Nutrient-rich superfoods are considered to be particularly beneficial to enhance health and wellbeing. Plant-based eats dominate the subjective list of edible powerhouses and, according to the American Heart Association—in addition to essential vitamins and minerals —fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide phytochemicals, compounds found in plants that fight illness and disease.
Superfoods are highly effective but not exactly a quick fix. They should consistently be incorporated into a healthy routine of well-balanced nutrition and exercise. Those who integrate superfoods and healthy nourishment on a regular basis may lower risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.
While superfoods may be beneficial for all, superfood consumption may be especially important for people with disabilities, chronic conditions and certain health ailments. That’s because statistics show that people with disabilities are less likely to be of healthy weight and more likely to be obese than people without disabilities. Plus, heart disease, which is greatly impacted by food choices, is the leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability.
Chew on These Superfoods
If you’ve conquered leafy greens and are ready to expand your superfood menu with interesting additions, check out these lesser-known superfoods:
- Açai berries are richer in antioxidants than commonly eaten berries. This small tart fruit bursts big anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity, and aids against arthritis, weight gain, high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction.
- Adzuki beans can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. This fiber-dense ingredient is known for stimulating the digestive tract and regulating insulin receptors for diabetes prevention. Also try mung beans.
- Almond flour is a gluten-free alternative with vitamin E to support immune function. Compared to other nuts, almonds provide the most calcium and are valuable for both bone and cardiovascular health.
- Aloe juice extracted from the aloe plant can help treat psoriasis and other skin ailments, as well as constipation and diabetes.
- Birch water is a rehydrator full of electrolytes and potassium. It has xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol that fights tooth decay. Sip on maple or bamboo water too.
- Bone broth is loaded with collagen and gelatin, ideal for gut, hair, nail and joint support. Plus, it works as a detox elixir.
- Broccoli sprouts contain up to 100 times higher levels of sulforaphane − a cancer reducing component − than the mature cruciferous vegetable. Bonus: Sprout form is easier to digest!
- Camu powder is a supplement derived from a berry containing 60 times more vitamin C than an orange. It can help maintain the health of gums and eyes, and aid with viral infections, like cold sores and the common cold.
- Ezekiel bread contains high-quality protein (comprised of sprouted grains and legumes), fiber and vitamins B & C. Sprouted grains can lower the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, and help protect against liver disease.
- Farro is a nutty-flavored ancient grain with twice the fiber and protein content of wheat, and more calcium than quinoa. It helps to fuels brain function, energy and metabolism.
- Hemp seeds offer essential fatty acids (omega-3 & omega-6) to promote cardiovascular health and balance PMS and menopause hormones.
- Kefir is a milky drink with more probiotics than yogurt to influence digestion, weight and mental health. Its calcium and vitamin K content lowers the risk of osteoporosis and suppresses allergies and asthma.
- Kimchi is fermented Korean spiced cabbage. Its antioxidants can help slow aging and may treat dermatitis, yeast infections and gastrointestinal issues.
Serve Up a Superfood Menu
Consider a superfood diet centered on three macronutrients − protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates – which are the main components needed for the body. Here is a sample superfood menu:
- Breakfast: Ezekiel bread topped with mashed avocado and chopped hard-boiled egg
- Lunch: Farro with sprouts, collard greens, walnuts and cilantro; drizzled with avocado + EVOO purée
- Dinner: Wild-caught salmon, kimchi, adzuki beans and spinach
- Post-Workout Snack: Icelandic yogurt, birch water, almonds and berries
Superfood Champ or Chump?
Black pudding, Scotland’s hearty breakfast staple, may be an ideal protein, according to bodybuilding authorities, because it contains iron, zinc and vitamins B12 & D to impact calcium absorption, blood cells and the immune system. Conversely, other health experts suggest a leaner morning meal like amaranth, a protein-packed supergrain. So, because everyone is different, it’s always wise to consult your doctor before beginning any kind of health regimen.