree of life. It is also known to be the most nutritious food source as compared to other fruits, but it seems that it is also the one to be the most disregarded. There are various ways of acquiring its benefits: you can eat the flesh itself, which nourishes the good bacteria in the body, or you can drink the coconut water, which is full of electrolytes, a key for the body to function normally. Coconut water can be obtained by opening the fruit itself; pressing and putting pressure to the flesh can help you acquire coconut cream; while extracting the juice from the meat and water will produce coconut milk. Coconut oil is also seen to be beneficial, but we must be aware of the low-quality ones which have already been manufactured with chemicals. Some of its other benefits include:A protection against cardiovascular diseases, by decreasing the amount of bad cholesterol.A good (and cheap) alternative for tooth decay by adding in coconut oil to your toothpaste.For those of us who want to shed off those excess pounds, coconut water is seen to boost one’s metabolism, and thus, increasing one’s energy levels.

Chlorella

Mostly available in capsule and in liquid forms, chlorella contains a lot of vitamins and minerals that are proven to help in the prevention of colds, lower cholesterol, and even stimulate mental functions. Although it is not the most sought after when it comes to alternative medicine, when we talk about decreasing the level of metal in your body, this proves to be the most efficient as it is shown to decrease the level of toxicity from pregnant women who are fond of consuming fish; thus, decreasing the health hazard for the baby. Other benefits include: It is used to avoid any asthma attacks. It is used to give relief for constipation. It can be used to aid pre-menstrual pains.

References & Interesting Reading:

  • Seaweed: Natural vegetable from the sea
  • Oats : Diabetes grains reference
  • Acai:Study of supplementation with acai products
  • Tart Cherry: study about men with hypertension
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