What makes a “superfood” so super, anyway? Well, sometimes it has more to do with the super-powered marketing team behind the product than the food itself. (Seriously, have you ever tried to enjoy powdered seaweed?) So, starting right now, let’s take back the word “superfood” and redefine it as a food that’s super good for you and also tastes super delicious. Here is our list of top 10 superfoods to work into your diet today.
Top 10 Superfoods
Sick of brown rice? Yeah, so are we. That’s why you should try this supergrain, which has a satisfying chewy texture and is a touch nuttier-tasting than brown rice. Even better, at 7 grams per ½ cup (cooked), freekeh contains twice the protein of quinoa. The same amount also has 8 grams of fiber (a medium Red Delicious apple has 5).”Freekeh has three times the fiber of brown rice,” says Valerie Goldstein, a New York-based dietitian. Serve cooked freekeh as a simple side to steak, pork chops or salmon. It’s also great mixed into meatballs and meatloaf.
Maybe your grandfather was on to something. These little fish contain a boatload of omega-3 fatty acids, a good kind of fat that research shows may help your heart. Canned sardines have 500 to 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s per 3-ounce serving, according to Seafood Health Facts (1). Salmon, by comparison, has 1,500 milligrams of omega-3s. But here’s the catch: Salmon is tricky to cook correctly; canned sardines are already cooked. To make them taste great, try a few stirred into your next batch of pasta with red sauce.
You may have seen this yellow-orange powder in the spice aisle. It comes from a root that looks similar to fresh ginger, though it tastes more like an Indian curry. Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may help fight inflammation, according to a 2017 review of studies published in the academic journal Foods (2). Never tried the spice? When you fry up your next round of over-easy eggs, put a shake or two of ground turmeric into the butter. Then slide the golden eggs onto toast and enjoy.
Chocolate is great for your heart, your brain and your happiness (everyone already knows that last part). But there’s a catch: It’s dark chocolate that produces the cardiovascular and neuro-protective benefits, according to a 2017 study review by Italian researchers (3). That’s because milk chocolate strips out the beneficial compounds within cocoa beans called flavanols. Cacao nibs are the dried seed of the cocoa bean. Yes, they are bitter like dark chocolate, but they taste excellent on a peanut butter and banana sandwich, stirred into oatmeal or mixed into homemade granola.
These shelled creatures contain a sea’s worth of vitamins and nutrients. There’s zinc, which helps support immune health. There’s iron, which helps your cells do their many jobs. And there’s vitamin B12, which aids your metabolism. “Oysters are pretty much pure protein on a calorie budget. Six medium oysters have around 45 calories and 5 grams of protein,” says Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto. If you’re squeamish about raw oysters, consider starting first with canned, smoked oysters. Their flavor is meaty and they taste satisfying atop crackers with a little lemon juice, sea salt and fresh chopped chives.
These teardrop-shaped seeds may look small, but they’re mighty. Eat 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds and you’ll consume 6 grams of stomach-filling fiber—about as much as one medium pear. They’re also a good source of lignans, compounds that may help protect against cancer, diabetes and kidney disorders, according to a 2015 review of studies by scientists in the Middle East (4). Plus, “Flaxseeds are a good source of plant-based omega-3s, which can help prevent heart disease, among other benefits,” says Langer. Ground flaxseeds are easier to digest than whole, she says. Sprinkle them over yogurt, into smoothies or even atop a salad for a nutty taste.
We’re not just talking about those white button mushrooms you’ll find in salad bar buffets and atop pizza. We’re talking about the varieties you’ll now see at most good supermarkets: shiitake, oyster, cremini, enoki, chanterelle, porcini and more. Shrooms are the only vegetables that contain vitamin D, a nutrient you usually derive from the sun. But many people lack the vitamin D—and that’s detrimental because D can help defend against cancer, hypertension and diabetes. “Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so saute mushrooms in coconut or olive oil to help increase absorption,” Goldstein says.
Don’t want cancer haunting you? Eat more of these. Pumpkin seeds contain gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that may fight cancer better than other nuts and seeds, according to the USDA (5). “Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, which helps us relax and can also assist with sleep. They’re a source of zinc, and contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats,” Langer says. They’re crunchy and satisfying as a snack, but they also add a pop of nuttiness to soups and stews. And to think that you toss them in the trash every Halloween…
These big, beautiful, two-toned root vegetables contain glucosinolate, a compound also found in broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables like these may help reduce your risk of several cancers, including bladder, breast and prostate cancers, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University (6). Save the turnip greens too! They’re delicious sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper as a simple side dish.
First off, no, partaking in hemp will not produce, ahem, similar effects to partaking in marijuana. Though they come from the same plant, hemp seeds do not contain the “high” producing THC. These seeds do contain protein (about 9 grams per 3 tablespoons) and magnesium, which helps regulates blood pressure. “Hemp hearts are also rich in GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), which may help lower inflammation and promote satiety,” Goldstein says. Try hemp hearts in your baking. They’re good in muffins, banana bread and cookies.