7 Super Foods to Include in Your Diet

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What is a super food? Any unprocessed food with high nutritional content, relatively low calories and other significant health benefits (such as antioxidants, cholesterol reduction or essential fatty acids) can be considered a super food. According to health professionals, eating a balanced diet rich in super foods will not only help you to get in better shape, but actually boosts your mood, too!

1. Acai

This Amazonian palm-berry has a distinctive taste that resembles more familiar berries with a hint of dark chocolate. (Not the first taste you expected to encounter on a list of health foods, right?) Acai contains anti-oxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids, which confer a plethora of health benefits. It combats aging, promotes cardiovascular and digestive health, and aids muscle concentration and regeneration. Acai is available in juice or pulp form in many health food stores. If you can’t find this exotic berry, any other fresh or frozen dark berry will confer the same antioxidant benefits, as well as providing potassium and Vitamin C.

2. Maca

This root grows high in the Andes, where harsh weather conditions prevent most forms of life from thriving. Packed with nutrients, it has unusual health benefits of particular interest to women. It prevents menstrual cramps and lessens the symptoms of menopause, helps the body to maintain hormonal balance, prevents altitude sickness, and contains numerous vitamins and minerals. Available as a powder or paste, it tastes great in smoothies and other drinks, and works even better in combination with cacao (dark chocolate).

3. Fish (Oil)

Fresh wild fish are one of the only natural sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which have a plethora of health benefits. Omega-3s promote cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation of the joints, lower body fat, increase testosterone levels, and may aid in preventing Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss. Salmon is particularly rich in Omega-3s, and is also one of the healthiest and most flavorful lean proteins available. However, due to the cost of fresh wild fish and the risk of mercury poisoning associated with over-consumption, supplementing your diet with fish-oil capsules is an easier way to get your 9000mg dose daily.

4. Peppers

Bell peppers, habaneros and the rest all contain capsaicinoids, and spicier peppers contain higher concentrations. Capsaicinoids offer anti-inflammatory, analgesic, cancer-preventing and heart-health-boosting effects. Additionally, chillies contain antioxidants and flavonoids, plus high concentrations of Vitamin C. So, add a little kick to whatever you’re cooking, and you will also be taking a step toward preventing a number of potential ailments.

5. Yogurt

Yogurt is made by feeding milk to bacterial cultures, which sounds gross but results in a delicious and nutritious food. Any yogurt that says “live and active cultures” on the label is naturally probiotic, meaning that it promotes the growth of healthful bacteria in the body, boosting digestive and immune system function. The nutrients associated with dairy products — calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins B-2 and B-12, and protein — are also found in yogurt. Plain unsweetened yogurt is the best.

6. Oats

Few breakfasts are easier to fix or more healthy than oatmeal. A bit of honey, cinnamon, banana, berries or walnuts (another super food), can really jazz up the flavor as well. You can also add instant oats to a smoothie or protein shake. Oats are one of the few foods that actively reduce cholesterol, as well as providing a high dose of soluble fiber and low glycemic index carbohydrates. Soluble fiber makes you feel full longer than other foods (which can aid with weight loss), and it may also have a moderating influence on the insulin sensitivity of diabetics.

7. Tea

Black and green teas are both rich in antioxidants, as well as tasting great and containing almost no calories. Green tea contains ECGC, a particularly powerful antioxidant that has been shown to both reduce cholesterol and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. An endless variety of fine teas are available today, many of which contain other super foods, such as ginger, acai or goji berries.

About Erica Moss

Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Master of Science in Nursing program at Georgetown University, offering one of the nation's leading nurse midwife programs. Outside of work, she is passionate about community building, photography and University of Michigan football.
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