Superfoods is a term that was coined to classify foods rich with antioxidants, phytochemicals (the chemicals in plants responsible for their odour and colour), vitamins and minerals. Most of the superfoods are plant-based, but some fish and dairy also fall under this category of superfoods. The high vitamin and mineral content in these superfoods can result in an improved level of immunity and keep infections at bay.
Here are 6 Superfoods and their nutritional benefits:
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy green vegetables are a great source of nutrients including folate, zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, fiber and Vitamin C. They contain high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds called carotenoids which protect the body against certain types of cancer. These vegetables also have the potential to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses including type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Kale, swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens and spinach are a few dark leafy greens that are classified as superfoods.
Berries are also power-packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants in the berries result in a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory diseases. They are also used alongside the medical treatment of various digestive and immune-related disorders due to their effectiveness in assisting the process to recovery. Some of the most commonly used berries include raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries.
Legumes, or pulses are a type of plant foods consisting of lentils, peas, peanuts, alfalfa and beans (including soy). They are loaded with nutrients, play a role in managing and preventing illnesses and hence are classified as superfoods. Legumes are a major source of Vitamin B, protein, fiber and various minerals. Research indicates improved management of Type 2 - Diabetes and reduced cholesterol and blood pressure. Consumption of legumes on a regular basis promotes healthy weight maintenance.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and Seeds contain extremely high levels of vegetable protein, healthy fats and fiber. They also have plant compounds that contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can curb oxidative stress in the human body. Studies show that a regular and controlled consumption of nuts and seeds can have preventive measures against heart disease. The most common nuts and seeds that can be consumed either in their raw form or as garnishes are:
Almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts and macadamia nuts
Legumes such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts
Seeds such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Avocado is one of the most healthy fruits due to its high nutritional values. It is particularly rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fiber. It is also high in monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid that is linked to reduced inflammation in the body. Including avocado in the daily diet reduces the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer.
Sweet potato is power packed with many nutrients including potassium, Vitamin A, C and fiber. Despite their sweet flavour, they do not aid in increasing the sugar levels in blood. On the other hand sweet potato is known to control the blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 Diabetes. They’re also a good source of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that may reduce your risk against certain types of cancer.