The powerhouse of nutrients that comes with large doses of minerals, vitamins, polyphenols and antioxidants is exactly the kind of food that falls under the definition of “superfood”. But why that prefix “super”?
First of all, rest assured that this is not just a random word chosen arbitrarily. The benefits that accrue from having superfoods are truly magical in terms of their transformative effects on our body and mind. Superfoods can help you reduce, control and even get rid of a range of chronic diseases. So not only this kind of foods prolongs life but they ensure that you have a healthy life. And health in many ways is the golden secret to happiness.
So it is no wonder that in contemporary times, when every guy is a fitness freak and almost everyone is health conscious, superfoods are hugely popular. Nowadays people are more aware than they used to be earlier and that is reflected in their food habits too.
The fact that better diet can be the key to sweet life is now accepted by all. And therefore, these superfoods are in high demand.
Here we have a comprehensive list of some of the most popular superfoods and their health benefits. The more you learn about the secrets of these fruits and vegetables, the more you will realise that ignorance is no bliss.
Bok Choy is a type of a vegetable that originated in China. It resembles cabbage and has smooth and dark green leaves that form clusters similar to celery. They grow well in cold climates and are therefore widely grown in Northern Europe. Bok Choy is very salubrious when it comes to nutritional value. It has one of the highest Vitamin A contents naturally available and is also known for being a good source of Vitamin C. It is also rich in Calcium, Sodium and Magnesium. A low calorie, low carbohydrate, fibre containing food, Bok Choy is a must have for all the health conscious people around the world. Bok Choy also contains glucosinolates, a compound which is known to prevent cancer when taken in controlled amounts. This member of the cabbage family is also highly ranked in terms of nutrient content when it comes to antioxidants and omega-3s.
There are almost 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in Bok Choy. Several hydroxycinnamic acids are included in them. As said earlier, Bok Choy also has a strong Beta Carotene content which subsequently results in the high Vitamin A content. Several other carotenoids like lutein are also provided by Bok Choy. All this being said, it is quite natural that anyone serious about being healthy would like to include Bok Choy in their regular diet. The health benefits provided by cruciferous vegetables are wonderful and should be availed by all. Make it a point to include Bok Choy 2-3 times in your diet weekly and upto 5 times if you feel like. An average serving size should be 2cups. This is an easy to prepare superfood that is easy to digest and mildly sweet in taste, making it incredibly versatile in several recipes.
Ezekiel bread is something that almost every health conscious person has heard of and there are several myths that are revered about it. Let’s find out what is the real deal about it. Most bread have some amount of sugar content in them. However, Ezekiel bread has none. It is produced from organic sprouted whole grains and therefore the nutrient composition varies a lot from normal bread made with whole grains. Most common bread contains refined wheat or pulverized whole wheat. Ezekiel bread however contains 4 different types of cereal grains namely wheat, millet, barley and spelt and 2 types of legumes namely soybeans and lentils. Before making the bread, all the ingredients are grown organically and are allowed to sprout. Then they are mixed and processed, finally baking them to make bread.
So why do sprouted grains make this bread so different from other normal ones made from whole grains? The seeds contain a lot of things, gene codes proteins and others that create a new plant. When a seed receives the right signals it starts the germinating process creating a sprouting seed. But a seed has certain mechanisms that prevent it from germinating it in an unfriendly environment. They are called enzyme inhibitors. By sprouting the seed, these inhibitors are rendered useless, therefore full utilisation of the nutrients can be done. Also, plants have self defence mechanism impregnated in the seeds that inhibit animals from eating them up. But a sprouted seed is in a transitional stage between a plant and a seed. Keeping all these in consideration, one can rightfully say that Ezekiel bread is miles ahead of the normal bread we buy containing whole or refined wheat and added sugar and can truly be considered as a superfood
Kale is a vegetable that is also known as lead cabbage. They are known to have leaves that are green or purple in colour. Also, the central leaves do not form a head. They are very similar to wild cabbages. They can reach heights of six or seven feet. Generally compact and symmetrical, they are really healthy in terms of how beneficial they are for your health. However, one has to be careful as there are certain varieties of Kale which are not fit for consumption. That apart, kale is an excellent source of nutrition. A regular serving of kale, 100 grams of it provides 49 calories and is filled with several useful nutrients required by the body. It includes vitamin A, C, K along with vitamin B6, folate, manganese, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, pantothenic acid and other minerals like iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Kale also contains other important nutrients like carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Kale belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables and therefore like other members of cruciferous family it contains glucosinolate compounds which contribute to sulforaphane formation.
