October 06, 2014
“Superfood” is one of those buzzwords you’ve likely heard recently. On the bare bones level, a superfood is a food that offers multiple health benefits when consumed. Integrating these foods into an overall healthy diet can be valuable to anyone looking for an extra boost.
While the list of so-called superfoods is growing, there are a few staples that are readily available, offer a host of benefits and that most people will enjoy. Here are five superfoods to try and the benefits they offer:
Kale is experiencing a renaissance currently. What used to be used to line the edges of salad bars, is now being recognized for the powerful superfood it really is. Kale is loaded with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants – a combination that can improve health and reduce the risk of cancer.
Kale has an unusually high amount of the cancer-fighting antioxidants carotenoids and flavonoids. In addition to antioxidants, kale is full of omega-3s – nutrients that are hard to find outside of animals products. There’s plenty of research to support that omega-3’s reduce inflammation – a big contributor to a wide variety of ailments.
Like kale, salmon is packed with omega-3s and therefore a great superfood to prevent ailment-inducing inflammation. The fatty fish carries around 2 grams of omega-3 fats per 4-ounce serving which is enough to meet 50% of the daily requirement for an average sized adult.
Omege-3s have been shown to help improve the metabolic markers for cardiovascular health. Eating omega-3 rich fish two to three times a week may reduce the risks of heart disease and reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or high blood pressure.
Be sure to look for wild salmon for maximum health benefits – especially if you are pregnant. Farmed salmon can contain dangerously high levels of mercury and other harmful chemicals, and is often injected with food coloring to make it look more attractive.
In the snack size world, almonds could be considered the perfect snack. They are tasty, easy to transport and full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Those fats are the same healthy fats found in olive oil and have been found by multiple research studies to reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition to healthy fats, almonds are also high in vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium – all nutrients that are critical in a maintaining healthy heart function.
Heart disease isn’t the only thing almonds are effective in preventing. Research has shown that almonds are successful in decreasing damaging spikes in blood sugar after meals. Blood sugar spikes are often precursors to other diseases like diabetes.
4. High Quality Yogurt
Yogurt has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. It’s what we call a “functional fermented food” and may contain ‘live and active cultures’ although generally in too low of a dose to have any therapeutic effect. However, even though it’s not a reliable or guaranteed source of beneficial bacteria it is very healthy. Yogurt is fermented milk, the fermentation is carried out by gut friendly bacteria, this process makes the milk nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium easier to digest and more bioavailable. These nutrients are great for keeping bones healthy and strong.
It’s important with any yogurt to know what you are buying. Currently there aren’t any strict regulations controlling the effectiveness of these products, so the label could be misleading. When choosing a yogurt, take a look at the label. The ingredient list should include milk and live active cultures – that’s all. We suggest staying away from artificially sweetened yogurts or yogurts with extensive ingredient lists. You can buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit, almonds or honey for added flavor.
Better still; make your own natural yogurt at home. It’s easier than you might think, and guarantees that you have a healthy, nutritious product.
Blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food. These antioxidants help fight off cell-damaging free-radicals. Antioxidants are also helpful in preventing heart disease. Blueberries may also help activate enzymes in our body that have been shown to decrease inflammation – this is great for the heart and overall health.
Blueberries are also considered a low glycemic food, meaning they don’t affect our blood sugar very much, so despite their sweet and tangy flavor – blueberries will not spike blood sugar. This makes them a great choice for diabetics or people looking to watch their sugar intake.
Digestion Impacted by Gut Health
Antibiotics, stress, medications, alcohol consumption, diets, cleanses, even chemicals in the water we consume can all negatively impact our internal gut health, and when our gut health is impaired we aren’t as likely to absorb nutrients well. And yes, this is true even if we are providing our bodies with the most well selected superfoods. A well functioning digestive tract depends upon a balance of beneficial bacteria therefore we also suggest a daily probiotic supplement such as Natren Healthy Trinity with guaranteed quantities of each strain of beneficial bacteria to aid digestive support. Making healthy food choices and maintaining a healthy internal gut system should go hand in hand.
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