Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, RDN
Experts say it’s best to eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety rather than focusing on a particular food. However, adding superfoods to a healthy eating plan can provide additional nutritional support.
This article lists the top superfoods, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into your diet.
List of Vegetable Superfoods
Darky, Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens contain vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. They also contain phytochemicals (special plant compounds), such as antioxidants, carotenoids, and flavonoids, that offer health benefits. Dark leafy greens have especially high levels of carotenoids, which may protect against certain cancers.
Examples of dark, leafy greens include:
Beets are a highly nutritious food that contains vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They are especially rich in folate, which affects heart health and cell growth. Research suggests that beetroot juice could lower blood pressure and enhance athletic performance.
Broccoli is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. The antioxidants in broccoli may reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, improve blood sugar control, and promote heart health. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts contain high amounts of sulforaphane, which has anti-cancer properties.
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that contain lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Some research suggests sweet potatoes have antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antidiabetic, antiaging, and antimicrobial properties.
Brussels sprouts are nutrient-packed, boasting high amounts of fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin K is known to help with blood-clotting and bone health.
Artichokes contain various nutrients, including protein, fiber, prebiotics, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and phytochemicals. Some studies suggest that artichoke leaf extract may lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (considered “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), as well as improve liver function in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
List of Fruit Superfoods
Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They also contain high amounts of the flavonoid anthocyanin, which studies show may lower the risk of heart attack in women and protect against other diseases.
Some common berries include:
Avocados are fruits that contain many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats. The monounsaturated fats in avocados have been known to reduce inflammation in the body. Research suggests eating avocados may lessen the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Pomegranate seeds contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and many antioxidants. Studies show this fruit may help lower blood pressure and lessen inflammation in people with the autoimmune disorder rheumatoid arthritis.
Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C and fiber. Some research suggests that people who eat these fruits are less likely to develop the eye condition macular degeneration.
Some common citrus fruits are:
The skin of red grapes contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that research suggests may protect the heart, improve cognition, and regulate blood sugar. Grapes also contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory that may lessen the risk of heart issues and protect against cancer.
Bananas are loaded with fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Some studies show that vitamin B6 in the fruit may help prevent cognitive decline and reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) mood swings. The high amount of fiber might also improve digestion.
Additional superfoods with many health benefits, which includes fish, garlic, beans, pumpkin, and more.
The fish with the highest amounts of omega-3s are:
Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, selenium, and fiber. Some research shows garlic may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, lessen the risk of cancer, and support a healthy immune system.
Green tea is rich in an antioxidant called EGCG. Studies show that EGCG may protect against chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils contain many nutrients, including protein, fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and zinc. Some evidence shows consuming these foods may boost heart health and reduce blood sugar levels.
Some examples of beans and lentils include:
Yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein. It also contains probiotics, which promote gut health and protect the body from harmful bacteria.
Cinnamon is a spice that’s rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show cinnamon may lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol. Certain compounds in cinnamon also seem to have neuroprotective effects on the brain.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Research has found they may protect against heart disease. Other studies have shown that, despite their high-fat content, consuming nuts and seeds may help with weight loss.
Some popular nuts and seeds include:
Seeds: Sunflower, chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin
Olive oil contains vitamin E, polyphenols, and monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help lessen heart disease risk.
Eggs are packed with choline, a nutrient involved in memory, mood, and muscle control. They also contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which may help protect vision and promote eye health.
Whole grains are a good source of fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Studies suggest they may lower cholesterol and protect against heart problems.
Healthy whole grains include:
Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which may help prevent heart disease, boost the immune system, and ward off certain types of cancer. It’s important to know that dark chocolate contains more flavonoids than other types, and some chocolates may have added sugar.
Research also found that those who drank between 1.5 cups and 3.5 cups of coffee a day had a reduced risk of death compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. However, some people sensitive to caffeine may be unable to consume coffee.
Many fresh foods, including superfoods, must be transported long distances, which can have a negative impact on the environment.
Benefits of Superfoods
Each superfood offers distinct nutritional benefits, but in general, they are known to:
Reduce inflammation in the body
Boost heart health
Promote a strong immune system
Lessen the risk of cancer
Ways to Eat Superfoods in One Serving
You may be able to maximize your consumption of superfoods by combining them. Some ways to incorporate different superfoods into one meal include preparing:
Superfoods are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Foods like leafy greens, berries, beans, whole grains, pumpkin, and more can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and lower cancer risk. While there’s no single “miracle” food, incorporating superfoods into your diet is one way to ensure that you are consuming important nutrients.
Read the original article on Verywell Health.