If you want to eat healthy, you might as well do it all the way with superfoods, never sacrificing taste of course.
Several nutritious foods have enjoyed the spotlight lately. How many of these ingredients sound familiar? Matcha, kava, kudzu, seaweed, quinoa, kombucha, chia seeds, goji berries, cacao, kimchi, açaí, miso, and turmeric are all on an extended heyday. Food trends come and go even in the health-food world, but unless you have an allergy or overdo it, you can't go wrong. Here's how to tell if you've got a superfood on your hands:
- A superfood is a whole (real, unprocessed, in its original form) food with high nutrient density — providing more bang for your buck. Usually plant-based, superfoods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- There are no standard criteria or approved list of superfoods, according to the American Heart Association. For that reason among others, many nutritionists avoid using the term to prevent unrealistic expectations of protection from chronic diseases. Bottom line: These are foods that are especially healthy for you, and there are dozens of them.
- The best health foods possess three of these four components, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
- High in phytonutrients and antioxidant compounds, such as vitamins A and E and beta carotene.
- May help reduce risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
- Readily available.
Some of our favorite superfoods are packed with benefits:
- Almonds: Protein, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.
- Apples (with skin): Antioxidants quercetin and catechin, polyphenols, and fiber.
- Blueberries (and other berries): Antioxidant anthocyanin, and phytochemicals called flavonoids.
- Broccoli: Vitamins A, C, and K, and folic acid.
- Beans (especially black beans): Fiber, protein, antioxidants, and iron.
- Collard Greens: Calcium, vitamins C, K, and A, folate, and fiber.
- Green Tea: Polyphenols, a potent antioxidant, alkaloids, and L-theanine.
- Kale: Vitamins A and C, potassium, and phytochemicals.
- Oats: Fiber, magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients.
- Pumpkin: Fiber and vitamin A.
- Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and several B vitamins.
- Spinach: Vitamins A and K, iron, and folate.
- Sweet Potatoes: Potassium, fiber, vitamin C and B6, manganese, and copper.
- Tomatoes: Antioxidant lycopene, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
- Walnuts: Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
- Wheat Germ: Vitamin E and folate.
- Yogurt: Calcium, vitamin D, and protein.
Also: Açaí, avocado, cabbage, dark chocolate, eggs, flaxseed, garlic, mushrooms, pomegranate, red wine, watercress.
Try some of our recipes that celebrate these superfoods.
1. Easy Salmon with Lemon and Capers
Marinate the skin-on salmon fillets for about 15 minutes while you chop the shallot, garlic, and capers for this easy treatment that yields a tangy, salty, savory main meal that will fill you up with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Get our Easy Salmon with Lemon and Capers recipe.
2. Almond-Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Anti-oxidant rich blueberries get more punch with the fiber and protein of almonds in this healthier version of the classic blueberry muffin. Leave off the streusel if you're cutting down on sugar, and toss in a spoonful of wheat germ if you have it. Get our Almond-Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins recipe.
3. Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup
Three superfoods — kale, beans, and garlic — packed into one brothy bowl provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein to make you, as well as your tastebuds, feel good. Get our Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup recipe.
4. Spiced Pumpkin-Oatmeal Cookies
You could do a lot worse when making cookies. Rolled oats, pumpkin, ginger, and cinnamon not only taste good and are full of filling fiber, they're nutrient-rich. Leave off the powdered-sugar glaze if you're cutting down on sugar. Get our Spiced Pumpkin-Oatmeal Cookies recipe.
5. Broccoli Slaw
This slaw not only has the superfood broccoli, it has purple and green cabbage, Greek yogurt, cranberries, and walnuts. The result is creamy, crunchy, tangy, and nutty. Get our Broccoli Slaw recipe.
Amy Sowder is the assistant editor at Chowhound in New York City. She loves cheesy things, especially toasties and puns. She's trying to like mushrooms. Her running habit is the excuse for her gelato passion. Or is it the other way around? Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog, What Do I Eat Now. Learn more at AmySowder.com.