It might be tempting to think that the latest buzz around superfoods is mere hype. However, there’s plenty of science to back up why these foods are getting so much attention recently. Packed with nutritional benefits, such as above-average amounts of certain critical vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it’s wise to incorporate more of these into your meals as one vital step in staying healthy. And by also increasing your intake of healthy sources of protein and fiber, you’ll take some needed steps to retool your diet towards healthier eating.
What’s the Big Deal About Antioxidants?
Antioxidants have gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of decades. If you’re not sure what the fuss is all about, the basic thing to know is that they’re naturally occurring substances that protect the body from internal damage. According to WebMD, they fight off destruction from free radicals, harmful molecules that have been linked to cancer, hardened arteries and other diseases. Free radicals occur sometimes as a result of natural processes in the human body, but are also present in pollutants.
Increasing your consumption of certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is key to enjoying their benefits. Top performers such as beta-carotene, C, K and E are commonly found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Whole grains, meats and seafood are typical sources of zinc and selenium. Flavonoids are present in plant products, especially brightly colored produce, and have important anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Pack in the Fruits, Veggies and Grains
Many plant-based superfoods are already packed with powerful antioxidants, so mixing them in with your meals is much easier than you think. Your local grocer already carries most of these in its aisles. So armed with a little knowledge you can select an ideal mix to amp up your nutritious consumption. And the great news is, they taste awesome and give your diet the variety it needs.
You’ve probably heard a lot in the news lately about some of these nutritional dynamos, but many of them have been dietary staples for a very long time. For example, the fascination with kale is brand new but in truth, it’s been an integral part of cuisine in western African nations and in the southern United States for generations. Like other dark leafy greens such as spinach, collards and mustard greens, kale boasts higher levels of beta-carotene and vitamin K. Other powerhouses in the produce section include everyday goodies such as carrots, apples, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and cauliflower.
You’re not limited to fresh fruits and vegetables to up your intake, so if you’re short on time it’s still possible to eat more antioxidant-rich foods. Woman’s Day lists many superstars that can easily be worked into your diet. For instance, canned pumpkin puree is a good source of beta-carotene and works well in many recipes. Black beans are loaded with flavonoids, and sunflower seeds are ideal as a quick, on-the-gosh nosh to get more vitamin E. Brown rice excels for its magnesium content, and don’t forget about delicious sources like green tea, black tea and dark chocolate.
Mega-Powerful Meats and Seafood
Other superfoods are valued for being rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is famous for its omega-3 content, and oysters pack a formidable punch for their protein, zinc and selenium. Eggs are a low-calorie source of protein, clocking in at six grams per egg but with only 72 calories each. A new contender in the arena is organic bone broth, which is traditionally part of get-well dishes such as chicken soup. Au Bon Broth’s products are packed with a powerful roster of minerals, and also boast a healthy supply of antioxidants.
It’s understandable if you’re confused when it comes to superfoods. However, there’s no need to seek out far-flung exotic sources to eat healthier. Many nutritional superstars are available right at your grocery store, and with the Internet making online ordering quick and simple, you can get a wide range of other culinary wonders delivered right to your door. Some tried-and-true traditional staples, such as dark leafy greens, eggs and bone broth, keep delivering high values of antioxidants, minerals and protein. And count on an assortment of fresh produce, grains, meat and seafood to help you fashion your well-balanced diet.