I've got news for you: All foods are not created equal. We used to think that "a calorie is a calorie" and all foods basically impacted our bodies the same way. We now know that's not true. In fact, there are some foods that are truly super -- they pack the biggest nutritional bang even in small portions and help fight diseases.
There are a bunch of superfoods you should know about, and I'm going to make it easy for you. I've picked those superfoods that are easy to find, inexpensive, and easy to take on-the-go -- make eating them a simple addition to any meal or snack.
Fruit is always a good bet when we're looking for something healthy to eat. Blueberries are my favorite. They are a great source of vitamin C and are packed with antioxidants, which support our body's cells staying healthy. A handful is an easy snack, and they are delicious in smoothies.
If we listened to our mothers growing up, we know to eat our vegetables. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, and E. Especially beneficial to men, tomatoes contain lycopene, which help lower the risk of prostate cancer. [1-4] Add to a salad or pasta sauce, and you won't notice the extra step. But be warned, salsa has a lot of processed fats and salt, so buy your tomatoes fresh!
Broccoli is one of the best sources of vitamin K, which supports our blood clotting when we get cuts and scrapes. It's delicious raw, steamed, or sautéed in a meal.
Beans are an amazing superfood, densely packed with protein, iron, and fiber, and such an easy side dish or addition to a meal. Remember, though, refried beans don't count.
Many nuts have great nutritional value and are such an easy snack. Walnuts are full of monounsaturated fats, which keep our arteries clear and even boost our memory as we get older. [5-8] Nuts are very high in calories, though, so as easy as it is to eat the whole bag, remember that a portion is about a handful, and save some for the next day.
Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart disease, and you won't find a better source than fish. Lite tuna a couple times a week will provide the necessary omega-3 fatty acids to keep your heart healthy.
Plain Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium for strong bones and teeth. It's low in sugar, and high in protein, which will keep you fuller longer. Mix in your favorite fruit for a delicious snack. Remember, frozen yogurt isn't the same thing.
Superfoods are extra healthy, but that doesn't mean they take extra time to prepare. One of the easiest ways to prepare a superfood-packed meal is a simple salad. Add some sliced tomatoes, broccoli, beats, and tuna to a baby spinach salad. Add chickpeas and walnuts for that extra superfood boost! Or recharge after work or before the gym, not with an expensive protein shake, but with a superfood shake. Blend a cup of Greek yogurt, some skim or soy milk, a couple handfuls of blueberries, a little banana for extra potassium, and a few ice cubes, and you have a delicious super smoothie that is even more healthy than that store-bought shake.
With these simple tips, and proper advice from your doctor, you've got the ultimate recipe for super charging your diet and your health.
To learn more about these foods as well as some additional tips, watch this Superfoods video.
For more by John Whyte, M.D., MPH, click here.
For more on diet and nutrition, click here.