The Top 7 Plant Superfoods You Should Be Adding to Your Diet Today
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, superfoods are all foods that contain high amounts of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, anti-oxidants and other vital compounds.
The ‘superfoods’ category mostly refers to plants, seeds, nuts, beans, grains and algae. Salmon is an exception to this rule and is among the rare animal-based superfoods. Some dairy products like grass-fed butter, ghee, kefir and raw milk also belong to this category.
The reason why these foods have the ‘super’ title is because they truly have remarkable health benefits.
You can easily find most of these items in the nearest health food store ready to use in your favorite meals.
Keep reading to learn about the top 5 superfoods you should be adding to your diet and their incredible effects on your health.
Quinoa is a plant native to South America’s mountain regions of Chile, Bolivia and Peru. The ancient Inca civilization considered it “the mother of all grains” and made it a staple in their diet. Though technically a seed, quinoa is nowadays among the top superfoods on the planet.
This is due to the high amounts of dietary fiber and an array of vitamins and minerals. But the title ‘superfood’ for quinoa is because it’s a complete protein source, which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It’s also gluten-free and an excellent replacement for flours and starches.
This superfood is extremely rich in antioxidants (link to antioxidant article) with an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value of 3,200 μmol TE per 100 grams of uncooked quinoa.
Turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful superfoods with incredible anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. The main active component in turmeric is curcumin and it’s what gives this plant its superfood status. LINK TO TURMERIC ARTICLE
With an ORAC value of 127,068 µmol TE per 100 gr, turmeric can help fight a variety of diseases ranging from arthritis and diabetes to liver diseases and even cancer. It’s a healthy, natural way to regulate blood sugar, aid digestion and reduce cholesterol levels.
It’s easy to incorporate turmeric into your diet, either fresh or powdered. It’s usually through curry, but you can get it pure and use it in golden milk when you have the flu.
The human body doesn’t absorb turmeric and its nutrients on its own, so make sure you always consume it with a pinch of black pepper. This is because piperine, the main component of black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin up to 2000%.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are tiny nutrient powerhouses originating from Central and South America. The Mayans and Aztecs used them as a source of stamina and energy. The word chia actually means strength in Mayan.
Besides in their diet, they also used chia in sacrificing ceremonies and for medicinal purposes.
Today, we use chia seeds to fortify and thicken our smoothies and breakfast bowls, but the seeds have earned their superfood status for a reason.
Black chia seeds are very rich in antioxidants, so much so that their ORAC value is 9,800 μmol TE per 100 grams of seeds. White chia seeds have a much lower ORAC value, though are not much nutritionally different from the black kind.
They also contain numerous vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. But their greatest nutritive value comes from the high amounts of protein and dietary fiber.
4. Goji Berries
These little red berries are among the top five superfoods due to their strong anti-oxidant properties and an ORAC value of 3,290 μmol TE per 100g. This is what gives them their anti-aging powers and the ability to provide energy to the body and brain.
They’re the perfect addition to your breakfast bowl or eaten as a snack because they’re rich in protein content. The outstanding amount of vitamins and minerals will boost your immune system and protect you from viral and bacterial infections.
Goji berries can regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks and positively affect your general well-being.
Spirulina has gained popularity in the world of superfoods because it’s not actually food, but is consumed as such.
Spirulina is actually a type of green algae that grows in freshwater rivers, ponds and lakes. It’s rich in chlorophyll that gives it a vibrant green color but this important phytonutrient is truly beneficial for humans. It helps detoxify the body and protect the skin from damage and infections.
The amount of protein in spirulina is significantly higher than in legumes, poultry, meat, and fish.
The algae are consumed as a dietary supplement as a powder or pills and contains remarkable amounts of different nutrients such as:
- Essential amino acids.
- Antioxidants (ORAC value of 24,400 µmol TE per 100 gr).
- B vitamins, especially B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9.
- Vitamins A, E, C and D.
- Minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, sodium, copper, magnesium, selenium).
Spirulina has the power to strengthen your immunity, fight against inflammations, infections, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even help you lose weight.
Its components are also great for your mental health and cognitive functions. Consuming spirulina regularly can lead to increased focus and higher energy levels.
Supercharge Your Diet With These Top 5 Superfoods
Eating a healthy, balanced and nutrient-rich diet is the key to longevity and optimal well-being.
Implementing these superfoods into your diet will help you boost your immune system and feel the positive effects on your body and mind.
Though superfoods are generally very good for you, always consult your physician before implementing them into your diet.
Pregnant women and children need to take special precaution measures when consuming these foods in any form, be it natural or as supplements. Talk to your doctor if you have allergies, food sensitivities or health conditions.
Find more health and wellness articles visit our healthy living blog ‘The Daily Strive’ or sign up for our newsletter. We’ll send you only the finest coffee updates and topics that matter to you.
Frosina A. Ivanovic is a content marketing specialist and writer. She’s passionate about quality coffee, travel, wellness, and digital marketing. You can connect with Frosina on LinkedIn or her website, Zhillmatic.