There is a lot of buzz around superfoods. After all, who wouldn’t want to eat foods that are super for your health?
The term ‘superfood’ has become widespread and generally refers to a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health.
"Healthy eating is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helps prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health office of Canada, in a press release announcing the new food guide.
With the change in seasons, many people start thinking about turning over a ‘new leaf’ when it comes to diet and exercise. Try adding some of these delicious and healthful foods, many of which are considered superfoods, to your dinner plate. Under Canada’s new food guide that should include lots of fruits and veggies, proteins (preferably plant-based) and whole grains. You might find you actual do start feeling more super!
Vegetables and fruits
Try to choose a variety of these. A good tip is that the most colourful ones pack the greatest punch and almost all of them can be considered superfoods.
- Apples. The adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is not far off the mark – these fruits have Vitamin C and quercetin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. They are also high in potassium and fibre, and make a great snack.
- Avocados. They are great sources of vitamins C, E, K, B6, magnesium, potassium and have omega 3 fatty acids, and are good for your heart, blood sugar levels, vision and bone health. No wonder avocado toast became a thing!
- Beets are rich in folate, manganese, potassium, zinc as well as nitrates that play a big role in heart and vascular health. Add them to salads or roasted as a side dish.
- Berries are considered among the healthiest foods of all. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and other berries are packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation. Throw them in a blender for a delicious smoothie.
- Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits have potassium, Vitamin C, and other antioxidants that help to boost the immune system. Skip the morning glass of orange juice (too much sugar) and slice up an orange instead.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are high in Vitamin A, iron, B-complex vitamins and phosphorous, and may help protect against osteoarthritis and bladder cancer and support the immune system. If your kids turn your nose up at it, try recipes that hide it in their favourite foods.
- Greens, especially dark leafy ones such as kale, spinach, swiss chard and collard greens are rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and many B vitamins, as well as minerals and fibre. They are thought to help reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart diseases. Whip up an easy salad or add them to vegetable soup.
- Sweet potatoes and other orange vegetables have beta carotene, which acts as an antioxidant and may help reduce the risk of cancers. Their potassium levels help maintain blood pressure, their fibre helps the digestive tract, and their Vitamin C boosts the immune system. Barbecue season is almost here – put them on the grill to get the most from their sweet flavours.
- Tomatoes. What makes them red is lycopene, a nutrient that keeps your heart healthy. They have a lot of Vitamin C and other antioxidants and play a role in maintaining blood pressure. Add them to salads or your favourite sandwiches.
Protein is important for every cell of your body – it’s the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Try to choose more plant-based proteins (it’s better for you and the planet!).
- Eggs are packed with protein and have many important vitamins and minerals, all of which help to build muscle, help brain health, provide energy, lower heart disease risk and maintain healthy tissues. They are one of the most versatile foods there are.
- Edamame is a great option for vegetarians and vegans, as it has a ton of plant protein, fibre, folate, iron and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols, and may slow the rate of cognitive decline. This whole soybean makes a great snack. Other good soy products include tofu and tempeh.
- Legumes and pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils, are high in folate and fibre and may help prevent a variety of chronic diseases.
- Nuts are among the best plant-based proteins and may help with a variety of chronic diseases. Munch down a few almonds while watching your favourite show on Netflix.
- Yogurt has a lot of calcium in addition to protein so is good for bones and teeth. Many have probiotics which are beneficial for gut health. Opt for lower-fat and unsweetened options. For some variety, add some berries.
- Ancient grains: Quinoa has been popping up on menus everywhere lately as a superfood but soon you’ll be hearing about amaranth, spelt and teff too. Spelt is very rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc as well as fibre. Amaranth is iron-rich and has antioxidants and essential minerals.
- Brown rice. It’s a great source of magnesium, which your body needs to build bone and convert food to energy.
- Oats. Go with the steel-cut ones, which are less processed and have more fibre than traditional oats, keeping you full longer. Oats may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol.
Nutritious foods are the basis of healthy eating and healthy food choices help stave off chronic diseases that are impacted by diet, such as heart disease, stroke, some cancers and diabetes. They’re also delicious and versatile. Try boosting your body by making a super plate of superfoods today.