However, one should remember, much of the nutrient values of Kale are reduced when it is boiled. To make most of the nutrients in this vegetable, one might steam it before consumption. Cooking it in a microwave or stir frying it also has no deterrent effect on the nutrient value of this vegetable. Kale is a vegetable that is suited to cold weathers. Exposure to frost actually makes it flavors come alive. They are excellent additives for salads when combined with other ingredients of strong flavours like roasted peanuts, soy sauce, roasted almonds, etc. Dehydration of kale by means of baking makes it similar in consistency to that of potato chips.
Popularised in every kid’s childhood as a strength booster by Popeye, the cartoon character, this plant is truly a superfood. An edible flowering plant, that grows in cold weather and temperate regions, this can grow upto a feet tall. The leaves are larger at the base and grow smaller upwards. This is a very good diet option for the calorie conscious as a 100 grams of spinach yields only 23 calories. It is also high on nutritional value. A rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, folate and manganese, spinach is best when had fresh or frozen. Short boiling or steaming it does not change the nutrition value either. Apart from that spinach is also known to be a rich source of vitamins like riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin E and other minerals like calcium and potassium. And lastly, it provides a good dose of fibre required in our daily diet.
Spinach is said to constitute a new found healthy ingredient known as glycoglycerolipid. These are but the fat molecules in the light sensitive organs of plants and play quite an integral part in the process of photosynthesis carried out by the plants. Of late, scientists have found out that this ingredient has also got an ability to protect the digestive tract from harms. It protects the digestive tract from inflammation and therefore inhibits several diseases like ulcer. Spinach is also known to aide against prostate cancer. This is among the very few vegetables that show significant evidence to be claimed as an anti-cancer agent, thanks to certain carotenoids called epoxyxanthophylls that help in prevention of cancer. Future research is likely to reveal more anti-cancer properties of spinach.
Arugula also known as salad rocket, rucola, colewort and roquette is a plant by the scientific name of eruca sativa. It is widely popular as a salad vegetable and belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Originating from the Mediterranean region, it soon spread far and wide, from Morocco to Portugal and Syria to Lebanon and Turkey. Now it has spread around the globe and is a very popular vegetable in the United States and almost all of Europe. The plant grows upto 3 feet in height and the leaves are pinnately lobed. The plant is fairly tough and can thrive in dry and broken grounds which are not fit for cultivation of most plants. In Italy it is used as an additive while baking pizza and while cooking certain pasta dishes. It is administered generously in several recipes and is also as a condiment for cold meat, poultry and fish. Arugula continues to be used in soups, boiled potatoes or cheese. It has also been used in salad along with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Arugula can also be processed to produce a sweet and peppery alcohol that aides in digestion. It can also be eaten raw. A special kind of oil called taramira oil can be produced by pressing arugula seeds and the seed cake can be used as fodder.
Arugula has a lot of health benefits. It has tonnes of antioxidants like glucosinolate and detoxifying agents like enzymes. A good source of fibre, arugula provides a healthy supply of vitamins A, C and K. Other ingredients are folate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and iron. It also constitutes of a high level of protein and vitamin B complex. Riboflavin, thiamin, copper and others make it really good for health. It helps in increase of good cholesterol and lowers the bad. The flavonoid in it prevents cholesterol deposit in arteries and lowers blood pressure among several other health benefits.
