So-called ‘superfoods’ may not work miracles, magically making you thinner or curing disease on their own, but they can certainly be a powerful source of health-improving vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial substances. Some foods are simply packed with more nutrition than others, so eating more of them can give you more energy, and help you resist disease and the signs of aging. Here are 12 superfoods, and how to incorporate them into your diet.
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The honey you find at the grocery store might be no more than artificially flavored corn syrup, and it’s certainly not good for you. But raw, unprocessed, unpasteurized honey possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antioxidant properties, and may help combat allergies. It can help heal wounds, sooth coughs and ease colds. Adding more raw honey to your diet is easy – use it in tea, on toast or in any other way you’d use regular honey. You can also just eat a spoonful at a time.
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For Westerners, seaweed can be an acquired taste. It’s a pretty strong, salty, fishy flavor, and when it’s not used right, it can totally overpower a dish. But a little bit of the right kind of seaweed can add lots of depth of flavor. It’s one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, packed with vitamins and minerals, and especially one thing that many of us have become a little deficient in: iodine. Add kelp buds to your salads, try kelp noodles, blend some spirulina into your smoothies or make dehydrated nori crackers.
Yogurt and Kefir
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Yogurt and kefir (a yogurt-like drink) are rich in probiotics, beneficial bacterial that help improve digestion and boost the immune system. Look for organic yogurt without added sweeteners or any artificial colors and flavors – mix in a little raw honey, chia seeds and blueberries for a superfood-packed breakfast or snack. You can make your own greek yogurt and kefir for best results.
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Prevention Magazine called quinoa ‘The Superfood of 2013,’ and considering how rich this seed is in protein, amino acids and fiber, it’s not hard to see why. Quinoa contains about eight grains of protein per cup, and it’s one of the few ‘complete’ proteins that are vegetarian. Use it like you would any other grain, like oats and rice. Get 13 easy, healthy recipes at Fitness Magazine.
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This berry found in Central and South America has been called a ‘miracle food,’ and whether or not that’s true, it’s definitely good for you (and delicious.) Acai is rich in antioxidants, amino acids and omega fatty acids, all of which can help fight the signs of aging and give you more energy. You can find acai juice and berries at most health food stores. Try them in this breakfast bowl recipe from Yummy Mummy Kitchen.
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Another fruit that’s packed with antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals is the humble blueberry. There may not be anything exciting or exotic about this supermarket staple, but that doesn’t make it any less of a superfood. If you’re already a blueberry fan, you’ve probably got plenty of ways to use them – in yogurt, smoothies, muffins, tarts and pies. Try it in a savory dish, too with Eating Well’s Chicken and Blueberry Pasta Salad.
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Salmon has one of the highest vitamin D levels of all foods, and it’s also a great source of vitamins A and B, iron, calcium, selenium, phosphorous and omega-fatty acids. Choose wild salmon for the greatest benefits. Check out this tasty recipe from Whole Foods, Roasted Salmon Stuffed with Spinach, Feta and Ricotta.
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How many ways can you eat your greens? Dozens and dozens, especially since there’s such a wide variety of greens that are so nutritious, they fall into the ‘superfoods’ category, including kale, spinach, chard and mustard greens. Get tons of recipes here.
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Hemp is a big misunderstood due to its close relationship to the marijuana plant, but it’s also one of the most nutritionally balanced foods on the planet. It’s eaten in the form of oil, butter, flour, seeds and protein powder, and like quinoa, it’s another complete vegetarian protein, with all 9 essential amino acids. Look for hemp products in your favorite natural foods store. One way to use the seeds is in a raw hemp pesto.
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Not only are chia seeds a great source of protein, omega-fatty acids, calcium, copper, iron and many other vitamins and minerals, they’re also full of fiber, and unlike flax seeds, they don’t have to be ground to enjoy their nutritional benefits. Chia seeds can simply be sprinkled on to all kinds of foods, like cereal, yogurt, salad and baked goods. They can also be used as an egg substitute in baking.
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A hearty, filling grain, barley is full of fiber, protein and antioxidants as well as phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. It can help regulate blood sugar, and it’s incredibly versatile, so you can make it a part of virtually any meal. Check out Organic Gardening’s recipe for barley with spring greens.