It’s important to eat a variety of colourful foods from each food group to maintain good health. That said, certain foods stand out for giving us the biggest nutritional bang for our buck. These so-called “superfoods” are like food super-heroes with high amounts of nutrients that help maintain or improve health while lowering disease risk. You’ve probably already heard that goji berries, chia seeds, blueberries, dark chocolate and avocados are super-healthy, but there are some other very accessible superfoods that you that may not be on your radar.
Believe it or not, many of the “regular” foods you already eat every day (and some other hidden gems at the supermarket) truly fit the “superfood” bill. The best part: they can easily fit into your budget.
You’ve heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and for good reason! Apples (any kind) are rich in filling and cholesterol-lowering fibre, cell-protecting vitamin C, are low in calories and low glycemic index. In a nutshell, eating apples helps with gut health, disease prevention, and weight management.
2. Hemp Hearts
Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3, fibre and containing all nine essential amino acids for growth and development, these tiny seeds are all the rage for good reason! Although you may think of marijuana when you hear the word hemp, these seeds have little in common with the plant. With a soft, chewy texture (kind of like pine nuts or cashews), hemp hearts are great in all kinds of recipes, from pesto to yogurt parfaits!
A staple on many Canadians’ breakfast tables, eating oatmeal is better for you than you think! Thanks to its fibre and protein content, oatmeal super filling and satisfying, helping with weight management. Oatmeal also contains a special kind of starch called beta-glucan, which has cholesterol-lowering and immune-system boosting properties.
Lovingly called “the champagne of milk”, kefir is a cultured, fermented milk product with a slightly sparkling mouthfeel. Kefir is rich in friendly probiotic bacteria, which we now know have a wealth of health benefits like maintaining a happy gut and maybe even improved mental health! As if that wasn’t enough, kefir is also rich as calcium for strong bones and heart health.
You’ve surely heard that sipping on the brewed stuff is great for you. All teas are full of phytonutrients including flavonoids which can protect your cells from damage. Green tea in particular has also been linked with fat loss and weight management. Matcha is a step-up from green tea, where the entire leaf is ground up into a fine powder to amplify the health benefits when consumed. Tea also contains a different type of caffeine (and far less) than coffee, which provides a steady energy boost without the crash
Traditionally used in herbal medicine, turmeric is one of the most popular “must have” spices in your kitchen these days. From “turmeric tea” to spicing up meats, turmeric has numerous uses and health benefits. This ancient spice has been found to be filled with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, reportedly aiding in pain relief, digestion and more. Careful; just like cinnamon, a tiny pinch packs a potent punch!
Salmon and other fatty, cold-water fish are rich in hearty healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids which our bodies need for good health, but can’t make on their own. Eating fatty fish at least twice per week has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, depression and inflammatory conditions, plus it improves brain, eye and nerve health. Salmon also packs a major protein punch, which keeps your muscles, bones and immune system strong. In addition, salmon is rich in vitamin D which has been associated with lower risks of diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Rich in vitamins and minerals, eating more beans, peas and legumes has been associated with improved weight management and lower risks of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and others. This is thanks to their high mineral and fibre content as well as a generous amount of satisfying plant protein. Lovingly called the “musical fruit” for their high fibre content, you may want to increase your intake of beans, peas and other legumes gradually to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.