We all know things like kale, spinach, blueberries, quinoa and sweet potatoes are good for us, but there are many other nutritious foods that don’t get the spotlight attention they deserve. Here, we give you 10 superfoods to shake up your health game, and some ideas on how to use them:
Yup, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot your way to health. Beans, which are so nutritious they fit into both the vegetable group and protein group are tiny powerhouses of goodness.
A bean is like a little bundle the plant makes to supply nutrients for a whole plant to grow from. When you eat ‘em, you get all those nutrients, as well as fiber, healthy fats, quality carbohydrates, an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (the awesome things that give plants colors and also help protect you from disease).
2. Sunflower seeds
These little beauties are so often overlooked in the nut/seed isle, but they deserve more attention. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E and one of the best sources of phytosterols, which keeps your heart and arteries healthy.
They’re also full of B vitamins, fiber, and a great source of polyunsaturated fats (aka PUFAs), which are the magical fats that can actually help lower blood cholesterol if used to replace other kinds of fats, like saturated or trans.
Seaweed is low in calories but full of essential omega-3 fatty acids, is low in calories but full of essential omega-3 fatty acids, many important B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins E, K and A, calcium, iron, iodine, selenium, and potassium. It’s also a source of quality protein and fiber and has been thought to have antitumor effects. Feel better about your sushi habit now? You’re welcome.
Garlic lovers rejoice. Garlic boasts a quality supply of manganese, vitamin b6, selenium, and vitamin C. It’s also been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases, have anti-tumor and antimicrobial effects.
Lentils are a good source of copper, calcium, potassium, some B vitamins, and vitamin K, and are full of fiber, protein, iron and folate, making them a healthy vegetarian-friendly way to get key nutrients. Filling and delicious, they make delicious soups and are great in salads.
6. Sesame seeds
You’ve seen them sprinkled on your sushi or soups, but did you ever know these little guys are actually quite nutritious? Sesame seeds are rich in copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, as well as fiber and protein. They’re also a good source of PUFAs (the good fats) which can improve blood nutrient profiles and reduce risks of heart disease when used to replace other fats.
Toss on salads, soups, or in dishes like Peanut Sesame Noodles or Soy Glazed Sesame Green Beans. Tahini, a delicious culinary superstar, is like the nut butter version of sesame seeds, and is awesome on toast or in hummus.
Now, we’re not saying you should go grab a venti triple shot mocha frap, but a cup or two of regular Joe has its benefits. Coffee is an excellent source of polyphenols and antioxidants, and has been shown to be protective against type 2 diabetes and other diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other forms of cognitive decline.
On dat workout grind? It’s also been shown to improve athletic performance. Just drink in moderation, and avoid over-the-top flavored sugary versions on the regular.
8. Cocoa powder
The heart and soul of chocolate, cocoa powder is surprisingly nutritious. Cocoa powder is a potent source of flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Just a quarter of a cup of cocoa powder has an impressive 7 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and an impressive 17% of the daily required supply of iron.
For a healthy treat, try this Healthy Vegan Chocolate Pudding, Healthy Vegan Double Fudge Avocado Chocolate Cookies, or mix 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder with 1 cup almond milk and a tablespoon sweetener of your choice and cheers to your health.
Recently becoming increasingly trendy and available, hemp seeds (yes, hemp seeds), are a great source of fiber, protein, and an excellent vegetarian-friendly source of essential fatty acids, including PUFAs omega-3 and omega-6.
Toss them on top of your oatmeal, make a beautiful acai bowl, add to salads, or throw in your smoothie for a nutrient boost. Proceed to make a hemp bracelet. Repeat.
10. Black Rice
A beautiful and nutritious way to shake up your grain game, black rice has more protein and fiber than white or brown rice, and contains more than a hefty dose of iron and tons of antioxidants (which also give it the beautiful purple hue). Use it wherever you’d use white rice, or try making a grain salad.