5 Superfoods To Put On Your Grocery List -1 from Ecuador

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Brenna LaBine–You probably hear it all over the television and see it on grocery store labels—“Superfoods” are all the rage.

 

SuperfoodsWith so much market hype, it may seem difficult to distinguish what is really a superfood and what is not.

What constitutes a superfood?

Superfoods are nutrient-packed foods. They offer us the most nutrients per serving—these nutrients are essential in the way our body and mind function and help to improve longevity and vitality.

Heidi Fagley teaches that healthy eating is a lifestyle. She says of superfoods: “They are powerful sources of clean protein, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, good fats, essential fatty and amino acids, and other nutrients that offer deep levels of nutrition.”

Importantly, she goes on to explain what you should look for in a superfood:

Nutrient density— The measurement of how much of any particular nutrient the food contains in regards to how much is in one serving.

Nutrient diversity— The measurement of how many different nutrients are available in this one food.

Phytonutrient content— The amount of healthy chemical compounds, known and unknown, that exist in plants. There are potentially thousands of phytonutrients in plants and any superfood should be a known source.

Toxin absence— The goal of consuming superfoods is to load the body with as many nutrients as possible. Superfoods should represent clean, hormone-free, chemical and pesticide-free sources of nutrition.

Here are five notable superfoods to incorporate into your diet to aid you in a healthy lifestyle:

1. Tumeric: According to Dr. Oz and other medical professionals around the world, turmeric is among the top superfoods in the world, offering expansive health benefits when consumed. Tumeric is widely used as an anti-acid, an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and antiseptic.

According to Dr. Oz: “Researchers attribute part of this [health benefit] to curcumin, a compound that gives turmeric its deep, golden color, and studies suggest curcumin may protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s, and also improve circulation, prevent blood clotting, and tame a variety of pains.”

2. Avocados: This tasty, colorful fruit has been long-revered for its high nutritional value. If you are too busy to sit down and have a healthy snack or meal, an avocado is the perfect filler—giving you loads of vitamins to boost energy and keep you going. Lisa Rainer is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Provider of Real Living Nutrition Services. She explains, “This tasty fruit ranks as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Its rich flavor makes it a good substitute for meat. For example, instead of putting meat in a sandwich or wrap you can add a few slices of avocado. It is loaded with nutrients including potassium, iron, vitamins A, C, E, B-complex, fiber, and heart healthy fats called monounsaturated fats.”

Additional studies suggest that avocadoes may also help in the prevention of memory loss. And despite criticism that avocados have high-fat content, they contain good-fats that are necessary for healthy body and brain functions. These fats are especially good for you when they are substitutes for meat fats.

3. Açaí Berries: Originating from the amazon, these berries have been used by Amazonians for centuries for the energy-boost they provide. Açaí is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids; all crucial for vigor of the mind and body.

Opera Winfery’s very own Dr. Perricone raves about the importance of the acai berry. He explains:

Açaí pulp contains:

    • A remarkable concentration of antioxidants that help combat premature aging, with 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins of red wine.
    • A synergy of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fiber and phytosterols to help promote cardiovascular and digestive health.
    • An almost perfect essential amino acid complex in conjunction with valuable trace minerals, vital to proper muscle contraction and regeneration.
    • The fatty acid content in açaí resembles that of olive oil, and is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. Oleic acid is important for a number of reasons. It helps omega-3 fish oils penetrate the cell membrane; together they help make cell membranes more supple. By keeping the cell membrane supple, all hormones, neurotransmitter and insulin receptors function more efficiently. This is particularly important because high insulin levels create an inflammatory state, and we know, inflammation causes aging.

 

4. Spirulina: Not long ago the National Health Organization named Spirulina the most nutritious food in the world. This was after a small village in Africa, with close to no food, was shown to have healthy inhabitants. How was this possible? They were undergoing famine. It was because they had a nearby supply of blue-green miracle algae called spirulina. One of the best supplements you can add to your diet comes from one of the world’s oldest living organisms.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).

There are too many potential health benefits of spirulina to list, but here are some suggested by the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Antibiotic-related Illnesses— Although antibiotics destroy unwanted organisms in the body, they may also kill “good” bacteria called probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. This can cause diarrhea. In test tubes, spirulina has boosted the growth of L. acidophilus and other probiotics. More research is needed to determine whether spirulina will have the same effect in people.

Infection Test tube studies suggest that spirulina has activity against herpes, influenza, and HIV. But researchers don’t know whether it would also work in people.

Oral Cancer— In one placebo-controlled study, taking spirulina seemed to reduce a precancerous lesion known as leukoplasia in people who chewed tobacco. Lesions were more likely to go away in the spirulina group than in the placebo group. More research in this area is needed.

Liver Disorders—Preliminary evidence suggests that spirulina may help protect against liver damage and cirrhosis (liver failure) in people with chronic hepatitis. Without more research, however, it is impossible to say whether spirulina offers any real benefit.

Remember to only buy spirulina from a trusted source to ensure its non-toxic quality.

5. Quinoa—Grown largely in the high altitudes of Ecuador, this superfood has only recently made the list. Quinoa has been used by Ecuadorians for centuries for its vital protein-dense make-up. The popularity of Quinoa has not only aided thousands in leading a healthier life, but it has also lifted many farmers out of poverty with the growing demand for this nutritious food.

Quinoa is now widely available in many supermarkets and is one of the best whole grains you can eat, according to Elisa Zied, MS, RD, author of Feed Your Family Right! Zied explains, “It is an ancient grain, easy to make, interesting, high in protein (8 grams in 1 cup cooked), fiber (5 grams per cup) and a naturally good source of iron,” she says. “Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) also has plenty of zinc, vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.”

There are many superfoods out there you can try in order to add variety to your daily diet. But these are good base options you can include in breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

 

Sources:

Avocado—The Super Food For You and Your Little Ones: By Lisa Rainer RD LN. Oct. 3, 2013: http://www.reallivingnutrition.com/articlesarchive/Avocado.aspx.

Dr. Oz’s 10 Favorite Superfoods: Oct. 3, 2013: http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/dr-ozs-10-favorite-superfoods.

Dr. Perricone’s No. 1 Superfood: By Dr. Perricone. Oct. 3, 2013: http://www.oprah.com/health/Acai-Dr-Perricones-No-1-Superfood#ixzz2ggGBCqQZ.

Spirulina: By University of Maryland Medical Center. Oct. 3, 2013: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/spirulina.

Ten Everyday Superfoods: WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature: By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD. Oct. 3, 2013: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-everyday-super-foods.

What Makes A Food A Superfood?: By Heidi Fagley. Oct. 3, 2013: http://www.naturalnews.com/.

 

This article originally appeared in Live and Invest Overseas and has been reprinted by permission.

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