If eating well is our best medicine, then adding superfoods to the diet is a promising path to well-being. Research has increased our awareness of certain highly beneficial foods, which have sustained cultures around the world.
Fish has often been touted as “brain food,” but wild-caught salmon raises this concept to new levels. This oily, cold water fish is one of the richest sources of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which support joints and skin. A carotenoid called astaxanthin, that gives salmon its pink color, provides the additional advantage of boosting immune function; possibly preventing cancer and protecting eye health.
Vegetarians can receive similar benefits from “super seeds,” which contain significant amounts of omega-3s, with the extra bonus of fiber and other components. Flax, hemp and chia seeds contain easily-digestible plant proteins along with nutrients that may help fight cancer and lower blood sugar.
On the sweeter side, fruits such as blueberries have much to offer due to the presence of flavonoids that help protect blood vessels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Similar properties may be found in goji berries. The hardy goji plant survives in harsh climates, and eastern cultures have long considered the berries a tonic to increase strength and longevity. Goji berries have an even more impressive nutritional profile that includes vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids and disease preventing plant nutrients.
To the delight of those adverse to health foods, chocolate has rapidly been gaining status as a superfood in its raw, unprocessed state, known to nutritionists as cacao. Once used by the Mayans and Aztecs as currency, cacao is has very high antioxidant levels. Cacao’s active ingredients are reputed to elevate mood, lower blood pressure, and sharpen mental function.
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Murray, Michael; Eating Strawberries and Blueberries Cut Heart Attack Risk in Women; doctormurray.com; accessed February 20, 2013
Saunders, Terri; Superfoods for Super Health I & II; Pleidian Times; accessed February 20, 2013
Weil, Andrew; Is Astaxanthin a Better Antioxidant?; Drweil.com; accessed February 20, 2013