We won’t belittle the fact that superfoods are super nutritious, providing a crazy collection of antioxidants and other cancer-fighting components, packing in the vitamins and minerals, helping to fulfill the USDA daily wish list. Hey! They are good stuff, good for the body and mind.
However, as is well documented by now, and not unlike superheroes, there are no official qualifications that superfoods must uphold. Simply put, they are just really nourishing foods worth including in a healthy diet. From the outside they may merely look like something edible, but inside, they help to provide the body with the protection and prowess necessary for us to thrive.
What they are not necessarily, or at least what they don’t have to be, is something you’ve never heard of, something you can’t afford and/or something that comes from a health food store. In fact, there are many superfoods among us already, unassuming and quietly vying a spot in the fridge or pantry.
Odds are most of us don’t really need a reason to eat more tomatoes. We use them on sandwiches, as sauce basis, for salsa dips, and in salads. But, rest assured, they are supercharged, and their number one feature is lycopene, which doubles when tomatoes have been cooked.
Well respected for its medicinal benefits, including improved heart function, brain maintenance and illness fighting, garlic is worth having plentifully and often, which isn’t all that much of sacrifice. Be sure to let it rest for a few minutes after it’s chopped because it preserves enzymes.
3. Bell Peppers
Yep, just a regular old bell pepper (especially red ones) possesses super powers, such as supplying days’ worth of vitamin C and a slurry of carotenoids (antioxidants akin to beta-carotene). And “old” is key here as ripe bell peppers have much more of nutrients than young ones.
4. Dark Leafy Greens
Really, it doesn’t matter so much which type as they are all crazy full with good stuff. Look for a good source of just about anything—calcium, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, iron—and dark leafy greens are probably featured on the list.
Blueberries, of course, are the frontrunner here, with brain bolstering antioxidants galore, but having berries in the house—frozen, dehydrated or fresh—can only be a good thing. They are full of phytochemicals that keep our cells safe.
Everyone knows the old trope, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” so this should come as no surprise. Apples are renowned for their high fiber content, but the superpowers don’t stop there. The red and green skin contains a powerful, multi-talented antioxidant called quercetin.
After medicinal qualities in a spice? Forget about it! Turmeric is mad healthy, curing more ails than healthy body can acquire. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that ward off all sorts, even outperforming prescription medicine.
So nice to add to hot drinks, porridge or bread, cinnamon is much more than a pretty taste. It’s a showstopper amongst the spices for delivering antioxidants that help our brains and circulatory system stay tip-top. Frankly, the amount of work it gets done is ridiculous.
9. Fresh Herbs
Kind of like dark leafy greens, the point isn’t so much which one as that herbs show up in a diet abundantly and often. They are all full of useful anti-properties that the body will quickly lap up and put to use. Plus, they are all about providing flavor sensations.
10. Sesame Seeds
Seeds in general are spiking up all over superfood lists, and this is mainly because they have quality fats, protein and fiber all tucked away in a convenient capsule. Sesame seeds made this list because they are amongst the cheapest. They also provide calcium and iron.
As another affordable and commonplace seed, flax is worth including in this list because it is particularly good at helping to regulate our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. However, it’s important to crush the seeds before eating them, as the whole seeds will sneak through undigested.
12. Brown Rice
The brown part is very important here, as white rice has had a lot of the goodness processed out of it. Brown rice, however, is full of valuable nutrients and has a host of medicinal qualities, reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Eat more of these everyday superfoods and save your budget while also improving your health.
Lead Image Source: Cinnamon Apple ‘Toast’
Graphics by Hannah Williams