Honestly, I feel almost any natural, fresh, non-processed food can be called a "superfood". They all have special properties, fibers, or nutrient profiles that can be beneficial for the body whether it be a stable mood, healthy heart, healthy gut, ideal body weight, or just better nails and skin. Currently, here are my top 3:
- Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are surprisingly delicious despite having a low fructose (fruit sugar) content. They also have a very impressive "phytonutrient" profile. This makes them a great addition to a smoothie or a snack anytime you wish.
- Strawberries contain fisetin. This compound has been shown to increase glutathione (a prime antioxidant in the body). This may help reduce inflammation as well as allergies. Yes, you heard right. Increase strawberries in your diet, like a cup a day, and expect to find less watery eyes and itching.
- Blueberries are an all around "power" berry. Eating a cup a day of fresh or frozen berries has been shown to be protective from oxidative stress, and can even almost neutralize the damage done from cigarette smoking! (This is not an excuse to continue smoking!). They also are have many scientifically documented benefits for the brain and cardiovascular system.
- Blackberries likely have many of the beneficial effects of blueberries, but are significantly higher in fiber as well.
- To sum it up: All these phytonutrients such as anthocyanidins and fiber are also great for gut health. In fact, just eating a serving of blueberries a day was shown to increase bifodobacterium in the colon. Bifodobacterium is a very healthy species of probiotic in our intestines that reduces inflammation, supports metabolism and weight, and is disease protective.
- I do recommend animal fats to be included in most people's diets. Adequate dietary fats are important for a healthy mood, restful sleep, etc. However, for those that maintain a completely plant based diet, avocados are a readily available source of healthy omega fats. But beyond their modest nutrient profile, avocados make a beneficial addition to any meal for multiple reasons.
- One benefit is helping you absorb the nutrients from other plant based foods! Examples of nutrients better absorbed with avocado consumption are carotenoids (Vitamin A precursors important for the immune system, skin, and much more), curcumin from the spice turmeric, etc.
- Another benefit is the reduction of the effects of foods that can generate inflammation in the body, like animal meat! An amazing study examined this property and showed how consuming avocados along side meat negated the inflammatory properties of the meat.
3. Beans / Legumes.
- This food is a staple for many people world wide and also one of the primary foods consumed by people living in the "Blue Zones", i.e. communities in the world that have the longest lifespan. Studies have even evaluated the medicinal properties of beans, such as their positive impact on cardiovascular health. Not only have they shown impressive benefits for prevention, but even as a treatment for conditions such as peripheral vascular disease. If you want to learn more check out: Nutritionfacts.org (Dr. Michael Greger).