“Superfoods” are nutrition multitaskers — foods brimming with various disease-fighting nutrients and delivered in a delicious form (think: blueberries). But the best thing about them? Some of the best superfoods are easy to find and easy to eat, making healthy eating simple. Here are 10 to try.
All berries are great sources of fiber — a nutrient that most Americans are short on. Raspberries boast the most at 8 grams per cup. Blueberries and strawberries also deliver the nutrient (4 grams and 3 grams, respectively), while also providing other nutrients. Blueberries have anthocyanins, antioxidants that may help keep memory sharp as you age. And strawberries deliver skin-firming vitamin C.
A source of high-quality protein, eggs might give your meal more staying power. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin — two antioxidants that help keep eyes healthy. In fact, mounting research links lutein and zeaxanthin with reduced risk for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. And lutein also may help to shield your skin from UV damage.
Beans are a good plant-based source of iron, a mineral that transports oxygen from your lungs to the cells in your body. They also boast fiber: 1/2 cup of cooked navy beans packs a whopping 7 grams of fiber, while the same amount of lentils and kidney beans provide 8 and 6 grams, respectively.
Nuts are rich sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Walnuts have high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been linked to heart health and improved mood.
An excellent source of vitamin C, just one large orange contains a full day’s dose. Vitamin C is critical for producing white blood cells and antibodies that fight off infections; it’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage. Oranges are also high in fiber and folate.
6. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so brilliantly orange thanks to their alpha and beta carotene. The body converts these compounds into the active form of vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes, bones and immune system healthy. One medium sweet potato — or about 1/2 cup — provides nearly four times the recommended daily value of vitamin A.
This green powerhouse packs vitamins C, A, and K (which helps with bone health), as well as folate. There is another reason broccoli frequently earns a top spot on “superfoods” lists: it delivers a healthy dose of sulforaphane, a type of isothiocyanate that is thought to thwart cancer by helping to stimulate the body’s detoxifying enzymes.
Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes and some cancers, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids.
Spinach is teeming with important vitamins and minerals, including folate, a water-soluble B vitamin that is especially important for mothers-to-be. A cup boasts 15% of the recommended daily intake.
Yogurt contains “good bacteria” that help maintain gut health and diminish the incidence of age-related intestinal illness. It’s also rich in calcium, which helps stave off osteoporosis. Just 1 cup of yogurt provides nearly half the recommended daily value of calcium and is rich in phosphorus, potassium, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and protein.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)
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