Dandelion greens have been a popular food in almost all countries around the globe from a prehistoric time. However only in Eurasia have they been specially cultivated as a food source. The leaves are a tad bitter and blanching corrects it. They are also sauteed with spinach. Dandelion leaves or dandelion greens have been a part of several ancient regional diets like Kashmiri, Slovenian, Sephardic, Chinese and Korean cuisines. It can also be used to prepare dandelion wine and the roots when ground and roasted make dandelion coffee which is necessarily caffeine free. A famous traditional British drink, Dandelion and Burdock along with the ever popular root beer, uses dandelion as an indispensable ingredient. The Victorian gentry used to be a big fan of Dandelion greens and added them to salads and sandwiches.
The leaves are a rich source of several essential nutrients and therefore can be considered a superfood. It contains high levels of vitamins like vitamin A, C and K. Several useful minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and manganese is also found in abundance. Through history, dandelion was a prized medicinal plant. Herbal medicinary has tapped the full potential of dandelions to treat infections and problems related to bile and liver. It is also known to purify blood, cure indigestion, and prevent piles and gall bladder stones. A surprising fact, dandelion greens can provide 535% of the daily vitamin K requirements of an adult. This makes it an excellent food for strengthening bones and fighting Alzheimer’s. It also is a rich supplier of Vitamin A, antioxidants like carotenoid which are good for mucous membranes and vision. Dandelion greens also contain carotene, luteinand cryptoxanthin which protects the body from lung and mouth cancers. Dandelion greens are high in fibre and also contains vitamin C and B6 among several other nutrients.
Mizuna, also known as Japanese mustard or Japanese greens and California pepper greens among others is a cultivated member of the Brassicaceae family. Mizuna tastes similar to arugula, mildly spicy with light peppery flavours. It is used in stir fried recipes and also in soups. The leaves are dark green with deep cuts. Having a fresh and crisp taste they can be eaten on their own or combined with meat. The Japanese also like them pickled. They are suitable in the cold weather and are widely grown in Japan during the winter season. It grows rapidly in most types of soils. Apart from being suitable to the palate, mizuna has aesthetic uses too. It is used in gourmet food decoration and in salads to increase the visual appeal. It can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried or mixed with other similar green vegetables while preparing a salad. It has a high water content and therefore looses a lot of volume when cooked.
Mizuna can be considered as a superfood when one analyses its nutritional value. It is rich in carotene and minerals, vitamin C, folate and iron. It also contains powerful glucosinolates. It is an antioxidant that helps in decreasing the risk of cancer, specially bladder, colon, breast, lung, prostate and ovarian cancers. Mizuna also helps in detoxifying the body. They help in boosting cardio health in a number of ways. They decrease levels of cholesterol and help in avoiding homocysteine which is responsible for several cardiovascular diseases. Mizuna contains omega-3 fatty acids that are important for curing inflammations in the body. It also has a high fibre content. The high vitamin A content in mizuna helps keep our eyes healthy and since it is an excellent source of both calcium and potassium, bones diseases can be kept at bay by adding mizuna to our diet.
Red leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce is a part of the lettuce family but it has red leaves instead of the normal green. It is also known as fire lettuce, redina lettuce, galactic lettuce and Benito lettuce. This has a very less calorific value and therefore can be used by people trying to lose weight. A hundred grams of red lettuce yields 16 calories and very low fat. It has some amount of protein and loads of other nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The several vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and several types of Vitamin B like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. It also has a good supply of minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc. Red lettuce is a rich source of carotenoids. The beta carotene present in it is transformed by the body to form retinol, contributing in the vitamin A requirement. Other carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin are also present in small amounts and they work as antioxidants.
A serving of red lettuce constitutes of 70% of Vitamin A and 40% of Vitamin K requirements of an adult human body. This makes red lettuce very good for our eyes and our bones because vitamin K helps in regulating the bone density by aiding in assimilation of calcium. It also helps in making blood clot, thus increasing our immunity from cuts and injuries. Red lettuce is very popular among people who are trying to lose weight. Since it has very low calorific value, one can eat a lot of it and feel full without gaining any considerable amount of calories.
