Fruits, vegetables and whole grains generally top the list of superfoods, the name often given to nutrient-rich foods that are low on calories and good for your health and well-being. Most are plant-based.
“Many of these foods can help with weight loss and prevent chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol,” says Steven Pratt, MD, a Scripps physician who is well known for his books about nutrient-rich superfoods. “These are foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed and can help prevent health problems.”
While there is no one food that holds the key to good health, certain foods provide greater health benefits than others. As such, there are lots of foods that are considered superfoods. Consider adding some of these smart, tasty options to your diet for good health.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, are rich in nutrients and pack very low in calories. Kale is high on antioxidants, which can protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Like kale, spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, E and K, and a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron. Kale and other leafy greens are high in fiber and water content, which help with digestive health.
Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. When eaten in moderation, nuts can be part of a healthy, balanced diet and help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Walnuts and almonds provide a good dose of the omega-3 fatty acids. They help protect against heart disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Most nuts also have a good amount of melatonin, which is essential for good sleep.
Quinoa is a seed that packs an impressive nutritional punch, including lots of protein with all the essential amino acids, fiber and antioxidants. These properties have been linked to weight loss and improved health.
Fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Many are rich in antioxidants, such as oranges, blueberries, acai and kiwi.
Kiwi can also help protect against vision loss or macular degeneration.
Eating fish is a better alternative than eating red meat and processed meats that can raise the risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of fish, particularly fatty fish, per week.
Oily or fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are a good lean source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart as well as brain health.
If you’re on a fish diet or just like to eat it a lot, make certain it’s low in mercury.
Studies show that dark chocolate — when it is not loaded with sugar and saturated fat — is a nutritious heart-healthy treat.
The cacao in dark chocolate contains potent antioxidant properties that promote healthy blood pressure and more.
Olive oil is a staple of the popular Mediterranean diet and can help improve your cardiovascular health, lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for breast and colon cancer.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.