Super foods are those that have a higher than usual amount of disease fighting nutrients known to promote good health. They are considered to be “powerhouse” foods that are often low in calories. A nutrient dense food is one that has a high nutrient to calorie ratio meaning they are rich in nutrients when compared to their calorie content. Super foods are considered to be extremely nutrient dense and tend to have high amounts of one or more of the following substances: omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals (substances found the have potential disease preventing properties), vitamins and minerals. Many super foods are very accessible and are found in regular supermarkets.
Salmon is a very lean protein that is packed with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish like salmon per week to get the full health benefits. It’s best to serve it grilled or broiled to avoid adding extra fat and calories, however, canned salmon is also a good choice.
Wild blueberries contain very high amounts of antioxidants which help protect the cells in our body from the damaging toxins. Scientists at Cornell University developed a method for testing the antioxidant activity in foods and determined that wild blueberries scored the highest. They contain one of the most powerful forms of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Wild blueberries also contain only 80 calories per cup. It’s best to find fresh blueberries, however, when they are not in season, frozen ones are a good substitute.
Walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain protein and fiber. Walnuts contain quinonejuglone, a phytonutrient (compounds found in plants that are non-essential for normal functioning of the body, but still have a beneficial effect on health) found in very few commonly eaten foods. Since there are significant amounts of nutrients in the outer membrane, it’s best to eat raw, unprocessed walnuts. They are best stored in the refrigerator to preserve their quality.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help protect against various forms of cancer. They also contain polyphenols which has blood thinning properties similar to aspirin. When tomatoes are cooked, the activity of the lycopene is even greater. Tomato sauces are available year around which makes it much easier to consume them on a regular basis.
Other Super foods
Many of the most common foods we eat are considered to be super foods. Other examples of super foods found in the supermarket are: broccoli, dark greens, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tea, yogurt, cherries and strawberries. When shopping for super foods in your local supermarket, consider the colors of the foods, especially fresh produce. Different colors indicate different nutrients which helps us to create a nutritious variety in our diets.