Chard is a type of vegetable that is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It is a leafy vegetable with the leaves being reddish or green in colour. The leaf stalks are also of several colours. They can be white, yellow or red. A very healthy vegetable, it has been around for centuries and helps in making diets healthy and full of nutrition. Chard when fresh and not fully ripened is used in salads in raw form. Although ripe chard should not be eaten raw, cooking or sauteing negates the bitter flavour of ripe chard. The cooked chard has a mild flavour like that of spinach. However, cooking or boiling of chard may reduce the nutrition content significantly. Chard is very popular among people trying to lose weight. 100 grams of it yields only 19 calories and therefore when taken in sufficient quantity one shall feel full without gaining significant calories. Chard has a high content of Vitamin A, K, E and C in which vitamin K content is 10 times the daily adult requirement. Several minerals like magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron are also present in chard. It has a low content of carbohydrate and protein.
The high vitamin K content in chard makes it very useful when it comes treating osteotropic ailments. It helps in bone calcium arrangements and vitamin K is also helpful when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s. The high vitamin A content of this vegetable along with omega 3 fatty acids and other antioxidants like carotene and lutein help keeping the body healthy. The presence of Vitamin B complex like thiamin and pantothenic acid regulates optimum levels of cellular metabolic functions.
Romaine lettuce is a variety of lettuce that grows in hot climates. Most popular for its use in the famed Caesar salad, this lettuce has been consumed by man since ancient history. The Egyptian and Israelis had it included in their diet. In modern times it is widely used mostly in Middle Eastern cuisines. This lettuce is eaten raw as a salad green or may also be boiled or made into soups. This lettuce is a boon for the calorie conscious, with a 100 gram yielding only 17 calories. It has very low carbohydrate content and negligible fat content. There are significant amounts of Vitamin A equivalents and vitamin B complex is also present. Vitamin C along with several minerals constitute the nutrition profile of this vegetable. The presence of calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium makes this vegetable real good for health. The presence of antioxidants makes this vegetable good for preventing cancer and also provides several anti-aging properties.
The romaine lettuce has several properties which are often overlooked. This has a high vitamin C content. This along with high levels of beta carotene helps the body and heart. Vitamin C and beta carotene prevent in the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidised cholesterol gets sticky and then deposits in the inner wall of arteries forming plaques. The more the formation of plaque, the narrower the passage inside arteries get, finally leading to a clot that could lead to a stroke. It also helps in removal of cholesterol from the body. The fiber present in it binds with bile salts and removes it from the body. This leads to production of more bile and the bile breaks down cholesterol. The folic acid present in this vegetable helps to convert a harmful chemical called homocysteine into benign substances thus inhibiting the chemical from damaging blood vessels.
Superfoods have been marked by the diet conscious and the dietitians as something that you should be thankful for. And evidently there are ample justifications. The existence of superfoods, most of which are incredibly tasty apart from being healthy, are the living evidence of the fact that neither does losing weight have to be a struggle nor should eating right and eating well have to be an ordeal. They are not healthy in the temporary sense that they have a short term effect only but their benefits are a long term affair as they also prevent many diseases and helps in healing certain chronic ones. Taking all these into account, it can be safely assumed that superfoods are something that every healthy diet should consist of and every health conscious should have on their priority list. Though eventually what everything boils down to is how the food is presented in your plate which basically has a lot to do with the method of the food preparation and it does become definitive in terms of one liking or not liking a particular vegetable or fruit or drink. The solution that can be proposed here is that you avail the range of recipes available online and you also get great cookbooks in almost all local book stores.
While exercise should constitute a big part of your ideal routine to remain healthy, a properly functioning body is truly and genuinely facilitated by a good diet and this is where the superfoods fit in. It is important to stress on the terminology of a word in order to grasp the true essence of it and the term ‘superfood’ should that way speak volumes about what is being communicated here. The description of each food and what it does for you will help you realise the true significance of the term “superfood” and in many ways, the honour is well-deserved. Here, the list we provide is a conclusive and exhaustive list of all the major superfoods and should be closely followed for that is a guarantee for good health and a better lifestyle which we may all agree is the ultimate key to happiness.