10 Superfoods You Should Know About (And Some You Already Do)
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Written By: Taylor Rao
No matter how many squats you’re doing at the gym, exercise alone isn’t going to get you the body of your dreams. It’s no secret that exercise’s best friend is a balanced diet, and now more than ever you can research the day away to find out what foods are in and what’s out.
If you’ve ever entered “healthy recipes” into the search bar, chances are you’ve stumbled upon a little word called superfood. And if you haven’t, it’s a term to know when you’re grocery shopping and meal prepping because there’s more of them out there than you think, and you’re probably using some in your everyday life already. (Score!)
According to the American Heart Association, superfoods are essential for a heart-healthy diet, and many of which can be great substitutes for other unhealthier foods like red meat or high-fat products. We’ve rounded up 10 superfoods you should know about so that you can work these into your diet ASAP.
1. Chia Seeds
These tiny seeds come from South America’s Salvia Hispanica plant and historically were an essential part of the Aztec and Mayan food culture. Today, they’ve become a super popular addition to smoothies and acai bowls as they’re essentially tasteless and include a crazy amount of fiber, protein and Omega-3 fatty acids for such a small lil’ thing.
Almonds are high in fat, but the majority of that fat is monounsaturated fat, which is good for you in moderation. They’re low in carbohydrates and can be eaten raw as a snack, or toasted and sliced for a crunchy topping on a salad or something sweet.
Eating almonds can improve your bone health and your skin. It is also known to ease digestion and can contribute to weight loss if eaten regularly (almonds can be quite filling). They contain copper, iron, magnesium, calcium, protein, fiber, manganese, riboflavin and phosphorus. Whoa!
PS: Did you know almonds aren’t actually a nut after all? An almond is a seed from the fruit of an almond tree. Mind. Blown.
3. Dark Chocolate
Say what?! Yes, dark chocolate can be good for you. But, before you get too excited that chocolate actually does belong on your things to eat list, you’ve got to know what makes it a superfood after all.
Dark chocolate, the good kind, is made with quality cocoa which is rich in antioxidants and contains fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and potassium. The benefits of eating just a little piece of dark chocolate each day are said to contribute to lowering your risk for heart disease, and can also protect your skin from the sun and help fight memory loss over time.
Next time you walk by that trendy smoothie shop on your lunch break, you might want to think about stopping in and grabbing yourself a fresh açai bowl. This purple berry is all the rage in the healthy living scene as its purpose in those beautiful bowls makes it taste (and look) that much sweeter.
Açai is rich in antioxidants and without any added sugar, it can be a very healthy addition to a smoothie or its namesake bowl. Açai is practically Instagram famous with over 1 million Instagram hashtags and counting. Looks aren’t everything, but these bowls have beauty and brains.
Kale takes the cake as one of the more popular superfoods, but if it’s not for you, you shouldn’t feel guilty about sticking with spinach, which is a powerful superfood as well. Spinach is just as rich in nutrients as kale, but doesn’t have as steep of a price tag at the grocery store.
Spinach has a high presence of vitamins and minerals and includes three ingredients that are critical in improving eyesight and reducing the risk of cataracts (beta-carotene, lutein, and xanthine). And if eating it raw in a salad isn’t your thing, sauteé it and cook it down and add it into a soup or casserole, or to eat on its own as a side dish.
You can pat yourself on the back if you’ve been eating blueberries since you were picking them in a patch as a kid, but blueberries are at the top of the superfood list, and they’re quite possibly one of the best fruits out there.
Blueberries are good for the heart with all of the fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and folate found in them. Best known as a superfood for its high antioxidant levels, eating a cup of fresh blueberries has anti-aging benefits and can also prevent ovarian cancer in women.
Salmon is a great alternative to red meat if you’ve been told by a doctor that it’s time to cut back on steak and burgers for dinner. It’s a high-protein fish with lower mercury levels than others and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease with all those Omega-3 fatty acids packed inside.
If you prefer to eat salmon raw, it’s not a bad idea to grab some sushi and indulge in a salmon roll on your cheat day since seaweed is a superfood as well.
Cinnamon isn’t just a flavor, it’s a superfood in its own right. It can help fight bacterial and fungi infections, but only if you buy the good stuff. There are actually two types of cinnamon out there -- Cassia is the type you’d most typically find in the grocery store, which in large amounts could be considered unhealthy for you. The more natural version called Ceylon can be ingested as a daily tablet as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplement.
9. Maca Root
Now, this might be the only thing on this list that doesn’t ring a bell. Maca root comes from an edible plant native to South America and in a powder form, can be included in your diet so you can reap a whole lot of benefits.
It’s best known to help improve your energy without the jitters or crash that caffeine could have. Not only will it keep you motivated and energized to get through the work day, but it’s known to have a positive effect on female libido and male fertility. So, if you’re looking to get your stamina up at the gym, the office or the bedroom (yeah, I said it), you might want to toss a little maca root in your morning smoothie.
10. Green Tea
While your peers might look at you a bit funny if you tell them you prefer a cup of tea over some morning joe, they might just want to switch sides after learning the many upsides to including green tea in your daily diet.
Green tea is highly-praised as one of the healthiest beverages out there, and though it contains less caffeine than coffee, there’s enough in there to produce an energizing effect while also improving your brain function. All thanks to the amino acid L-theanine, which works with the caffeine to keep your mind in tip shop shape. Drinking green tea regularly can also help lower your risk against three different types of cancers: breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
The list of superfoods goes on and on, but hopefully, some of these already have a steady spot on your grocery list. And if not, you’ve got a great head start on how to inject these superfoods into your diet for a chance to boost energy, lower your risk of certain cancers and diseases, and get your daily dose of so many important vitamins and minerals.