What are Superfoods?


Recently, you may be hearing hype around foods like blueberries, kale and olives due to their array of health benefits. You may have heard the terms “super food” and “antioxidants,” but what do these really mean, and why are these foods so important for our diet? According to WedMD, a healthy diet incorporating superfoods will help you maintain your weight, fight disease, and live longer. Preventing heart disease, cancer, and cholesterol are among the health benefits of consuming super foods. Below is a Super Food List of the top 10 foods to eat to be the healthiest, happiest you!

Mediterranean Diet Superfoods

Sifnos, Greece with a Villagers Salad and Horta (Wild Greens)!

Sardines

Sardines are small fish sometimes found fresh and often preserved since they’re so perishable. They promote heart health through being one of the most concentrated sources of omega 3 fatty acid and being an excellent source of vitamin B12. Sardines are also very rich in vitamin D, which is essential to bone health as well as regulating cell activity. They’re also packed with protein, and are known to prevent cancer.  Wild Planet produces my favorite canned sardines.

Saurkraut

Saurkraut is a fermented shredded cabbage that has great health benefits. It contains great amounts of vitamin C, lactobacilli and other nutrients. It also contains fiber, and improves digestion and promotes the growth of healthy bowel flora. Saurkraut reduces the risk of cancers, namely colon cancer, and also increases immune function.  I recently recommended sauerkraut in Shape Magazines ‘Top 50 Spring Foods for Weight Loss’.

Kale

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable whose popularity is recently on the rise because of its nutrient richness. It has more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food. It’s full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. Kale is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It is also known to lower cholesterol, and it plays a large role in the body’s detoxification process.  I’m loving this blog: 365daysofkale

Garlic

While it may not be great on a first date, garlic can do wonders for your health. Garlic is able to lower our cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Garlic’s unique set of sulfur-containing compounds also protects cells and blood vessels from inflammatory and oxidative stress. Unknown to many, garlic is also a great source of vitamin C as well as vitamin B6, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Garlic is historically known to protect against bacteria and viruses.  Taste for Life wrote a great article on how to enhance immunity, you can find it here. P.S., I’m honored to have been featured next to Dr. Andrew Weil!

Blueberries

The word “antioxidant” often comes to mind when you think of blueberries, and for good reason. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that prevent free radical damage to the body, thereby fighting cataracts, glaucoma, ulcers, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few. While many think of red wine as having great antioxidant benefits, a study showed that blueberries deliver 38% more free radical fighters. Blueberries have also been shown to improve nighttime vision and digestive health.  Here’s a link to the US Highbush Blueberry Council.

Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables, commonly known as seaweed, have been in the Japanese diet for ages, and it would be smart to follow that example. Sea vegetables contain unique phytonutrients, and are a great source of iodine and vitamin K. Sulfated polysaccharides, which are starch-like molecules, are found in sea vegetables and have a large array of benefits, protecting against inflammation, cancer, and viruses. Sea vegetables are also known for containing a wide array of minerals, including calcium, copper, magnesium and zinc.  Maine Coast Sea Vegetables are my favorite sustainably and certified organic sea vegetables.

Olives & Olive Oil

Topping your salads, meat dishes and pizza with olives will provide great  health benefits. Olives are a great source of vitamin E and monosaurated fats. They also work to prevent heart disease and colon cancer. Olive oil is by far the most nutritious culinary oil because of its exstensive amount of polyphenols, which function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. It reduces the risk of lipid build-up in the veins, and also protects the digestive tract.

Coconut oil

Not only is coconut oil beneficial for your skin and hair, but this oil, often used in cooking, has many health benefits as well. It improves the digestion and can prevent digestive-related problems, including irritable bowel syndrome. Its fatty acids also help in taking off excessive weight and increase your metabolism. The acids and lipids in coconut oil also have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, and it works to heal infections.  P.S., I love Whole Foods brand of coconut oil.  It’s very inexpensive compared to other brands.

White tea

For all green tea drinkers, there may be reason to switch to White tea. It has been a delicacy in Chinese culture for centuries, and provides many health benefits. It contains polyphenols, which are an antioxidant that kills cancer-causing cells. It also boosts your body’s immune system by fighting of bacteria. It also works to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and makes your teeth and skin healthy and strong.  My favorite brand of white tea is Teavana Youthberry.

Beans

All beans are known to be a great source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Two types that are especially healthy are kidney beans and black beans. Kidney beans are known to stabilize blood sugar, which is great for those with diabetes, and also provide large amounts of iron and protein. Black beans work wonders for the digestive tract, and help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are also connected with a reduced risk of cancers, specifically colon cancer.  Did you know that canned beans are almost as nutritious as dried beans?  Try Eden Organic brand–they’re my favorite!

Yours in Health,

Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN