The term ‘superfood’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but not all of these ‘heros’ of the food kingdom are created equal. As a nutritionist, my criteria for a ‘superfood’ are that they check off lots of items on the ‘superior nutrition’ checklist.
Zach Adelman, Founder and CEO of Nativas Naturals (the superfood company), says, “Superfoods are an easy way to obtain a boost of important nutrients. And with today’s busy lifestyles, nutrition convenience is more important than ever. These five foods meet my criteria for being “super,” with the added caveat that they’re quick and easy to prepare. They are great for weight control and are actually very tasty!
Broccoli is a nutritional dynamo. It’s loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, which will help to keep your immune system strong – making them a great addition to your plate during the winter months.
They’re also high in iron and great to eat after your period to replenish blood lost during menstruation. They’re high in fiber so they fill you up without packing on the pounds — one cup is only 30 calories! Broccoli has many health benefits: it reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects, for example. It’s just an overall all-star as far as vegetables go.
Quick, tasty ways to prepare: Broccoli is versatile and can be eaten raw with hummus or guacamole, added to pasta dishes and stir-fry or as a side dish. Experiment with spices like curry, coconut milk, Thai seasoning, and ginger or go with standards like sauteed garlic broccoli.
Despite confusion over how to pronounce its name (for the last time, grandma, it’s “keen-wah”), quinoa is known as one of the few complete vegetarian proteins. It’s full of complex carbohydrates, which give you long-lasting energy that won’t lead to an eventual “crash,” (like simple carbs and sugar do).
Furthermore, quinoa doesn’t contain gluten, making it a great alternative for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Quick, tasty ways to prepare: Replace starchy foods like rice and pasta with quinoa for health reasons and also because it’s better for weight management. Make patties with onions, quinoa, bell peppers and black beans for an extra-healthy vegan burger.
Some people refer to these itsy bitsy seeds as “warrior food” because they’re known for giving you so much energy! With 5 grams of fiber in just one tablespoon, they’re great for digestive health.
Other reasons they’re super:
- Chia seeds are a complete protein, which means they contain all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need to build muscle. Nice!
- A 2-oz serving provides more calcium than a cup of milk.
- They provide massive amounts of nutrients for only a few calories.
- They’re an unprocessed, whole-grain food that’s easily absorbed by the body.
Quick, tasty ways to prepare: Chia seeds have a nice mild flavor and are easy to prepare. They go great as toppings on salads, in smoothies, oatmeal, and in cereals. You can make a delicious chia seed pudding by soaking them in almond milk or mixing them into a fruit puree.
These beautiful berries are one of the best to eat every day. They’re great for skin because of their high water content and because they contain flavonoids, which protect skin from environmental damage and aging.
They are high in potassium and fiber while being low in calories; one cup has about 70 satisfying calories! According to a Rutgers University study, blueberries can help to prevent UTI’s because they contain compounds that prevent bacteria from sticking to bladder walls.
Quick, tasty ways to prepare: Look for the darkest ones as that indicates they’re higher in antioxidants. Wild, frozen blueberries are easy to find year round. They make great smoothies, are tasty additions to salads and baked goods, can transform boring breakfast oatmeal and cereals, and you can heat them up to make delicious jams. They’re also great as a dessert topping!
Nuts get a bad rap due to their high-fat content but these healthy fats are essential to proper brain function and don’t equate to being overweight. Eaten in moderation (about an ounce a day) they can be great for weight management.
Nuts are high in protein which helps to build muscles, and they’re an excellent source of energy. They’re also satisfying, which is one of the criteria for healthy eating and weight management.
While they’re high fat, it’s the good unsaturated kind that gives you glowing skin and keeps your heart healthy. They keep your mind sharp which not only old people worried about dementia have to think about, but also anyone working toward a successful life.
Quick, tasty ways to prepare: Nuts are the perfect, portable snack—keep some at your desk or in your bag for a quick energy boost. Jazz up salads with sliced almonds, walnuts or pecans atop. Try nut butter on your toast instead of regular butter or cream cheese. Go for raw or dry roasted nuts and un-hydrogenated nuts and nut butter such as almond butter, walnut butter and tahini.
Zoë Baxter is a private health coach who earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from New York University. Although she started out training and practicing as a therapist, Zoë changed careers when she realized that what she was most passionate about is helping people change their relationship with food to lead happier, healthier lives.