If you go to the grocery store and look around, you will see some amazing foods that can really change your health for the better if you start eating them! I call these “superfoods,” because they contain nutritional elements which can improve your internal physiology. Here are my top five superfoods that you should start eating today.
These super-vegetables belong to the brassica family and consist of cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts, among others. These vegetables exert their beneficial effects on your health in two ways. These vegetables contain a great deal of nutrients like vitamin C and folic acid, but they are also an excellent source of soluble fiber. The increased intake of soluble fiber is associated with a decreased risk of inflammatory bowel disease, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. Brassica vegetables also contain the chemical indole-3-carbinol. This chemical has a powerful effect on your liver’s detoxification system and, as an antioxidant, has significant anti-cancer activity in various cells, including the breasts.
I recommend that you consume one to two servings per day of this healthy food.
Carrots contain an orange pigmented substance known as beta-carotene, which is a potent antioxidant chemical. Beta-carotene can help absorb free radicals produced in various cells which are chronically inflamed. This compound converts to vitamin A in your body, which is very important because vitamin A is an essential nutrient for your health. Higher doses of beta-carotene have successfully been used in the management of cervical dysplasia. Consuming carrots raw as a snack or in a salad is an excellent way to increase your intake of beta-carotene. Add this healthy food to your diet.
Red Bell Peppers
These bright red and sweet vegetables contain generous portions of fiber, but are also very high in vitamin C; in fact, red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than any citrus food! Vitamin C is a vitamin that we need a constant supply of, since we cannot store it in our bodies. This vitamin has potent free radical scavenging activity and is crucial in wound healing, immune function, and proper blood vessel strength. Consuming bell peppers raw as a part of a salad on a daily basis is recommended.
This superfood, derived from the cinnamon tree’s bark, is considered a spice. Cinnamon contains chemicals called proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to improve blood sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes. This is one of my favorite spices and I think it is definitely a superfood, because it can positively influence blood sugar regulation. I recommend adding cinnamon to your diet to improve the flavor of your oatmeal or sweet potatoes.
Flaxseeds are crunchy, nutty seeds that are a welcome addition to a healthy diet for several key reasons. Flax seeds contain lignans, which can act as female hormone regulators, and they are an excellent source of soluble fiber. Flaxseed also contains alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-6 fat which is a good type of fat to ingest. I recommend consuming flaxseeds in their ground form by adding them to hot cereal or salads. I add ground flaxseed to my oatmeal for an added nutritional boost!
I try to eat these five superfoods as often as I can, because these healthy foods give your body essential vitamins and nutrients. What’s your favorite superfood?
Li, Y., et al., “Antioxidant Function of Isoflavone and 3,3′-Diindolylmethane: Are They Important for Cancer Prevention and Therapy?” Antioxid Redox Signal. March 14, 2013.
Jiao, L., “Proanthocyanidins are the major anti-diabetic components of cinnamon water extract,” Food Chem Toxicol. June 2013; 56: 398-405.
“Flaxseed and flaxseed oil,” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine web site; http://nccam.nih.gov/health/flaxseed/ataglance.htm, last accessed June 4, 2013.