Regardless of your goal, nutrition contributes to 80% of your fitness progress. Make sure you’re getting the best nutrition by incorporating these top ten superfoods into your diet! Find out all the nutritional and health benefits in this article!
There’s a reason Popeye loved to stock up on spinach – spinach is one of the top superfoods that you should be eating regardless of your training goals. You’ve heard the saying eat your greens right? Well this concept definitely applies when it comes to spinach! Spinach and it’s green superfood goodness is jam-packed full of essential micronutrients including vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, potassium and even protein!
In just one cup of spinach, you can get over double the daily recommendation of vitamin K which plays an important role impacting our veins, arteries and cardiovascular health! Spinach also contains high amounts of folate which has been shown in studies to improve short-term memory and lower the risk of heart disease and cancer by reducing oxidative damage to DNA.
Looking to increase your potassium? Put down that banana because one cup of leafy green spinach can actually provide more potassium than a single banana! What’s more, spinach is a great source of vegetarian iron- non-heme iron. Unlike heme iron from meat, the absorption of non-heme iron can be affected by other dietary components (e.g. increased with vitamin C/ascorbic acid), however, increasing iron in the diet is important for an efficient transport of oxygen in the blood.
All fats are bad right? WRONG!
Especially not in this superfood. Avocados are one of the best superfoods bursting with nutrient goodness! For starters, they do include fat, however, unlike the fat, you find in candy and cheeseburgers this fat is monounsaturated fat MUFA- oleic acid to be precise. These fats are known as good fats that can help suppress your appetite and actually help you burn fat!
Large amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E, vitamin B and fiber also gives this creamy soft superfood additional benefits such as reducing levels of harmful cholesterol (LDL), reducing inflammation and helping to prevent oxidative damage to DNA, as well as preventing cardiovascular disease and keeping your skin and hair healthy. So stock up on this superfood and get making some homemade guacamole.
Does it surprise you that oats are the next superfood on the list? It shouldn’t – oats provide a sustained release of complex carbohydrates and are a great source of water-soluble fiber! In fact, half a cup of oats can offer 4.6g of resistant starch which can help boost your fat burning potential! The beta-glucan fiber found in oats forms a gel-like complex during digestion which cannot only aid digestion and bowel movements but has also been found in many studies to help lower LDL cholesterol, maintain blood sugar levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease! So try a bowl of porridge in the morning… even better protein porridge!
Again with the fats, huh? Like avocado, salmon is another great source of healthy monounsaturated fats. Did you know it is actually recommended for optimum health that we consume fatty fish every week? Salmon is a high protein superfood that is full of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming more omega-3 from salmon is not only beneficial for your joints, skin and hair but has also been shown to increase weight loss and suppress hunger. What’s more, consuming these healthy fats can lower the risk of heart disease and may even help with depression and memory loss!
Beans, beans the musical fruit? Forget musical, try magical! For starters as a superfood, beans are jam-packed full of vegetarian protein which unlike red meat, comes without the saturated fat – so much so that one cup can offer you a whole 15g of this filling macronutrient. Combined with protein, beans are also full of the second most filling nutrient, fiber or resistant starch, which can aid digestion and weight loss. Consuming beans can also raise levels of the hormone leptin which is the hormone released to control hunger, keeping you fuller for longer.
In addition to helping with weight loss and digestion, beans contain a variety of micronutrients and minerals including vitamin B, calcium potassium and magnesium which can help aid metabolism, reduce tiredness and fatigue and lower blood pressure, keep your heart happy and healthy. Grab canned beans- they’re low cost and can be added to a variety of meals! Be sure to eat beans that have no added salt.
When it comes to eating your greens broccoli is probably the most important. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that has an awesome reputation when it comes to health – hence the name “superfood”. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain chemicals called glucosinolates, which have been shown in a range of studies to lower the risk of cancer through preventing the production of harmful free radicals and their consequential oxidative damage to DNA. What’s more, a serving or broccoli is bursting full of vitamin C and actually contains more fiber than spinach! This property alone means broccoli is great for weight loss and should definitely be added to your diet.
Ever wondered why the term antioxidant seems to always be related to blueberries? This tiny superfood might be small in size but it’s big in benefits! Blueberries contain chemicals called phytoflavonoids and anthocyanins and it’s these chemicals that give blueberries their amazing deep blue color. Antioxidant-packed blueberries can fight against oxygen free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation, which is a common driver of chronic diseases. A portion of blueberries is low in calories and can provide you with a range of essential vitamins and a healthy serving of fiber, helping to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Grapefruit has become popular among many weight loss diets for its metabolism-boosting properties. Consuming this tangy citrus superfood can help lower your insulin levels and help prevent the storage of fat, which when consumed before a meal cannot only fill you up but also aid weight loss. What’s more, a high vitamin C content can help support the immune system whilst reducing tiredness and fatigue.
Nuts are another superfood rich in healthy monounsaturated fats that can keep you fuller for longer and help you slim down. Nuts are the perfect snack for carb-heavy snackers that contain chemicals to help regulate the thyroid hormone and increase your metabolism. Nuts are energy dense, however, studies have shown that swapping lower calorie high carb snacks for nuts can actually increase weight loss.
10. Dark Chocolate
If you love chocolate – good news! Dark chocolate is rich in those healthy monounsaturated fats. Not only this, but dark chocolate makes it on top the top ten superfoods because it is rich content of flavonoids and antioxidants have been shown to lower blood sugar and blood pressure, whilst increasing blood flow and improving overall heart health. What’s more dark chocolate may also boost your mood and curb your appetite! However, don’t just go and stock up on a load of Hershey’s kisses – when choosing a dark chocolate make sure it contains over 70% cocoa.
Take Home Message
Now that you’ve read all the benefits of these superfoods… what are you waiting for? Fill your cupboards and pack your meals full of nutritional goodness!