Christopher Reeve once said “what makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use that power wisely.” With an onslaught of food options, both healthy and otherwise, the ability to choose foods that will make us superhuman instead of super sick is becoming increasingly difficult. I am here to provide you with some of the wisdom to identify which superfoods to add to your diet so you, too, can become superhuman. The maturity is up to you!
What Do We Mean by Superfood?
“Superfood” is a term used to describe natural foods with higher nutrient contents. This translates into several positive health benefits with few downsides to consumption. For the most benefits, buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible as food additives, chemicals, and contaminants can wreak havoc on our bodies.
List of Common Superfoods
Below is a compilation of foods that are sure to make you superhuman!
a. Almonds are a good source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They are also rich in magnesium, which is important for muscle contraction and relaxation and plays an important role in energy production, making almonds a great post-workout snack.
a. Bananas are touted as a great source of potassium, which is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. They are also rich in fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic, that nourishes healthy gut bacteria.
a. Beets are one of the richest dietary sources of naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds that improve oxygen and blood flow throughout the body – including the brain, heart and muscles.
a. Blueberries contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit. Rich in vitamins A, C and E, copper, zinc, and iron, they help to preserve vision, boost brain health and prevent heart disease.
a. Cucumbers have a 96% water content, keeping the body properly hydrated, regulating body temperature and flushing out toxins. They are also low in calories and fat while high in vitamins and minerals.
6. Dark Chocolate
a. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals, which cause damage at the cellular level and speed up the aging process.
a. Garlic is a natural antibiotic that helps boost the immune system by fighting against bacteria and viruses associated with the common cold and flu. They contain higher levels of calcium, vitamins B1, B6 and C, copper and potassium.
a. Raw honey has several anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. As a powerful antioxidant, it promotes digestive health, strengthens the immune system, and is a great remedy for skin wounds and infections.
9. Kidney beans
a. Kidney beans are rich in protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. They also contain folate, which helps decrease your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular-related illness.
a. Kiwi contains more vitamin C ounce for ounce than oranges. Their protection against cardiovascular illness comes from the combination of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and copper they contain.
a. Lemons help the elimination of toxins from the liver and calcium deposits in the arteries. They are rich in flavenoids, which help improve blood flow, maintain normal blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
a. Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein. Because of this, pineapple is a known digestive aid, helping the body digest proteins more efficiently. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
13. Romaine Lettuce
a. Romaine lettuce is low in calories and rich in vitamins A, C and K, folate, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of iron, making it a beneficial food full of vital elements.
a. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with increased brain health and decreased risk for cardiovascular disease.
15. Shiitake mushrooms
a. Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called D-Eritadenine (DEA), which helps lower cholesterol and supports cardiovascular health. They are also great for fighting off disease and infection due to the immune-boosting lentinan they contain.
a. Spinach is a good source of iron and is loaded with vitamins and minerals not found in other foods. Dark, leafy greens contain lutein, an important phytochemical which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration.
a. Turmeric is a spice that is widely used in Southeast Asia. It contains high levels of curcumin, a natural antibacterial with anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat everyday problems while adding flavor to rice, veggies, and more!
a. Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. They are excellent sources of healthy nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that are essential for brain health and cognitive performance.
While this list barely scratches the surface of available foods with the ability to heal, nourish ,and power our bodies, start by incorporating more of these foods into your daily routine so you can operate at your highest, superhuman capacity! Come see me for a nutrition consultation for ideas on how to incorporate more of these superfoods in your diet!
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.