In the world of health and nutrition, food fads come and go. Food companies find new ways to market their products, and scientific research turns up more and more knowledge about particular foods and how they power the body. With so much conflicting information out there, it can be hard to determine what types of diets are best and which foods are the most beneficial. Fortunately, a few foods will always be hailed as healthy and nutritious, and generally are clumped into the term “superfoods.” Simply put, superfoods are foods which have many nutritional benefits without any drawbacks. Superfoods pack in the most nutrition per bite, making them the favorite for a wide variety of diets.
1. Chia Seeds
Ounce for ounce, chia seeds contain an incredible amount of nutrition while being relatively low-calorie. They are high in fiber and protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals, making them an ideal staple. At one time they were an important dietary component of South American civilizations, and now they are recognized as being one of the best superfoods you can eat.
Chia seeds also contain a high amount of antioxidants, which allow the fats in the seeds to stay preserved to fuel your body. In addition, 40% of the chia seed is comprised of fiber, making it one of the leading fibrous foods you can consume. Most of the carbohydrates in the seed are in this fiber as well, meaning the body will not end up storing most of it.
Nothing packs in so many vitamins and minerals while also being so low in calories. Kale only has 36 calories per 8-ounce serving, but has 5 grams of fiber. It is high in iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calcium. Many leafy greens boast little more than being water and fiber, but kale has the whole complement of nutritious vitamins and minerals to boost your body’s health. In addition, it is also chock full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt in that it is strained. The straining process removes extra minerals, water, and sugar, leaving behind a creamy yogurt with a higher ratio of nutrients to calories. Greek yogurt makes this Top Five list because of this densely packed nutrients list.
One cup of Greek yogurt can have around 15 grams of protein, making it a great meal centerpiece. If you’re looking to avoid other major sources of protein such as meat, Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute. This makes Greek yogurt a great post-workout food. The proteins and amino acids it contains help rebuild your muscles after you tear them down. It also takes care of the dairy portion of your nutrition—Greek yogurt is packed with probiotics, making it great for the digestive system.
Salmon is one of the healthiest meats you can consume. It contributes an incredible amount of nutrition, making it an excellent choice for the superfood category. While containing a good portion of protein, salmon is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, making it very beneficial to cardiovascular health, eye health, brain health, as well as to your metabolism. Omega-3 fatty acids work to lower cholesterol, strengthen cardiovascular tissue, and promote vein and arterial health. They also boost brain health and help to prevent macular degeneration. Salmon’s omega-3 fatty acid content essentially makes it beneficial to all parts of the body. This nutrient boosts the body’s metabolism and can even decrease inflammation.
Quinoa is a grain (technically the seed) which has been fueling people’s diets for a thousand years. It is extremely nutrient-dense, making it one of the best superfoods out there. The nutritional value of quinoa is phenomenal. One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and a good portion of your daily values of potassium, zinc, iron, copper, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, as well as some B-complex vitamins.
Quinoa also has a low glycemic index, meaning it raises the blood’s sugar levels slowly. Many grains and cereals have a much higher glycemic index, which has been linked to an increase in obesity and a stimulant for hunger. It is gluten-free as well, making it the ideal option for those with a low gluten tolerance.