Not all foods are created equal. So-called “superfoods” are always trendy, often exotic, and usually delicious. But a food doesn’t have to have an unpronounceable name or cost a lot of cash to be super. Super foods are foods which have high levels of diverse nutrients. While the fancy stuff like açai berries and kale definitely contain lots of nutrients, this is also true of old staples like spinach and grapes. Here are 9 of our favourite superfoods and how to prepare them.
10) Brussels Spouts
Brussels sprouts are full of folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and copper which your body requires in trace amounts. Their slightly bitter taste makes them perfect for pairing with sweeter vegetables like squash and cooked onions.
9) Hemp Seed
Not only does hemp seed contain omega-3 fatty acids, it also contains all of the amino acids found in a full protein molecule. This is great news for vegetarians who would otherwise have to mix different types of beans and lentils to make up a full protein. Try adding hemp seeds to baking or sprinkle them on your cereal.
Did you know that watermelon is low in sugar compared to other fruits? Yet it’s one of the sweetest tasting melons around. Watermelon is a tasty way to keep you hydrated and some studies suggest that it can help protect you from the harm of ultraviolet rays because of its high lycopene content. Try it frozen on a stick for extra summer chill.
Beets are high in antioxidants which are essential in preventing cancer. But what’s even better than that is the fact that beets are the main ingredient in borscht, and borscht is amazing. If you’ve never tried this easy beet soup, look up a recipe and make some RIGHT NOW.
Move over antioxidants, there’s a new cancer-fighting buzzword compound in town and its name is glucosinolate. Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds which have been linked to a lowered risk of some cancers, and cauliflower is full of glucosinolates. But wait, there’s MORE! Not only is cauliflower a source of trendy new compounds, it’s also the main ingredient in a trendy new dish: cauliflower rice. Just chuck some cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it is granular but not mushy, then steam or fry it as you would with normal rice. So good.
The science is still out on this one, but early tests have suggested a possible link between the polyphenols in cinnamon and lowered blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. It also makes a decent substitute for sugar itself in tea or sprinkled on cereal.
You don’t always need to look far and wide for powerful foods. Broccoli is a major calcium booster and it’s high in fiber and antioxidants. And don’t throw those stems away! They may not be very pretty in your stir fry, but they are great for adding flavour to blended soups.
Everyone knows that oily fish like salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, but not all omega-3s are the same. Fish contain two specific long-chain omega-3s called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are the omega-3s that contribute to good brain health. Studies have shown that diets that don’t contain enough of these fatty acids can cause problems with cognitive and memory function, and often lead to depression. To stave off the blues and keep your mind sharp, try topping your salmon with chopped red onions and cilantro and baking it.
Yup, algae. Specifically the microalgae that produce EPA and DHA. There aren’t many plants which humans regularly eat that contain these fatty acids, which is why researchers and physicians often recommend we eat the fish that eat the algae. For vegetarians, this is not an option. But there are supplements made of algae oil that provide the same nutrients as fish oil without the environmental impact, or the fish burps. You could also just find some algae and eat it, but make sure you’re getting the right species. They don’t all produce these fatty acids and some algae can actually be toxic. On second thought, just stick with the supplements.
1) A Balanced Diet
Okay, “a balanced diet” isn’t technically a superfood, but it is the most super tool you can use to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body and mind need. It is easier now than at any other point in history to get a variety of fresh, healthy food all year long. A food doesn’t have to be on this list to have benefits, so mix up your vegetables, fruits, and seeds and you’ll be feeling super in no time!