Don’t you instantly think about Superman when you hear the word superfood? Ok, maybe I'm the only one. But, what's so special about these superfoods that they've acquired superhero status in today's food-obsessed culture?
Superfoods pack a powerful punch, providing antioxidants and essential nutrients that your body needs to prevent disease. Here are five superfoods you need to start including in your diet for a super healthy living.
1) Blueberries For Heart Health, Brain Health, Cancer Prevention & Insulin Response
Research suggests that natural compounds found in blueberries called polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation in chronic conditions such as heart disease and several types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometric, pancreatic, prostate and colon. Blueberries also contain folate (folic acid in food), which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus playing a role in the prevention of formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.
Rich in dietary fiber, blueberries lower blood glucose levels, improve blood sugar, and insulin levels in people with diabetes. Flavonoids in blueberries have been found to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and even improve short-term memory loss and mortar coordination.
Recommended Servings: ½ cup per day
2) Salmon For Bone Health, Heart Health & Cognitive Health
The fish contains proteins like calcitonin which helps in improving bone density by enhancing calcium uptake. Salmon is rich in omega 3-fatty acids which helps prevent heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing your arteries from getting blocked. Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon also improve cognitive function along with protecting the brain from inflammation.
Recommended Servings: 2-3 per week
3) Soy For Cancer Prevention, Heart Health, Menopause, Bone Health & Digestive Health
Antioxidants present in soy neutralize free radicals. The high fiber content in soy can reduce risk for colon and colorectal cancer, since fiber eases digestion and lessens the strain on the gastrointestinal system. Fiber in soybeans also reduces cholesterol levels. The presence of fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acid, in soy can help maintain appropriate blood pressure levels for a healthy heart. Fiber improves digestion by stimulating peristaltic motion—the contraction of the smooth muscles that pushes the food through your digestive system.
Isoflavones present in soy ease many symptoms of menopause like mood swings, hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Soy is rich in vitamins and mineral such as calcium, magnesium, copper, selenium, zinc, which promote osteogenesis that allows for new bone formations and speeds up the healing process of bones.
Recommended Servings: 1 cup of tofu per day
4) Strawberries For Heart Health, Cancer Prevention & Cognitive Health
Strawberries are being studied for their ability to suppress inflammation and reduce risk of hypertension by lowering LDL cholesterol. Anthocyanins, a certain sub class of flavonoid, dilates the arteries and counters the buildup of plaque as well as provide other cardiovascular health benefits.
Flavonoids also help reduce inflammation and play a vital role in improving cognitive health. Strawberries are also good sources of antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin C which help decrease risk of esophageal cancer.
Recommended Servings: Eight strawberries per day
5) Dark Chocolate For Heart Health, Cognitive Health & Insulin Response
A recent study found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing arteries from clogging. Consumption of cocoa can reduce LDL cholesterol, potentially lowering risks of heart disease.
Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine(PEA), the same chemical that is released from your brain when you fall in love, thus uplifting the mood and reducing stress making it healthy for the brain. Dark chocolate has a low glycemic index (does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels). The flavonoids present in it reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells function normally and regain the ability to use insulin efficiently.
Recommended Servings: 1 ounce per day