Superfoods are foods that have a high-density of nutritional content and contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to help boost your immune system and keep your body strong. Antioxidants work by protecting your cells against free radicals, which can lead to cancer, heart disease, as well as other diseases. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, phytonutrients may enhance immune response, cause cancer cells to die, detoxify carcinogens, and repair DNA damage caused by exposure to toxic substances.
Superfoods are natural products, so in-season superfoods that will have optimum flavor, texture, and nutritional content. Learn which superfoods are best to enjoy in the autumn and winter.
This autumn staple gets its orange color from carotenoids – cancer fighting agents. Choose pumpkins with the deepest orange color to get the best hit of carotenoids. The potassium in pumpkins helps to lower high blood pressure caused by excess sodium intake, while the fiber content helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Pumpkins are also high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body, and vitamin C, an essential nutrient that helps to maintain healthy body tissue and immune response. Don’t throw away the seeds either: pumpkin seeds contain omega-3, a fatty acid that supports brain development, and Vitamin E, which protects against heart disease.
Try adding pumpkin to baked goods and soup. Bake some pumpkin seeds for a quick snack, or toss them atop a salad for added flavor and crunch.
Sweet potatoes are packed full of antioxidants, and actually contain 150% more of these disease-protecting agents than blueberries. Like pumpkins, they are an excellent source of beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin A, which is important in eye health and has body healing properties, and vitamin B6, which helps form neurotransmitters and red blood cells. The iron in sweet potatoes also helps to form red blood cells. Remember to leave the skin on your sweet potatoes, as this is where most of the nutrients are.
Enjoy baked or mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful nutrient that protects against certain types of cancer. These fruits are also an excellent source of vitamin A and E. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin K, which is best known for its blood-clotting properties. Research has shown that cooked and processed tomatoes are actually better for you, as these processes help to release lycopene.
Try tomatoes in a salad with fresh mozzarella or experiment with using ketchup as a condiment.
This bright red fruit is packed with antioxidants, and actually has seven times more antioxidants than green tea. This fruit is an excellent choice for heart health and has been shown to protect against heart disease. Pomegranates also contain vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
Try pomegranate juice, or eat the seeds by themselves or sprinkled on a salad.
Bring out the cranberries before Thanksgiving this year, because these berries are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients. They have a high content of both fiber and water, which aids digestive health, helps to control blood sugar, and keeps you full longer. Cranberries are also an excellent source of vitamin c and have been shown to prevent and treat urinary tract infections.
Add cranberries to baked goods, yogurt, and cereal. Dried cranberries are great for snacking, or adding to a salad.
An apple a day may really help keep the doctor away. A single apple contains a quarter of the daily recommended vitamin C intake, as well as plenty of other antioxidants. Apples are also great for their fiber and pectin content, which help to lower cholesterol, aid in digestion, and prevent colon cancer. The good source of fiber in apples can help contribute to weight loss. Leave the skin on for more nutrients.
Sprinkle cinnamon, another superfood which may help lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, on freshly sliced apples.
Beets gain their status as a superfood due to their strong content of betacyanins, which help to prevent cancer. They are also known to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Beets are a great source of folate, which prevents anemia and cancer and contributes to formation of DNA.
Try roasted beets, borsht soup, or a grating of raw beets on a salad. The beet greens can also be eaten and added to a salad.
This green, leafy vegetable is good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate. Spinach is also a good source of vitamin B2, which is necessary for the immune system and helps to protect against free radicals. The zinc in spinach helps with immune responses, while the carotenoids prevent cancer and infections. In addition, spinach contains magnesium which has been discovered to help maintain a normal blood pressure.
Enjoy spinach in a salad or add it to pasta sauces.