You’ve probably heard the buzz-word “superfood” being tossed around, but do you know what it means? Here, we’ll explain what superfoods are and why are the good for your health.
We also asked Emily Gelsomin, clinical nutrition specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, for her take on the foods, and why they are beneficial to your health.f Next
What is a superfood?
Gelsomin says, “A ‘superfood’ is a food that offers a number of health benefits to the person eating it. You’ll often see that they are touted for decreasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and even aging. Essentially, most plants—particularly fruits and vegetables—are superfoods because they are high in phytochemicals or plant chemicals that provide protective benefits, but other foods are often included, like salmon.” Next
Why should you care?
Gelsomin said that not only do superfoods help prevent diseases and fight aging, but consuming them regularly will help people have more energy and feel better overall. “Superfoods are high in nutrients that optimize all of the body’s systems, immune system, digestive tract, etc., helping the body function at its maximum capacity.” Next
Superfood to try: Salmon
“One of the best natural sources of omega 3 fats, thought to be helpful in keeping your heart healthy. Omega 3s are also often low in the American diet and it’s thought that low levels might contribute to inflammation in the body, which is a marker for many chronic diseases. Salmon is an excellent source of vitamin D, which many New Englanders are deficient in, particularly during winter months. And if you can eat canned salmon with the bones, it’s also a good source of calcium. I’ll often recommend that patients mix a can of salmon in when they are making tuna salad to boost the nutritional quality of their meal, “ Gelsomin says. Next
“Black beans, fava beans, chickpeas, you name it ... they are all great,” Gelsomin says. “A ½ cup of beans is only about 100 calories; a ½ cup serving also provides 25% of your daily fiber needs and contains as much protein as a slice of cheese. They are great protein alternative for those looking to decrease their intake of meat. They are also a good source of soluble fiber, which grabs cholesterol and carries it out of the body, ultimately helping to lower cholesterol levels. They also act as food for the healthy bacteria naturally found in our intestines, which help keep our digestive system happy. Since disease-causing bacteria can enter through damaged intestinal lining, beans can help keep you well.” Next
Perfect for midafternoon snack or after a workout. It’s naturally balanced, containing a little carb, which will provide your brain with fuel, while also providing a little protein. Gelsomin says. “It’s also a good source of calcium. In addition, it contains probiotic cultures, which are thought to keep your immune system healthy. I recommend that people buy plain yogurt and then add in fruit to sweeten it up. Berries coming into season in New England and would be perfect for this.” Next
A whole grain with more protein than many other grains. In fact, Gelsomin says, it is one of the only plant-based sources of protein that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. It is a good source of potassium, which promotes healthy blood pressure. It is also high in manganese, necessary for your body to protect its cells; it may also fight aging, by combating damage caused by the environment. Next
“This is a superfood near and dear to my heart,” Gelsomin says. “They actually beat out berries for their antioxidant content, which is crucial in helping to fight diseases and combat aging, keeping you looking and feeling young.” They do have their geriatric reputation for a reason, she says, they are also rich in fiber and contain natural sugar alcohols which help those that suffer from constipation. They are also a portable sweet snack and pair wonderfully with dark chocolate. “I’ll sometimes recommend that people mix some into brownie batter.” Next
“Nuts in general are nutritional powerhouses because they contain fiber, protein, healthy fats, and a plethora of nutrients, such vitamin E, which protects cells from free radical damage from things like the sun and cigarette smoke,” Gelsomin says. A 1 ounce serving (about 25 nuts) provides 40 percent of your daily value of vitamin E, she says. They are also a nondairy source of calcium. In addition, eating an ounce per day, as part of the DASH diet, can help reduce blood pressure. Next
Brussels sprouts are “a cruciferous vegetable that offers up a unique set of cancer-fighting properties and helps our body’s natural detox system to function properly,” Gelsomin says. “They are a good source of over 12 different nutrients, including folate, vitamin K and vitamin C.” Back to the beginning
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