Over the past few years, the word “superfood” has entered the public’s vocabulary. Originally a marketing term, we’ve come to know superfoods as foods that are of high nutritional value. While there is no scientific definition of a superfood, it’s true that certain foods pack a lot of nutritional punch. Here are eight such foods to incorporate into your diet.
1. Eggs: The nice thing about eggs is that they’re cheap, easy to make and can even function as a great on-the-go snack if you hard-boil them. Historically, eggs have received a bad rap because egg yolks contain high levels of cholesterol. However, eggs contain a number of important nutrients, including protein, iron, minerals, B vitamins and folic acid, and according to the Mayo Clinic, eating four egg yolks or fewer on a weekly basis does not increase your risk of heart disease. They’re an excellent source of protein, and they contain 12 vitamins and minerals that can help with brain development and memory. Since eggs do have high levels of cholesterol, those with high cholesterol, diabetes or cardiovascular disease should talk to their doctor about their diet.
2. Yogurt: If you can stick with unsweetened yogurt (use fruit instead as a sweetener), yogurt can be an excellent source of calcium and potassium. It’s even easier to digest than milk, which is particularly helpful for those who might be more sensitive to milk-based products. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “Choose My Plate” program recommends that people consume fat-free yogurt, as dairy products that aren’t fat-free can fill your diet with empty calories.
3. Beans: Packed with fiber and enough protein to be a meal’s centerpiece, beans are a great substitute for beef and poultry. They can also serve as a side dish. Beans are rich in potassium, iron, zinc and folate. They are also loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help fill you up and lower your cholesterol.
4. Nuts and seeds: Nuts do contain good, heart-healthy fat and plenty of protein. If you eat small servings, nuts are extremely good for you. Studies have shown that nuts can lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
5. Berries: They’re low in calories, yet high fiber, and they provide sweet flavor with natural sugars. Blueberries in particular are one of the best foods you can eat for their high antioxidant content, and are great fresh or frozen.
6. Quinoa: Quinoa is one of the only grains that has a high concentration of protein (8 grams per cup). Couple that with a plenty of zinc, vitamin E and selenium that can help prevent heart disease and diabetes, and you’ve got one of the most potent superfoods available.
7. Spinach: This leafy green is packed with vitamins A and K and is a good source of vitamin C and folate. Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections, while the folate found in cooked spinach can reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
8. Salmon: Salmon makes the list for high omega-3 fatty acid content, lower calories and lots of protein. It’s a great food for your heart, which is why the American Heart Association recommends getting two servings per week.
Making it a Habit
These foods will be the most beneficial to you if you’re making them a part of your regular diet and getting into the habit of eating them on a daily or at least weekly basis.
If you aren’t getting enough of these nutrients, and don’t believe you can (schedule, no time to cook, etc.), consider taking a multivitamin to make up for it. Otherwise, enjoy these foods as a regular part of your meal plan.