If you bring your lunch to work, it’s time for a brown-bag reboot starring the much buzzed about “superfoods.” The word superfood bubbled to the surface in recent years, and serves as an umbrella term for edibles that pack a high-nutrition, healthful punch.
Among the attributes associated with superfoods are:
- strengthen the immune system;
- contain antioxidants that fight potentially damaging free radicals;
- high in fiber and low in calories;
- can boost metabolism;
- rich in vitamins and minerals.
Top 10 Superfoods
Although there are enough superfoods to easily fill an entire shopping cart, if you’d like to start slowly, here’s 10 superfoods to consider:
- Blueberries – Consuming a half-cup of blueberries daily will do your body good. That’s because these unassuming, small spheres are packed with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium, vitamin C, and soluble fiber that – together – may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
- Broccoli – Best eaten steamed rather than boiled, broccoli comes equipped with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, fiber, and calcium – a combination that may help ward off cancer and chronic diseases.
- Tomatoes – While we tend to use tomatoes in their raw-tossed-in-a-salad form, this red fruit reaches its ultimate superfood status when cooked. Cooking tomatoes releases the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene – a dynamic duo that can work to neutralize potentially harmful free radicals.
- Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate holds the distinction of not only being a superfood, but also a sweet treat that can be consumed – in moderation – guilt free. Home to potentially blood-pressure lowering antioxidants and polyphenols, dark chocolate is said to contain a greater concentration of antioxidants and flavonols than fruit. Research indicates that dark chocolate additionally may reduce inflammation and LDL “bad cholesterol.”
- Avocados – While avocados often are filed in the “fattening” category, these green wonders actually should be filed under the “healthy fat” category. In fact, avocados are chock-full of nutrients such as oleic acid, lutein, folate, potassium, vitamin E, cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats, and glutathione – all of which may contribute to protecting against heart disease, cancer, as well as degenerative eye and brain diseases.
- Walnuts – Like avocados, walnuts (along with other nuts) often get a bad rap for being fattening. Granted, walnuts should not be inhaled by the bucketful, but – eating just a small handful serves up a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, melatonin, copper, manganese, and the gamma-tocopherol form of Vitamin E that brings with it potential heart-protective capabilities.
- Salmon – A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids – which have been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and improving brain function – salmon also delivers vitamin D, selenium, B2, B3, B6, and B12. To experience the most significant superfood impact, experts recommend reaching for wild salmon.
- Sweet potatoes – As yummy as white potatoes are, sweet potatoes supersede them in the world of superfoods. That’s because sweet potatoes score high in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Although traditional French fries are admittedly tempting, baked sweet-potato fries are not only tasty, but also an immeasurably better choice health-wise.
- Kiwi fruit – This fuzzy, little fruit is a serious superfood containing free-radical fighting vitamins C and E, as well as folate, potassium, fiber, carotenoids, polyphenols, chlorophyll, glutathione, and pectin. Consuming kiwis can contribute to lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
- Kale – Of late, kale seems to have soared to superfood-rock-star status. This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber, calcium, and the health-promoting antioxidant beta-carotene. If you often bring a salad to work for lunch, mix in kale with your other favorite greens and give yourself superfood kudos.
While not every superfood is going to be a work-lunch fit, many will. And those superfoods that don’t make their way into your brown bag could instead make their way onto your dinner table.