Health & Fitness

Superfoods: Powered Up Nutrition!

There is an ever-growing awareness about the importance of a healthy, balanced diet in the maintenance of weight and fitness, as well as general health. In recent years, we have been encouraged to rely more heavily on food as a natural source of healing and wellness. The term “superfoods” is popular and widely used to categorize foods that are rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and other chemicals and essential fats that help the body fight disease. To help keep you energetic and looking great inside and out, we will explore the top 10 “superfoods,”many of which are already in your refrigerator and kitchen cabinet.
 
Beans
Don’t shun the humble bean.You would be amazed to know how much nutrition it packs! Doubling as a vegetable and protein in the food pyramid, beans carry the benefits of meat and a combination of other foods to provide you with a well rounded, nourishing meal. A single serving of beans contains around a quarter of the protein and half of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) offiberfor adults, as well as calcium, iron, potassiumand B vitamins. The options are endless when it comes to beans, as they areflavorful and essential to the cuisine of a variety of cultures from the Mediterranean to South America. Not only do beans pack a powerful punch of flavor, they will also help you maintain your weight by helping you feel full for longer periods of time.
 
Broccoli
This is one vegetable that stands out from the pack ofsuperfoods. A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is jam packed with antioxidants and nutrients. It fights cancer and maintains heart health while supplying the body with an incredible amount of vitamins. One serving of broccoli delivers over 50% of the RDA ofvitamin C and potassium and more vitamin A than a glass of milk! In addition to the antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, which cause damage to your cells, broccoli also contains phytonutrients that help your body eliminate toxic compounds, which results in improved health and vitality.
 
Oats
Want healthy skin, nails and hair? How about more energy, less stress and lower cholesterol? Including oats in your diet will help you reap all of those benefits and more!Oats are a fantastic choice for breakfast, especially when enjoyed with milk, honey and nuts or a glass of fresh orange juice.  That bowl of porridge will keep you going till your next meal. With a low glycemic index, oats release sugar in the blood, which in turn helps to curb hunger. Oats contain a healthy helping of essential fats and are rich in minerals, including zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron andvitamin B. 
 
Salmon
Whether you love your salmon grilled, steamed, smoked or raw, this is one superfood you will want to indulge in as often as you can. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential type of fat that decreases the risk of heart disease,promotes joint health and aids in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Containing 360IU of vitamin D in a 100g serving,salmon isa great source of this essential vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more and more common and can contribute to a host of health problems from bone disease to the body’s inability to fight off cancer. Salmon also contains vitamins A and B as well as minerals like iron, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.
 
Tomatoes 
Delicious, refreshingtomatoes are a nutrient powerhouse. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins C, A and K, as well as potassium and fiber. From their arsenal of super nutrients, tomatoes provide your body with beta-carotene and lycopene – powerfulantioxidants that keep diseasesand various types of cancer at bay. Cooking tomatoes evaporates their water and makes them more concentrated, which actually ups their lycopene content, so feel free to indulge in that delicious homemade tomato sauce in your pasta, pizza and other dishes. 
 
Spinach
Looking for a protein-packed vegetable? This is it! In fact spinach is the highest vegetable protein around. This is especially great for vegetarians because it is also a great source of   magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin C and manganese. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you’ll want to make it a weekly meal, as it will provide your body with folic acid, as well as vitamin A. Spinach is also a great source of fiber and contains carotenoids and flavonoids. It’s an all around super source of nutrition!
 
Yogurt 
Delicious and nutritious, whether accompanying a meal, taken as a drinkor mixed with herbs or fruit, yogurt is a good source of calcium, protein and a variety of vitamins. Yogurt is a superfood because it is chock-full of cultures like lactobacillus acidophilus, which are believed to improve digestion, boost the immune system and keep your body healthy. 
 
Green Tea
The benefits of tea are absolutely legendary. It’s hard not to like tea. It is delicious, refreshing, relaxing and pleasurable to enjoy in the morning or evening.  Tea has no calories, is easily available and can help you on your quest to maintain optimum health. Green tea in particular contains powerful antioxidants called “catechins” that offer your system a great amount of protection from harmful free radicals.Theyinhibit the growth of cancer and provide external protection against DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light. Green tea is also known to contain bioflavonoids, which protect your body against infection.
 
Walnuts
This is the ultimate superfood. Walnuts contain the highest level of antioxidants of all nuts; they contain a large amount of vitamin E, omega-3, cholesterol lowering serums, as well as alpha-linolenic acid, which is essential to heart health because of its ability to reduce the risk of sudden death due to abnormal heart rhythms. Consuming walnuts increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, a powerful mood booster, thus combating depression.  Make this superfood a snack no less than five times a week.
 
Turkey
Often reserved for a once-a-year feast, turkey is very nutritious and shouldn’t be ignored. High in selenium, a chemical that has been shown to prevent the development of cancer, turkey has been shown to strengthen the immune system. It also aids in the metabolism of the thyroid hormone.Its content of pure lean protein helps build muscle and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Turkey is also rich in minerals; it is a great source of vitamins B-3 and B-6, and it is naturally low in sodium. 
 
Keeping in mind the important link between a healthy, balanced diet and good health, we encourage you to start incorporating these superfoods into your diet.  Maintaining a body that is healthy on the inside is just as important as maintaining a stylish physique.  Invest in yourself by paying attention to what you eat and drink; a fountain of youth may be found in your food.
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