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If you plan to live a healthy life, you cannot ignore the significance of a healthy diet. While living healthy means exercising regularly, sleeping comfortably in high-quality bedding made from natural latex, and enjoying nature, you need to make sure what you eat nourishes you.

Research has shown that following a nutrient-rich diet can reduce diseases like blood pressure, diabetes, and cancers, helping you stay healthy.

The US Dietary guidelines for 2015 to 2020 recommend making healthy food choices from different food groups while limiting calorie intake.

While following plant-based diets like the Mediterranean diet can help you incorporate nutrition, certain foods can create wonders for your body when included in your diet.

What are Super Foods?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines superfoods as single foods like tomatoes or nutrient-rich food groups having antioxidants, protein, fatty acids, and fibers considered beneficial to human health.

Superfoods are foods that improve your energy and vitality, and contain essential nutrients to improve your overall health.

What Makes a Super Food?

Superfoods contain potent antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals with very few calories. The nutrients may help fight high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, inflammatory diseases, and Parkinson’s disease. They could also help in disease prevention in some cases. You should also work with your doctor on health issues, as this article is not medical advice.

Some of the nutrients that make these food "super" are as follows:

  • Antioxidants: They help neutralize the free radicals in your body preventing diseases.
  • Vitamins: They are organic nutrients derived from food that improves your immunity, keeping you in good health.
  • Minerals: Minerals, like calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium are compounds needed in traces that help your organs work efficiently.
  • Fiber Content: Dietary fiber helps control cholesterol, and prevents diseases like colorectal cancer and heart disease. It keeps your blood sugar from spiking, reduces appetite, and aids in weight loss;
  • Organic: Organic food is grown and processed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and bioengineered genes (GMO); these foods limit harmful chemicals in your body, and keep your body healthy.
  • Healthy fats: Food having healthy unsaturated fats derived from olive, nuts, and fish lower the risk of certain health issues by reducing cholesterol, and improving heart health.

10 Powerful Superfoods

While not all food is created equal, here are ten superfoods that, when consumed, can improve your optimal health.

1) Leafy Greens

Dark leafy green vegetables are rich in vitamins E, C, and A, and are known for their cancer-preventing properties. They are also a rich source of vitamin K, which helps improves bone health, and folate, which improves heart health. Plus, eating dark leafy greens can help you to lose weight, too.

Why is it Super Food?

Leafy vegetables like spinach are loaded with vitamins A and C that lower blood pressure while improving heart health. Other vegetables, like kale and collard greens, are full of protein and flavonoids that prevent damage from free radicals, and protect from cancer and other inflammatory diseases. Some vegetables you can stock up on are spinach, kale, beetroot, mustard, and turnip greens.

2) Berries

While differing in their nutritional values, berries have a naturally sweet taste, and are known for their rich anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making them healthy foods.

Why is it Super Food?

The high flavonoid content makes it great for dealing with harmful free radicals, and improving overall health. Some of the well-known berries are:

  • Blueberries: It has a high number of anthocyanin pigments with anti-oxidant properties that may lower the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and prevents cognitive decline from diseases like Alzheimer's.
  • Acai Berries: Dark blue acai berries are rich in fatty acids, amino acids, electrolytes, vitamins E, B1, C, and A, and many minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These exotic fruits have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and prevent cell damage from the free radicals.
  • Goji Berries: Also known as ’berries of happiness,’ goji berries are rich in nutrients like B-carotene, vitamins BI, B2, C, and E, amino acids, antioxidants, and a wide range of minerals. Goji berries have strong antioxidant properties that prevent heart diseases and cancers. They also lower blood sugar, and prevent insulin resistance, limiting diabetes.

3) Cruciferous Vegetables:

The cruciferous vegetables are members of the mustard family, and get their name from their cross-like appearance. Some vegetables in the group are cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, and brussel sprouts.

Why is it Super Food?

The vegetables are a rich source of folates and vitamins. They also have rich fiber content, and are lower in calories, keeping you satiated and helping weight loss.

Some well-known vegetables in this category are broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, and brussel sprouts. The vegetables include glucosinolates compound that helps maintain healthy bacteria in your gut to reduce inflammation and other digestive problems.

They also are a rich source of phytochemicals like thiocyanates, nitriles, and indoles that may protect against certain cancer types.

4) Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are produced using controlled microbial growth using active cultures, and are excellent for improving your gastro intestinal health.

Why is it Super Food?

They contain probiotic microorganisms like lactic acid bacteria, protecting you from cardiovascular disease, and improving immunity and neurological health.

Some of the popular fermented food is:

  • Kefir: It is fermented beverage milk that is produced by lactic fermentation. It has acetic acid-producing good bacteria, yeast, and vitamin B complex, and is loaded with amino acids and peptides. Kefir is considered a balanced superfood, as it prevents intestinal disturbances, improving digestion and overall gut health. It also enhances your immune system.
  • Yogurt: It contains probiotics, and is a rich source of calcium and protein. The microorganisms in yogurt protect digestive health by destroying the harmful bacteria in your gut. Although flavored yogurt contains added sugar, it can be a tasty and nutritious option.

Other foods that are fermented that are beneficial for your health are sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, and kimchi.

5) Fatty Fishes

Fish are rich in proteins without saturated fats. Regular consumption of fish and seafood with important nutrients can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, improving your overall health.

Why is it Super Food?

Fatty fishes are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, essential for your brain and nervous system. They reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and improving brain function. The omega 3 fatty acid can also help unclog the arteries by keeping plaque away. Fishes rich in healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids are- salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, halibut, tuna, and rainbow trout.

