I keep hearing all this chatter about Super Foods. It seems there’s a trend shifting from the term healthy foods to the term Super Foods. As if to imply these foods have magical powers – like superman. Could these foods actually give you super strength, photographic memory and x-ray vision? Well, salmon and green tea may not grant the gift of flight, but it turns out they do have some pretty spectacular qualities that translate to strength and memory.

These so called Super foods help you lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer and put you in a better mood. According to research, 50% to 70% of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move. Inflammation is a key trigger to all chronic diseases and by eating anti-inflammatory foods you reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease.

Here are a few super foods to try.

Berries

Loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and water, berries keep you full longer and help lower your blood sugar. Blueberries top the list of best berries, according to nutritionists due to their anti-inflammatory properties and their richness in potassium and vitamin C. Fresh, frozen or dried it doesn’t matter, the darker the berry the more antioxidants it contains. Low in calories and satisfying a sweet tooth, berries pack a powerful punch for such a small package.

Tea

Black and Green tea are both full of antioxidants; however, green tea contains ECGC a compound that inhibits the growth of cancer cells. In fact, recent studies have shown that drinking 3 cups of green tea a day can cut your risk of cancer in half and lower your cholesterol. Adding lemon juice to your green tea increases the antioxidant power by 4 times. In addition, replacing sugary sodas with tea will certainly help you lose weight by lowering your caloric intake.

Dark Chocolate

Loaded with antioxidants, a dark chocolate with 60% or higher cocoa content has been shown to lower blood pressure. The darker it is, the lower the fat and sugar content…and we already know that contributes to a smaller waist line.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids lower heart disease risk, improves arthritis, reduces depression and may help memory loss in Alzheimer’s. Prevalent in fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring, Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in other sources like fortified eggs, flax seed and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are also high in monounsaturated fats that have the added benefit of lowering cholesterol.

Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit the more you eat, the more you, well, I think you remember the song. Beans can be substituted for meat or poultry due to their high protein content, but can also be a great side dish or can easily be thrown into soups and salads. Loaded with insoluble and soluble fiber, beans help fill you up, lower cholesterol and rid your body of waste. Not only low in fat, they are also a great source of magnesium, potassium and carbohydrates. You might be singing the song the first week of incorporating them into your diet, but your body soon adjusts to the increase in fiber. Just remember to take some Beano before eating them and you’ll endure just fine.

Eggs

Eggs are a great source of quality protein. Studies have shown eating a good source of protein in the morning will help you eat fewer calories throughout the day. Eggs are great for brain development and memory because they contain choline as well as 12 other vitamins and minerals. Besides, they are so versatile and economical. Scrambled, poached, hard boiled or even sunny side up, they are great in burritos, salads, sandwiches, or by themselves.

Nuts

High in protein, heart-healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants, nuts help lower cholesterol and promote weight loss – that is if you practice portion control. Nuts do have a higher fat content, but it’s the good kind of fat. An ounce of nuts a day help fill you up and can be great as an on the go snack or can add texture and flavor to salads, cereals, and side dishes.

Quinoa

One of the best whole grains you can eat! High in protein (8 grams in 1 cooked cup), fiber (5 grams per cup) and iron, quinoa is also an excellent source of zinc, vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Pronounced keen-wa, it is an ancient grain that is now found in most grocery stores. Similar to rice, it can be eaten alone or mixed with veggies, nuts or a lean protein.

Broccoli

Rich in vitamin A, C, and K, broccoli is filled with fiber that fills you up and helps control your weight. Broccoli also contains compounds that give it anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. It can boost DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Boiling reduces the effectiveness of those compounds; therefore, it is best to steam, microwave, stir fry, grill, roast or eat it raw.

These foods might get you on your way to being more like superman, but it’s important to practice portion control and regular physical activity. Portion size is important, even when it comes to super foods. And who knows, a broccoli a day just might lead to x-ray vision.

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living