By Ali Wetherbee
All of these foods are packed with nutrition and beneficial for overall health, but each one offers some specific health advantages as well. Here are our top ten superfoods to keep you healthier this Spring:
1. Best for inflammation: Blueberries
Chronic inflammation is linked to many serious diseases, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and arthritis. Blueberries’ anti-inflammatory properties reduce the risk of these diseases. Blueberries have a high antioxidant content. They are also full of flavonoids and rich in potassium and vitamin C. They reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and neutralize free radicals, further enhancing their disease-fighting effects.
How to eat more: Add fresh or frozen blueberries to cereals, yogurt, smoothies, or muffins.
2. Best for brain health: Wild caught salmon
Salmon is rich in omega-3s, which are essential fatty acids crucial for brain function. Omega-3s aid in brain cell production, replacing lost brain cells and improving neural communication. A study in the Archives of Neurology showed that cognitive decline was 10% slower in those who ate fish once a week. One of the omega-3s, DHA, has been proven to improve cognitive development and sharpen memory. Low DHA levels are linked to depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders, as well as generally bad mood, memory loss, and poor concentration. Salmon has the highest DHA levels of any fish.
How to eat more: Enjoy your salmon grilled or baked and served over veggies, or try smoked salmon in your salad. If you aren’t crazy about salmon, you can get similar benefits by taking Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil capsules daily.
3. Best for stress: Cordyceps
Cordyceps, which are a type of mushroom, are adaptogens. Adaptogens help the body to better cope with stress, anxiety, fatigue, and trauma. They can improve mood, normalize sleep, and balance hormones. Cordyceps increase the availability of nutrient and oxygen during periods of extreme stress by increasing blood flow. They can combat fatigue and support the adrenals. A study in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found cordyceps reduced fatigue, improved immune function, and lowered stress levels.
How to eat more: Cordyceps are most easily ingested in pill form. Perfect Cordyceps is 100% organic and contains no fillers.
4. Best for eye health: Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene (provitamin A) which is converted to retinol (vitamin A) by the body. Vitamin A protects the cornea. It can slow the loss of peripheral vision associated with retinitis pigmentosa and decrease the risk of macular degeneration. A lack of vitamin A can lead to night blindness, vision loss, dry eyes, cloudy vision, and corneal ulcers.
How to eat more: Sweet potatoes are great on their own either baked, mashed, or steamed. Add some to soups, enchiladas, burritos, or frittatas. Sliced into sticks and roasted, they are a satisfying alternative to french fries.
5. Best for preventing aging: Acai
Acai made Dr. Oz’s Anti-Aging Checklist of foods to prevent the damage caused by oxidative stress and free radical damage, including wrinkles, sun spots, and sagging skin, as well as chronic degenerative diseases. This berry is packed with antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids to help combat aging. The Brazilians call the Amazon palm tree bearing acai berries the “tree of life” because of its anti-aging benefits.
How to eat more: Try fairly traded, certified organic Perfect Acai Berry Powder in your water, juice, or smoothie. Perfect Acai is also available in capsules.
6. Best for weight loss: Kale
Kale packs a lot of nutrition in for very few calories, making it an ideal food for those trying to lose weight. A lack of nutrients can send your body into starvation mode, which slows your metabolism and causes you to hold on to extra fat for survival. Additionally, the fiber in kale keeps you full longer, and the glucosinolates help detox every cell in your body. It can also help you shed water weight by decreasing bloating and water retention.
How to eat more: Kale in its raw form contains antinutrients (find out more here) so it’s best to minimize your consumption of raw kale. Enjoy it cooked or fermented – or try our Perfect Fermented Kale powder.
7. Best for Cancer Prevention: Turmeric
There have been many studies on turmeric and cancer recently. These studies have found that curcumin, the active component in turmeric, can decrease the size or number of tumors in people with cancer and reduce the risk of developing cancers too. It can kill cancer cells in the laboratory and in animals, and is now beginning to be better studied in humans. Curcumin is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, preventing and repairing cell damage, reducing pain, and protecting against numerous diseases.
How to eat more: It’s hard to get enough turmeric in a typical Western diet. You can add the spice to soups, sauces, and curries, but because it tends to stay in the intestines rather than pass into the blood, large amounts of turmeric are needed to get even small amounts circulating in the bloodstream. To make sure you are getting enough to reap the benefits, take one Mercola Curcumin Advanced capsule daily.
8. Best for Athletes: Spirulina
Spirulina is an algae that contains all eight essential amino acids. It is 65% concentrated protein, contains as much iron as red meat, and is rich in chlorophyll, salts, phytonutrients, enzymes, calcium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, K, and E. It can improve strength and endurance and aid in workout recovery. A study inMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise discovered that men who took spirulina could exercise longer and burned nearly 11% more fat than those taking the placebo.
How to eat more: Perfect Spirulina is available in both capsule and powdered forms, and is 100% organic and Fair Trade Certified.
9. Best for heart health: Dark chocolate
Researchers found that dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain even higher flavonol and polyphenol levels than berries. These antioxidants are thought to reverse the damage of oxidative stress on cells and protect the heart. Chocolate improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels. It is also high in magnesium, which helps your body handle stress and is important in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. One study found that eating chocolate five or more times a week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%!
How to eat more: Most of us won’t need help with this one! Just make sure to focus on dark chocolate and non-alkalized cocoa, since milk chocolate and alkalized cocoa contain few or no antioxidants.
10. Best for regulating blood sugar: Almonds
Nuts are high in protein and help regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes, prediabetes, or hypoglycemia. Almonds in particular have a low glycemic index (GI) and can even reduce the GI load of your whole meal.
How to eat more: Carry a container of almonds to snack on throughout the day. Use almond meal or almond flour in breads, pancakes, muffins, and other baked goods. Add chopped or slivered almonds to your yogurt, ice cream, or stir-fry.