In addition to the rich fatty acid content, fatty fish is loaded with protein, calcium, potassium, selenium, vitamin B12, and niacin, improving muscle growth.

6) Tea

Tea leaves contain nutrients like flavonoids and phenolic acid, and a large dose of protein, amino acids, lipids, carotenoids, and other organic acids. Tea is known for its medicinal properties, while nutrient rich green tea is consumed as a beverage or nutrient supplement.

Why is it Super Food?

Tea can prevent inflammation and boost your immune system, helping in heart disease and cancer prevention. Teas, like green tea, provide specific health benefits as follows:

  • White Tea: Because of its high level of antioxidants, white tea is especially effective in fighting certain types of cancers. It is a high source of fluorides, catechins, and tannins, and can strengthen your teeth, making them resistant to sugars and acids. It is also caffeine-free, which limits caffeine consumption in people.
  • Herbal Tea: They contain a variety of herbs and spices, making them a powerhouse of nutrients. Teas like chamomile tea, peppermint tea, and hibiscus tea have nutrients that improve liver and digestive functions while promoting sleep and reducing anxiety.
  • Green Tea: They are loaded with flavonoids that lower bad cholesterol, and blood pressure, and prevent blood clotting. Green tea improves the functions of the liver, glands in the breast and prostrate, and prevents colorectal cancers.

7) Ginger & Garlic

Ginger and garlic are popular nutrient-rich spices that can keep you in good health.

Ginger

Ginger is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The spice is a rich source of vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, and comes with numerous health benefits.

Why is it Super Food?

Here are some health benefits of adding ginger to your diet:

  • Fresh ginger contains gingerol, a compound that is an antioxidant, and reduces anti-inflammatory enzymes. It provides pain relief, and is great for arthritic conditions.
  • Ginger helps in absorbing sugar, without you taking extra insulin. It lowers your blood sugar level, and also aids in weight loss;
  • Fresh ginger silences the nerve that causes the vomiting reflex, and reduces nausea symptoms.
  • Regular consumption of ginger can have a positive impact on helping to prevent heart disease. It’s touted as being able to reduce bad cholesterol, and helps keep hypertension in check.

Garlic

Garlic is rich in antioxidants, and prevents free radicals in your body, keeping you healthy. It reduces inflammation, boosts immunity, and plays a crucial role in improving your cardiovascular health.

Garlic is rich in vitamin B6, fiber, and selenium. It can improve your bone health, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

Why is it Super Food?

You can enjoy certain health benefits by including garlic in your diet. They are as follows:

  • Garlic is rich in antioxidants, can boost your body’s immunity, and has antibiotic properties.
  • Eating garlic regularly can prevent cognitive decline from diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's.
  • Garlic promotes glutathione production that helps detox your body from environmental chemicals.
  • Garlic lowers the risk for people suffering from hypertension and high blood pressure, thus potentially helping with cardiovascular disease. It also helps reduce your blood cholesterol level, improving your heart and brain health.

8) Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, wheat, and maize contain soluble and insoluble fibers. They contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, promoting muscle growth.

Why is it Super Food?

Here are some grains that are rich in antioxidants, and are considered superfoods:

  • Quinoa: It is an ancient grain, and a great source of fiber and protein. It has all the essential amino acids, and is gluten-free.
  • Maize: It has small gluten content, and has lysine that helps in digestion. It has a high amount of protein and monosaturated fatty acids, with loads of fiber. Maize is also rich in magnesium, zinc, cobalt, copper, and other trace elements.
  • Brown Rice: It is a healthier alternative to white rice, and is rich in antioxidants that prevent premature aging. It also increases your fiber intake, helping in losing weight.

9) Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are nutrient rich, and loaded with antioxidants, proteins, and fibers.

Why are They Super Foods?

Nuts, like pistachios, are rich in protein and fiber, and are a good source of vitamin B6 in your diet. They are rich in antioxidants, and can improve your immunity, hypertension, brain health, and blood sugar control. It also protects against macular degeneration.

Almonds are power-packed nuts that contain a healthy dose of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.

Nuts like walnuts are rich in minerals, and improve brain function.

Seeds

Incorporating various seeds like hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds can enhance your immunity, keeping you in good health.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds contain antioxidant compounds, protein, and fiber, with a generous dose of minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc, phosphorous, and magnesium.

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds, a rich source of fibers, also contain alpha-linolenic acid that has anti-inflammation properties. They also contain lignans, a polyphenol that can reduce certain hormone-related cancers.

10) Olive Oil

Olive oils have potent antioxidants like vitamin E to protect you from certain cancers. It helps cure chronic inflammatory conditions, and has healthy monosaturated fats that can lower your cholesterol, improving your heart health.

Why is it Super Food?

Here are some other health benefits of olive oil that will encourage you to include it in your regular diet:

  • Olive oil has a moderate amount of vitamin E and K, and is rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants fight inflammation, protecting you from chronic diseases.
  • It can prevent stroke, and protect you against heart disease.
  • Olive oil can protect you from Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, and can prevent certain cancers.

Takeaway

Superfoods are a powerhouse of nutrients that can provide all you need to stay healthy.

Regular consumption of nutrient-rich foods, and getting a good night's sleep in a high-quality mattress, handcrafted and made from natural ingredients like latex, are some things you can do to improve your life.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates, LIVESTRONG.com, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report, Travels.com, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.