Food For Thought

A closeup of an abundance of fresh vegetables and greens on a dining wooden table

Super Foods Galore

Eric Baron, 08/01/2014

Say hello to better health by adding these super foods to your diet

What is a super food?

There are a lot of definitions of “super food” out there, some more valid than others, and many that are clearly trying to sell a product, supplement, or fad diet. Of course, super foods have nothing to do with any of that.

For the most part, all you need to do is walk around the outer aisles and sections of the grocery store—avoiding all the packaged, processed junk toward the center—and stick with the produce. Leafy kale and romaine lettuce, a handful of mushrooms, eye-watering onions, and berries—strawberries and blueberries and blackberries.

Those are super foods.

A key component of what makes up a super food is a high amount of nutrients, specifically micronutrients. Micronutrients differ from macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, fats—in function and form. They are not calorie dense, but are essential to a healthy immune system, preventing illness, DNA repair, and detoxifying your body’s cells.

Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (phyto means “plant” in Greek) are micronutrients, frequently found in plants. Leafy greens, or cruciferous vegetables (think curly kale, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, cabbage), are a great source of micronutrients.

Are certain foods more “super” than others?

Yes they are! There are definitely certain foods you should emphasize if you’re aiming to eat a diet rich in super foods. Greens are just about number one. But any colorful vegetable—carrots, squash, tomatoes—has its own unique reserve of healthy compounds waiting to be cooked up or eaten raw, then released into your body.

Mushrooms and onions, too, as well as legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and some root vegetables contain micronutrients which support a healthy metabolism and better immune health.

What about grains and starch, are they super foods?

Sorry, not quite. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy some grain in your diet. More complex, unrefined grains—like quinoa, steel-cut oats, amaranth and black rice—provide the most nutritional value. Just make sure your grain doesn’t crowd out the green on your plate!



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