Most of us can identify foods that are considered healthy or unhealthy, but do you know which ones are considered “super foods?” You might say they possess special powers because “super foods” power our brains, fuel our bodies, lower cholesterol, and protect against heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and respiratory infections. As an added bonus, they can even put you in a better mood.
Two key things distinguish a food from a “super food.” A “super food” is unprocessed and packed with higher nutrients per calorie as compared to other foods. Rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients, these familiar, affordable and readily available healthy foods, which can be found at your grocery store or local market, can be used in easy-to-cook recipes or eaten raw.
“Super foods” typically fall into one of five categories—vegetables, fruits, proteins, calcium-rich foods or grains.
Examples of “super foods” include:
- Vegetables: broccoli, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin and artichoke
- Fruits: berries (particularly blueberry, acai berry, cranberry and blackberry)
- Proteins: nuts (particularly walnuts, pecans and hazelnut), yogurt, cheese, beans, soy products and salmon
- Calcium-rich foods: sardines, oysters, spinach and soy products
- Grains: whole grains, wild rice, brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal, popcorn and quinoa
- Spices: cloves, cinnamon and oregano
Even some miscellaneous items, such as resveratrol (skin of red grapes, red wine) and dark chocolate, are considered “super foods.”
While no single food can provide you with everything you need to be healthy, it’s important to choose a variety of “super foods” from each category to meet your daily nutritional needs.
Juan Taveras, M.D., is a cardiologist with Las Palmas Medical Center and Del Sol Medical Center