What is a Superfood? A superfood is chock-full of nutrients, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and rate very high on the ORAC scale. The ORAC Scale or (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) is a labratory test that measures the antioxidant capacity of foods. Antioxidants prevent free-radical damage to our tissues thereby causing aging, disease and illness.
Free-Radicals are highly reactive, unstable molecules that are produced during a range of biochemical reactions. You can think of free-radical harm much like nuclear destruction of the human body. Free-Radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and aging to neurodegenerative diseases. Antioxidants, however, are chemical scavengers that bind to these harmful oxidants and neutralize them. Antioxidants are an extremely important component in protecting us from this damage.
Superfoods, because they are so nutrient dense, are much like insurance. Superfoods are whole foods that have not been refined or processed. By incorporating these whole foods into your diet, you are ensuring optimum health. Here are the Top Ten Superfoods for your optimum health:
1. Wild Salmon – Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E. Salmon is an anti-inflammatory that promotes optimal health. Inflammation is responsible for many chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Aim for 2-3 servings per week.
2. Nuts – All nuts are highly beneficial for excellent health, in particular, walnuts. Walnuts are very high in omega-3 fats. A handful of nuts a day is going to provide you with the protection you need.
3. Berries – All berries contain plant nutrients called phytochemicals and flavonoids that may help prevent cancer. The most potent berries (according to the ORAC Scale) are Acai berries, Goji berries and Blueberries. There is much well-documented research on the health benefits of these berries.
4. Green Tea – Great tea contains high concentrations of catechin polyphenols particularily EGCG which is a powerful antioxidant. Not only is it beneficial in weight loss, it has also shown to be protective against heart disease and cancer.
5. Beans – Beans such as Black Beans are high in phytochemicals and cholesterol-lowering fiber. The high fiber content is also helpful for weight loss.
6. Maitake and Shitake Mushrooms – These mushrooms contain a polysaccharide called Beta 1,3 Glucan and Beta 1,6 Glucan which boosts the immune system by stimulating white blood cells. They may prevent normal cells from turning into cancer cells. The Japanese government has approved Maitake as a cancer fighting treatment.
7. Umeboshi Plum – The powerful acidity of this pickled plum has a very healthful alkalizing effect on the body. It neutralizes fatigue, stimulates healthy digestion, and promotes the elimination of toxins. One Umeboshi plum a day is considered an excellent preventive.
8. Sea Vegetables – The lignans and phytochemicals in sea vegetables have been found to inhibit cancer cell growth. The sea vegetable also promotes healthy thyroid function, prevents cardiovascular disease, has an anti-inflammatory action and are high in Iodine, vitamin K, Magnesium and B vitamins.
9. Yogurt – The beneficial bacteria in yogurt or yogurt products such as Kefir promote digestive health. It has also been shown that this same bacteria can strengthen the immune system. Yogurt also increases gamma interferon a protein that helps the white blood cells fight disease.
10. Garlic – Garlic’s health benefits are numerous. Garlic can help lower cholesterol, help lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and control blood sugar. Garlic is an anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and an antioxidant.
By mindfully choosing healthful foods such as these Superfoods, you are promoting not just Optimum Health in your life but creating a better quality of life as well.
To your good health!
Lori L. Shemek, Phd, CNC, CLC
Lori L. Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC is Founder and President of DLS HealthWorks, LLC. At DLS HealthWorks, our focus is to help create optimum health through support, motivation and guidance for our clients through any health, nutrition and weight loss issues.